Anxiety is an emotion that we have when we are worried or afraid of something. Everyone experiences it to some degree and, at SDSU, it is one of the most common emotions that students describe feeling.

There are many reasons why anxiety may be particularly common in college students, including

  • The transition to college
  • Social pressures
  • Having very busy schedules’
  • Feeling pressure to perform well in classes
  • Balancing school with others aspects of life (friends, family, etc)
  • Feeling isolated on campus
  • COVID-19
  • The impact of distance learning


  • Muscle tension
  • Stomach issues
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart racing
  • Excessive worry
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling nervous
  • Feel inclined to avoid things that elicit anxiety

(at least 4 of the following symptoms come on abruptly)

  • Sweating
  • Heart racing
  • Shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling like you are choking
  • Chest discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Feeling light headed/dizzy
  • Chills
  • Numbness
  • Feelings of derealization
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dying


One thing that can be very helpful to identify for anxiety is to determine what you have control over versus what you do not. Depending on how you assess a situation can then determine what you do next.

If there is something present that you have control over, you may see if there is a way to address it as well as focus on coping with it. However, if there is something that you have no control over, you may instead opt to focus on managing your emotions surrounding the stressful situation. To learn more, click here.

Identifying what your most effective personal coping skills are can be one of the best strategies for coping with emotional distress. For anxiety, there may be activities that you engage in that help take your mind off of what is worrying you. Some common coping strategies for anxiety are exercise, talking to a supportive friend or family member, or listening to music.

There are more aspects to identifying what coping strategies work for you and to learn more about coping, follow this link.

Journaling in various forms can be a particularly effective way to cope with anxiety. This may include

  • Writing your thoughts down daily and saving them
  • Writing your thoughts and erasing them immediately
  • Recording yourself discussing your thoughts

The most important part is finding a way to get your thoughts out, not necessarily that you find a way to go back and see them again (hence the idea that you can erase or not save the document).

This is also a great opportunity for those that enjoy expressing themselves artistically to use their preferred platform, whether it is music, painting, poetry, or many more, as a means to express what they are feeling.

We have a whole page dedicated to journaling as well, which you may find helpful to explore. 

We are constantly narrating our personal experience and are often not accurate to what exactly is taking place. The tone of our narration, which is based on many factors, can directly influence our emotions.

For example, if we are running late and there is unexpected traffic, we might tell ourselves “Oh no, I am going to be late for my class and I’ll be so disruptive when I log on!”

Simply having that thought can lead to feeling anxious, meaning that it is based on your interpretation of the events as opposed to what specifically occured.  Self talk can play an important role in how we experience our emotions, so please feel free to check out our page dedicated to it.

Using deep, diaphragmatic breathing can help with feeling anxious. In general, when we begin to experience the emotion of anxiety, our body begins to react physiologically. Sometimes this results in our body going into full ‘fight or flight’ mode, where we have many intense physical reactions, many of which are described above in the signs and symptoms section.

Using deep breathing can help us calm down and feel more relaxed. This can be done through the use of apps, biofeedback equipment, or other means.

To learn more, please look at our deep breathing section. If you are interested in learning more about biofeedback specifically, please go to our biofeedback page.


Start with one minute, then aim to do 7 minutes each time.
Review it and see if you notice patterns for things that make you feel anxious. Then categorize them into things you do and do not have control over.
See if you can do at least one of them each day.
If you like it, try it more