How To: Handle Stress and Daily Anxiety


Every now and again I get unexpected bouts of overwhelming anxiety related to my school work or even to my daily to do list and it takes me a while to calm down. I went to see one of the university counselors this semester to get some help learning how to manage my anxiety and we came up with some really good tips that I thought might help someone else as well:

  1. When you feel super anxious take some time to rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 and then breathe and try to move down a number on that scale. Taking deep breaths and concentrating just on what you are doing as you do it is a really good way to calm your heart beat. I tend to do this whenever I feel overwhelmed or stressed out and it really helps.
  2. Distract yourself - I like to watch cartoons or read a funny book when I feel anxious because it takes my mind of whatever it was that made me anxious in the first place and I can then begin to calm down. Different things may work for different people so finding what works for you is key.
  3. Make a to do list and break it down as far as you can. I do this when I feel particularly overwhelmed with what I need to do that day and breaking everything down into steps makes me feel like I am accomplishing something. Micro lists can be really helpful if you get overwhelmed with large projects or to do lists (Like me!)
  4. Listen to some soothing music. It can be your favorite music, it can be ambience, but listening to music can really help calm you down. I like to listen to ambience when I study and other music when I just want to relax.
  5. Exercise. The health benefits aside, exercise can help keep you tired enough that you sleep well at night (if you have trouble) and can help you take your mind off of what's making you anxious. Plus, it can help you come back to a situation and look at it in a different light.
  6. Do what you can now and come back to your work later. It's okay to take breaks and to go do something else when you need to.
  7. If things are feeling stressful, try to step back from the situation and take a breather. Then when you feel like you can come back to it, try to look at it from a different perspective or look at a different part of the situation.
  8. Do what you need to do to feel better. This can be going shopping, taking a shower or relaxing bath, hanging out with friends, taking a nap, or whatever else you think you need to do to make sure you feel calm and able to do what you need to do.

The list above is just some of the tips I have found and used over the years I've dealt with anxiety, though it has only been in the past few months I have really started working with a therapist about these issues. I hope that the tips above can really help you if you need them!

I am not a licensed psychiatrist, if you feel suicidal please don't hesitate to call: 1 (800) 273-8255 or 911. There is always someone who wants you to be around and if you are considering suicide please please please contact someone who can help. Mental illness is not a joke and there is nothing wrong with seeking help for an issue.