FEELING STRESSED? HOW TO MANAGE ANXIETY. Nisha Shah. Psychotherapist Counselor. Inverness, Palatine, Schaumburg Hoffman Estates

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Feeling Stressed?  How to Manage Anxiety

By Nisha Shah MS, CRC, LCPC

Clinical Care Consultants Inverness Office Psychotherapist

Anxiety and stress have been issues for college students since the inception of higher education. New students, be it recent high school graduates or adults returning to school, are faced with the challenges of a more demanding academic regime and having to often juggle current employment and family life.  Feeling pressured to excel in a competitive environment while trying to balance one’s personal responsibilities can seem over overwhelming.

Everyone has “off” days when they feel like nothing is going right, but most well-adjusted people will bounce back in a short time. The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) reports that 40 million US adults suffer from anxiety disorders and 75% experience their first episode by age 22. So when do those feelings of anxiety become reason for more concern: When your overall mood interferes with your ability to function the majority of time.

Stress can have the ability to be helpful. For example, if we are avoiding an accident, stress alerts us to put our foot on the brake or divert the car to safety. Stress experienced in excess can have a negative effect and affect the ability to manage relationships, function at work or school.

Triggers for stress can be broken into two categories, external and internal. Examples of external triggers include breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend, getting a bad grade or having a difficult paper to write. Internal triggers are core beliefs or expectations we are placing on ourselves. The latter category tends to be more difficult to manage and feels more chronic. The good news is, there are tools that can one can learn and utilize in order to manage stress and anxiety regardless of the type of trigger.

Some warning signs that normal anxiety has shifted into distress:

  1. Experiencing panic attacks
  2. Trouble sleeping
  3. Ruminating thoughts or having difficulties controlling worries
  4. Obsessing about future events
  5. Refusal to spend time with friends or missing classes
  6. Physical symptoms: headaches, stomachaches, nausea, vomiting
  7. Restlessness or feeling on edge
  8. Difficulty concentrating
  9. Irritability
  10. Change in eating habits
  11. Trouble completing assignments on time

What we have found is that it is often times, more important to manage how we react to our stressors rather than try to change the stressor itself.

Helpful ways to decrease and manage feelings of anxiety/stress

  1. Practice good sleeping habits. Sleeping at 5 am and waking up for an 8 am class will increase stress to the body. Insufficient sleep can increase risk for other health problems so getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night is ideal.
  2. 2. Limit caffeine. These sorts of energy boosters might help to pull an “all-nighter” but they also have the ability to make us crash and increase the susceptibility to stress.
  3. Find time to exercise. When feeling overwhelmed or stressed with things to get done, moving around might be the last thing on your mind. As little as 20 minutes a day of some sort of physical activity can reduce stress levels. To be successful though, you have to choose something you enjoy doing otherwise you won’t continue doing it.
  4. Eat well. Eating food from vending machines or fast food can naturally decrease energy levels in the body and cause us to “drag” resulting in a decreased ability to handle stressors. Do your best to have a diet full of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  5. Be realistic. Placing yourself in multiple clubs and overloading on classes will only lead to burnout. Try not to over commit yourself and remember to manage your time well. It’s important to not give up on your passions/interests. Your time might be filled up with classes and study groups but try to find a couple hours each week that you can enjoy a hobby. This will help you stay connected to your inner self.
  6. Relax. Though it is impossible for us to control all the stressors around us, you have the ability to control the way you react to the stress. Relaxation exercises are a great tool to help calm yourself down and boost your mood. Examples of these would be: yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises. Try to schedule some form of a relaxation break every day.
  7. Lastly, and most importantly, know your limit. Reach out for help if you feel that you need additional supports. This can be family, friends or a therapist. If you feel you can’t handle the stress on your own, schedule an appointment to see someone. You don’t have to go through this alone.


By Nisha Shah MS, CRC, LCPC
Clinical Care Consultants
1642 Colonial Parkway
Inverness, IL 60067

Across the street from Harper Community College



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Counselors Who Really Care
3325 Arlington Heights Rd., Ste 400B
Arlington Heights, IL 60004

1642 Colonial Parkway
Inverness, IL 60067
(847) 749-0514


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