Stress is a normal part of life, and anxiety is a natural response that can help us cope with stress. When anxiety begins to feel overwhelming, however, our worry can increase our stress. Unhealthy anxiety can occur in response to trauma (PTSD), or it can be triggered by uncomfortable situations we would like to avoid, such as with phobias or social anxiety. Many people experience generalized anxiety that is not linked to a specific situation, and others manifest their anxiety with compulsive behaviors (OCD). Regardless of the form the anxiety takes, our nature tells us to avoid anxiety-provoking situations. Unfortunately, this avoidance ultimately feeds our anxiety even if we feel some relief in the moment. Life can become very limited if our only coping skill is avoidance.
Guided meditations and relaxation exercises are often effective methods for reducing anxiety. Consider watching a brief video by one of our staff psychologists, as he talks you through different types of exercises. Please click on the Self-Help link at the top of this page. Health Services’ Office of Health Education and Promotion (OHEP) also provides several guided meditations via audio file downloads and you can find additional very short meditations if you click here. You may also want to learn about biofeedback, as this is another stress-reduction approach offered by Health Services. Additional self-help tools include workbooks such as The Worry Trap and The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. In addition, another strategy that can really help with negative thoughts that feel particularly stuck is called Cognitive Defusion. Click on this link for more information about this strategy.
Clinicians at PACS frequently work with students who are learning to manage their stress and worry. Anxiety is one of the most common reasons for college students to seek counseling. While this can be challenging work, the results can be very rewarding. If you would like to work with a counselor individually, contact PACS to set up an intake appointment.
PACS also offers an Anxiety Management group each semester for students who are dealing with various forms of anxiety. The group facilitators help members learn about their anxiety and find ways to manage how they feel. Approaches include psychoeducation, mindfulness exercises, and exposure therapy. Students have often said they found the group setting helpful because they felt supported by other students who could relate to their experience. The group begins within the first few weeks of the semester and meets weekly until just prior to final exams. If you are interested in joining, contact PACS near the beginning of the semester before the group is full.
Psychological and Counseling Services
306 Smith Hall
phone 603-862-2090/TTY: 7-1-1 or 800-735-2964 (Relay NH)
Health and Wellness
Office of Health Education and Promotion
249 Health Services
phone 603-862-3823/TTY: 7-1-1 or 800-735-2964 (Relay NH)
online appointment http://www.unh.edu/health-services/apointments
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
National Institue of Mental Health