Stress & anxiety

Tips, resources, and in-person support for managing stress.

Overview

Stress and anxiety are normal physical responses that help us deal with difficult situations. Normally, the physical reaction goes away after your challenge has passed.

However, if your feelings of stress or anxiety are persistent and affect your everyday life, it may help to try mental health strategies.

When stress and/or anxiety turn into constant and chronic worrying that disturbs your everyday life, it may be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder1

  • Feeling restless, nervous, or irritable
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Muscle tension
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort (e.g., nausea, diarrhea)
  • Frequent sweating

1 Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada

Tips for managing stress & anxiety

It's important to know that you can manage stress and anxiety to improve your mental health.

When you start feeling stressed or anxious:

  • Acknowledge and accept that you're feeling stressed or anxious
  • Take a break and try to relax
  • Talk to a friend or family member
  • Allow yourself to cry
  • Go for a walk or a run
  • Meditate
  • Take deep breaths

Techniques to help you relax:

If you're already feeling stressed or anxious, small and simple adjustments can make a big difference.

  • Calm yourself during exams
    For exam stress or anxiety, remind yourself that the exam period will end soon.

  • Stay active
    Get up for a 5-10 minute stretch or walk every hour.

  • Get outside
    Try to spend some time outdoors for a refresher.

  • Stay hydrated
    Drink 2 or more litres of water per day.

  • Eat well
    Eat healthy meals and snacks to refuel your brain and body.

  • Try a mini-meditation
    Breathe in deeply, count to five, and exhale slowly. Watch your lower abdomen expand and deflate. Repeat five times.

  • Build self-confidence
    Engage in positive self-talk (e.g., telling yourself you're able to do something).

  • Face your fears head on
    Avoiding stressful or social situations can reinforce anxiety - step out of your comfort zone to show yourself that you can manage your fears.

  • Don’t try to be perfect
    Be proud of what you can achieve, your skills, and who you are as a person.

  • Have a good laugh
    Watch, listen, or read something that makes you laugh out loud. 

  • Take a short break to meet a friend
    Invite a friend to eat lunch, grab a drink, or go for a walk together.

  • Get enough quality sleep
    Adults need 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.

Identify the things that trigger your stress or anxiety

  • Keep a log of your stress triggers and review them periodically
  • Identify the times that you tend to get stressed or anxious

    Are you most stressed in the morning? Before class? Studying in the evening?

    Monitor the times you feel the most stressed or anxious, and include them in your stress log.

  • Think of ways to change your responses to stress and anxiety

    Are there unhealthy triggers you can avoid or minimize your exposure to? Can you change how you approach triggers or the way that you manage stress and anxiety?

    For example, if studying for a difficult class alone in your room at night makes you feel stressed, try studying with a friend or in a group at a different location and time of day.

    You may also want to take other steps to reduce stress triggered by the activity, like asking a TA for help or attending office hours.

Manage your time effectively

Managing your time more effectively can help you get things done and reduce stress.

  • Do your most difficult work when you have the most energy
    Think about the time of day you're most productive and have the most energy. Plan to do your most difficult work during this time.
  • Know when to stop
    It's not healthy for students to stay up late to study. Your brain is most efficient when you get enough quality sleep, so schedule enough time for rest.
  • Find small pockets of time to do work
    Maximize your time by studying between classes, on the bus, or during other spare moments. 

Find more tips

Apps & interactive resources

These websites and apps have been carefully chosen by counsellors and other health professionals at UBC. They’re easy and accessible tools to help you manage stress and anxiety right away.

Foundry
Get connected to mental health resources and tools.

MindShift
Learn to relax, cope with anxiety, and develop helpful ways of thinking through this app.

Headspace
Meditate and clear your mind for 10 minutes daily with this app.

AnxietyBC
Find information and self-help toolkits for a variety of anxiety disorders.

MindHealthBC
Take a mental health assessment or try a self-help program.

Peer support

It might be easier to talk with a trained student, who may understand what you're going through and can offer helpful resources.

Wellness Centre
Trained Wellness Peers can help if you need resources for stress, time management, or figuring out life as a student.

Speakeasy
Free, confidential, one-on-one peer support for problems like academic stress, exam anxiety, and more.

Professional help

If you've tried resources and they aren't helping, or if your stress or anxiety are persistent and negatively affecting your everyday life, talk to a health professional about your concerns.

On campus

Counselling Services
Book a one-on-one assessment for mental health concerns and get connected to resources.

Choose the right support
Stress and anxiety can be caused by many different factors. Choose a help topic for support with academics, finances, immigration, and more.

24/7

Empower Me

Empower Me provides counselling and life coaching, free for students on the AMS/GSS Health Plan. Receive support for issues of any kind, including relationships, finances, depression, anxiety, addictions, stress, work conflicts, and more.

Get help online, in person, or by phone.

Call 1-844-741-6389

If you're feeling hopeless or at risk of harm

If you or someone you know is in crisis or feeling hopeless, call or chat online with a crisis responder any time.

VISIT CRISISCENTRE BC