Anxiety and stress are common parts of the university experience. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Stress is a sensation or physiological response that often accompanies anxiety. Our bodies release cortisol as a response when we meet demand, danger, challenge, or other difficult circumstances (this chemical reaction and release we call the stress hormone).

Symptoms of stress and anxiety may include but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Frazzled or overwhelmed
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Aches, pains, and muscle tension
  • Insomnia
  • Avoiding others
  • Irritability



Do we have papers due, outstanding bills, family drama? Was there a car accident or a breakup? All of these circumstances can cause us stress or anxiety.


Sometimes the way we are wired impacts how we manage stress and anxiety. You can learn skills and helpful coping strategies, but sometimes we tend to have anxiety.


At times, our body’s alarm system, brain chemistry, and the interaction between our mind and bodies can be out of sync, contributing to feelings of anxiety even if there aren’t any situational factors to consider.


We can call that trauma when we experience anything shocking, confusing, or overwhelming. Sometimes when we have unprocessed trauma, it can cause anxiety and stress.


  • Breath – Just closing your eyes and taking several, deep breaths can help you relax the tension and reduce stress. You can download apps like Breathe or Calm that help you relax.
  • Listen to Music – Find music that is soothing or affirming to calm down. Or you can use music to dance and move and let off some steam.
  • Excercise – When your body is stressed, it releases stress hormones, but exercising can burn up some of those stress hormones and release endorphins that will improve your mood.
  • Go Outside – The fresh air and sounds of nature can give you a fresh perspective.
  • Get Good Sleep – Our bodies need sleep to replenish. The best sleep happens from 10 pm to 6 am and your body functions best on a consistent schedule.
  • Notice Eating Patterns – Our diet affects our gut health which has a direct effect on our mental health. Watch out for too much sugar and overly processed foods.
  • Seek Help – GCU’s Office of Student Care has counselors who provide short-term, individual, and group counseling where you can gain helpful support in learning to manage stress and anxiety.

If you or another GCU student is struggling, please call the Office of Student Care at 602-639-7007 or email [email protected]. You can also visit the Office of Student Care in person in the Student Life Building (Building 26), 2nd Floor, Monday-Friday from 8 am-5 pm.

If you believe that you or another GCU student faces an immediate, life-threatening emergency, call 911 or Campus Safety at 602-639-8100 (available 24/7).

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