All of us feel nervous or even anxious at some point in our lives, but for the anxious student, they feelthis way most of the time. For some, there are triggers that increase the level of their anxiety, but for others they experience a generally high level of anxiety without apparent reason or cause. Some of the common signs and symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Feeling panicky, fearful, or uneasy
  • Increased heart rate, which can sometimes feel as though they are having a heart attack
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty eating
  • Upset stomach
  • Headaches, back and shoulder pain
  • Cold or clammy hands and feet
  • Tingling sensation in hands or feet
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Dizziness, light headedness
  • Sweating
  • Trembling, shaking
  • Difficulty concentrating, focusing, and remembering things
  • Constant worry
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears

In helping the anxious student, here are some dos and don’ts:


  • Allow the student to discuss their anxious thoughts as this can relieve some pressure
  • Validate their feelings such as “I understand you feel like youare under a lot of pressure to improve your grades in my class”
  • Speak to the student in a slow, calm, quiet voice and often this tone can help the student speak more slowly and calmly
  • Be clear about your limits as you are not a counselor and offer to refer the student to the Counseling Center (see how to refer a student)


  • Tell the student to “calm down” or not to worry as this can convey a lack of understanding
  • Minimize the situation by saying something like “this is not that big a deal”
  • Overwhelm the student with information or ways to resolve the problem