Calming Anxiety

Take a deep breath and focus on the present moment.

According to recent studies, nearly one in six college students have been diagnosed with/treated for anxiety, and more than 20% report that anxiety affects their academic performance. Right here at UArizona, more than 60% of the students surveyed at CAPS said they came in for help with anxiety.

If tension, worry, or even panic get in your way, know that you’re not alone. Here's how you can calm your anxiety:

First, breathe.

If you've ever tried to think your way out of anxiety, you know that that's not the easiest path. The first thing to do when your heart starts beating faster and your brain is overthinking is calm your body down. Breathing can help you do that. Breathing helps your body feel safe again, and that can give you a bigger, more grounded perspective on a stressful situation. 

Here's a strategy to try:



  • Breathe in through your nose to a mental count of 4.

  • Expand your belly as you breathe.

  • Hold your breath to a count of 7.

  • Exhale slowly to a count of 8.

  • Pause a moment before breathing in again.


Then, do something grounding.

Grounding is a way to connect back with the present moment, which helps you feel calmer, more focused, and more clear on what to do next. There are lots of grounding exercises out there, so experiment and find something you like. 

Like numbers? Count backwards by 2, 3, or 4, whatever’s challenging for you.

Like simple? Name everything you see that’s blue (or any color)

Like distraction? Try eating a sour candy, or holding an ice cube in your hand.

Like a little of everything? Try this:

5-4-3-2-1 Method

  • Name five things you see
  • Four things you feel
  • Three things you hear
  • Two things you smell and
  • One emotion you can feel 

When your body feels calm, walk yourself through the situation.

What questions can you answer?

Write down what you're thinking and look for the questions you can answer. If your worries are not answerable, try rephrasing them.  

What if I fail can become what are the requirements to stay in my major or keep my scholarship or what are my options for retaking this class?

Think what NOW (not what if).

Refocus on what information, resources, and solutions are available to you now.

Look for solutions.

Shift from a problem mindset to a solution mindset. Set a timer for about 10 minutes and brainstorm as many solutions as you can - without editing or analyzing them.

After your 10 minutes are up, choose 1 that sounds good enough and take a baby step in that direction.

Finally, remember to treat yourself well. (You're worth taking care of!)

Start With Sleep

Sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. Getting enough quality sleep can be hard - but the benefits are worth it.

Nourish Your Body

Do what you can to eat well-balanced, nourishing, and satisfying meals and keep a healthy snack handy for your long days. 

Move Your Body

Take breaks during the day to move or stretch. Walking around the building, taking the stairs, jumping in place, or dancing to your favorite song can all help release pent-up anxious energy.

Be Kind To Yourself

If you’re hard on yourself or worried about what others think, give yourself a big dose of kindness by remembering your strengths and encouraging yourself in a tough situation.

Additional Resources