What is the definition of anxiety? “I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance.” I found this great quote from Seth Godin and wondered how this translates to students.

Our students are facing more and more pressure and more and more reasons to be stressed and anxious.

definition of anxiety for college students:

  • Midterms
  • Finals
  • Bullying
  • Relationships
  • Tuition fee
  • Self esteem
  • Assignment
  • Depression
  • Grades
  • Student loans
  • Peer Pressure
  • & so much more!

Thousand upon thousands of students have recently graduated from high schools and colleges across the country and many are feeling as if they will never get a good job (already experiencing failure in advance). Both of my kids graduated with honors from excellent schools in their field and we were shocked that neither had a job lined up to go right into. Fortunately they had good support and a mom who literally wrote the book on how to overcome anxiety.

I shared with them some of the techniques in my book and they began practicing them on a daily basis. Rather than experiencing failure in advance, they began to get present and open up to possibilities for the future. They both ended up getting very good jobs and my daughter recently graduated summa cum laude with her Master’s degree!

Many of today’s students are experiencing crisis levels of stress, anxiety and depression.

A recent survey by the American College Health Association showed an astounding 61% of students said they had felt “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year!

Unfortunately colleges and universities are seeing more and more students looking for help with their stress and anxiety and they don’t have enough resources to meet the needs. The key to not just “managing” or “coping” with anxiety is to learn how to prepare for it and practice easy skills and techniques to deal with it on a daily basis. When we wait for a crisis to happen, it is much harder to deal with, and according to Barry Schreier from the University of Iowa “mental health is the No. 1 reason why students take formal leave from the university.” (http://time.com/5190291/anxiety-depression-college-university-students/)

Here are some simple skills and techniques to begin practicing on a daily basis to create a new definition of anxiety:


Many times, my clients will yawn during a session and they are almost always embarrassed. My response is the same each time “no need to apologize, keep yawning!”

When you yawn, whether intentional or not, you stimulate the vagus nerve. It’s the longest nerve in your body, stretching from your brain to your gut, and circling all of your organs. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, it triggers the parasympathetic (or rest and digest) nervous system.

This, in turn, slows the heart rate, relaxes muscles, and stimulates digestion helping to shut down the sympathetic (or “fight or flight”) nervous system. Practice yawning at various points during the day and notice how you feel calmer.


This technique is deceptively simple, yet when you work through it you will feel how effective it is. This will help you to balance both sides of your brain as well as masculine and feminine energy.

Grab a ball or anything within arm’s reach (a water bottle, your keys, etc.). If you have a tennis ball, that is what I usually recommend, it is just the right size and easy to carry with you.

  • Notice your level of stress, anxiety, or distress and rate it from 1 to 10.
  • Begin to pass the ball from one hand to the other, passing it back and forth, back and forth across the midline of the body.
  • Do this for about a minute and then check in with that stress, anxiety, or distress and notice what number it is now.
  • If it’s more than zero or one, toss the ball back and forth for another minute or so.
  • Repeat for as many times as you need to make it dissipate completely, or at least bring it down to a manageable level.

No tennis ball, water bottle, or keys? Don’t stress… You can also do this technique without tossing anything at all. Simply hold your hands out in front of your body and swing one of them out to the side. Bring it back to the front, and then swing the other hand out to the side. Repeat until you feel the anxiety or stress start to subside.

Just like all through school, you needed to practice, practice and practice some more to get good grades, when you practice these simple skills on a daily basis you can begin to have a new definition of anxiety. Another way to think about it is; just like you brush your teeth everyday to prevent cavities, practicing these techniques everyday can help prevent the buildup of overwhelming anxiety.

You can learn more skills with my free download “Five Easy Ways to Calm Anxiety” A great gift for a recent graduate would be my book “Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom.”

Know a recent graduate? Please share this article with them!

Breathing Techniques for Anxiety
meditation vs. medication

Originally published at stephaniedalfonzo.com


  • Stephanie Dalfonzo

    Anxiety Expert Integrative Hypnotist | Author of "Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom"

    I've spent more than 20 years researching holistic, natural and scientifically ways to calm stress, anxiety and fear. I work with individuals and teams to protect their emotional health and build resilience. My two adult children, Crissi and Greg, are making their mark in the world, and live in Connecticut with Michael, my husband of over 30 years and our 2 rescue dogs, Maggie and Claire.