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ZENSTUDIES : Making a healthy transition to higher education

Mental health in college-level education: providing teachers and mental health care professionals with tools to reduce dropout rates following the transition to college 



2.3 Resources and Strategies for Managing Anxiety


2.3.1 Inventory of Strategies for Managing Anxiety

The activities listed below provide a variety of strategies for managing anxiety. See if any of these strategies suit your needs and try the ones that work for you.


Identifying what makes me feel anxious, confronting and defusing anxiety!


1. Identifying the thoughts that cause me anxiety

- What kind of situations make me feel anxious? When? Where? - What triggers my anxiety reactions?

- What emotions do I feel in these situations? At what level of intensity (out of 10)?

- What images or thoughts come to mind in these situations?

- What threat do I perceive in these situations?


2. Recognizing the symptoms of anxiety in myself

- What signs indicate that I am experiencing anxiety (difficulty breathing, dizziness, muscle tension, trembling)?

- What are the consequences of my anxiety reactions? Does it paralyze me? Does it make me avoid certain situations?


3. The strainer principle: questions to help put things into perspective. Challenging the thoughts identified in (1) by confronting them with reality [CL1] )

- Is this situation real?

- How serious is it?

- What are the chances of the worst happening (%)?

- What would be the actual consequences of this situation?

- What are other possible explanations for the situation?

- Is there another way to look at it?

- Is there any evidence to support or contradict my thoughts?


4. Realistic or unrealistic thoughts?

Based on your answers to the previous questions, do you think your thoughts are real? If you don't think they are, try to come up with more realistic thoughts!


Unrealistic thought :


Alternative thought :



Avoid avoidance!


When we experience anxiety, we tend to avoid situations that trigger anxiety because they make us uncomfortable. While we may feel that anxiety decreases for a short time, avoiding these situations only reinforces our fear of facing them! Research shows that exposing ourselves to situations that make us feel anxious allows us to overcome anxiety. So if there are thoughts that make you feel anxious, don't avoid them!



If your anxiety level is high, there are simple and easy relaxation techniques you can use to relax and reduce anxiety.


1) Find a quiet and comfortable place

2) Place one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest.

3) Breathe in slowly through your nose, making sure to let the air pass through your abdomen. As your belly expands, you will feel your hand rising.

4) Breathe out slowly through your mouth. You will feel your hand going down.

5) Relax the muscles of your body 6) Repeat this exercise for at least 5 minutes.



Adopt good work and living habits!


 - Get moving! Physical activity helps to reduce anxiety.

- Adopt a healthy diet and good sleeping habits.

- Establish your priorities to manage your time more efficiently.

- Plan your schedule (refer to the previous activity)

- Organize your time and prepare for your exams

- Avoid procrastination



Ladouceur, R., Bélanger, I. et Léger, É. (2003). Arrêtez de vous faire du souci pour tout et pour rien. Paris, Éditions Odile Jacob.

Servant, D. (2007). La gestion du stress et de l’anxiété (2e Ed.). Elsevier Masson, 241 pages.

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