Worry and anxiety
Anxiety can be characterised and expressed in various ways. It could be exam anxiety, speech anxiety, social anxiety, or a panic disorder. It might feel awful, but it is not dangerous. You can find information here about common symptoms and what you can do to manage your worry and anxiety.
The difference between worry and anxiety
Worry and anxiety are closely connected. Simply put, worry is the cognitive component in various forms of anxiety disorders, while anxiety is the emotional response which we often experience physically/physiologically. You can read about what this means in more detail below.
What is worry?
Worry consists of future-orientated, repetitive, negative thoughts that often result in possible nightmare scenarios. You can also compare worry to a verbal mental activity or a chain of thoughts that contributes to feelings of being stuck, locked or trapped in your thoughts.
If you have difficulties managing worry, repetitive negative thoughts or anxiety, it may be helpful to attend our Metacognitive Group Therapy (MCGT).
What is anxiety?
Anxiety can be characterised as having the same effect as fear but is based on something that you imagine can happen in the future. Anxiety is often perceived as being a very unpleasant experience, but it is not dangerous. As a student, you may experience anxiety ahead of an exam, during social activities, or if you are worried about an oral presentation – an anxiety that makes it difficult to cope with your studies.
Anxiety can be understood as an internal alarm system, a signal to the body to fight or flee from something that is threatening. In essence, this is a system that is crucial to our survival and it incorporates our thoughts, feelings, body and behaviour. However, the alarm system cannot differentiate between actual threats and that which we perceive to be threatening in our minds. As a result, your body can react to your thoughts as though you are being subjected to an actual threat.
It may be a good idea to pay attention to things that trigger your anxiety to understand them more clearly and to minimise the reaction. There are many things you can do yourself (see tips below), but if feelings of anxiety persist for a long time and/or if they become an obstacle to daily life and studies, the Student Health Centre can offer you support.
Some common symptoms of anxiety
- catastrophic thinking and distressing thoughts
- avoidance behaviours
- fear of losing control
- physical reactions, for example, stomach ache, nausea, heart palpitations, trembling, dizziness and dry mouth
- numbness in arms and legs.
It is important to contact your health centre if you experience physical symptoms which you do not think are associated with anxiety.
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It is also common for young adults to experience anxiety based on their attitude to food. Find out more about how problematic eating habits can affect your well-being:
Test your anxiety levels with the Student Health Centre’s lifestyle test
You can test your mental health and your anxiety levels with our lifestyle test.
Self-care tips to relieve your anxiety
- Try to stay in the present and direct your focus on the things around you. Make use of your senses to shift your focus, for example what you hear and see.
- Focus on exhaling, push all the air out of your lungs, then simply inhale and breathe again. Take long, deep breaths that you can feel all the way down to your stomach.
- Try to redirect your focus by doing something else for a moment: take a walk, listen to music or call a friend.
- Take care of yourself through regular sleep, diet and exercise.
- Establish good structures and review your study habits.
- Schedule regular breaks and time for recovery.
- Set a time to mark the end of your study day and the beginning of your free time.
- Reduce the stress and demands of daily life so that you have an opportunity to rest and recover.
- Seek help from friends and study together.
- Try to be active during your free time and engage in things that make you feel good.
- Remind yourself that thoughts are not necessarily truths or facts; they are simply thoughts.
- Try mindfulness exercises, meditation or yoga.
- Remind yourself that anxiety is not dangerous – even though it may feel that way in the moment, and that the unpleasantness will subside.
- Try to do things that are important for you – even if it causes you anxiety.
- Talk to someone about how you feel.
A panic disorder can be characterised by strong fear and anxiety that appears suddenly and cause clear physical reactions, for example heart palpitations, chest pain, difficulty breathing, sweating or trembling.
Panic disorder can often be very frightening and the fear may force you to avoid places and situations that can trigger your anxiety. This may limit the spaces that you feel comfortable in and perhaps stop you from doing the things you need to do in order to feel good. A panic attack is not dangerous, though it may feel unpleasant.
- Learn more about what a panic attack is. You can find more information and common symptoms on the NHS website.
- Be active and pay attention to the thoughts that trigger your anxiety and worries, such as catastrophic thinking. Try practicing an approach to cope with them in a more flexible way. It may also be helpful to counter negative thoughts with more calming and positive ones. Mindful meditation exercises may also be helpful.
- Practice breath awareness by observing the flow of breathing and taking long, deep breaths when you are stressed or hyperventilating.
- You can break the cycle of an ongoing panic attack or hyperventilation by following your breathing and not working against it. Make a tight fist and tense your arms and legs with full force, four or five times. This will make it easier to regain control over your breathing.
- Try to substantially increase your heart rate through exercise a few times a week. In doing so, you will ease the symptoms that you experience during an episode.
- Try to accept the fact that panic attacks may recur despite improvements in your well-being. Take comfort in knowing that anxiety is a symptom that will pass.
Metacognitive Group Therapy (MCGT)
Would you like to learn new strategies for dealing with worry and rumination, rather than examine individual negative thoughts or personal issues? In that case, participation in our Metacognitive Group therapy (MCGT) may be useful for you.
When should I seek help for my anxiety?
- If you have recurrent panic attacks for longer than a month
- If you have started to avoid situations and places due to fear of experiencing anxiety and it becomes an obstacle for you in terms of your studies and daily life
- If you try to relieve your anxiety by drinking alcohol, using drugs or engaging in self-harm.
If you recognise yourself in one or several of the patterns mentioned above, you should make an appointment at your health centre.
Make an appointment
You can arrange a meeting at the Student Health Centre for support and advice if your anxiety is related to your studies.
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+46 (0)46-222 43 77
Subject to temporary changes.
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Other healthcare providers are referred to our telephone hours above. Please note that the Student Health Centre does not accept referrals from other healthcare providers.