Anxiety and Stress

Stress is your body’s response to a real or imagined threat. When all goes well, stress can protect you from harm. In moderate amounts, it can help you think more clearly, stay focused, and respond quickly. Unfortunately, chronic stress can hurt you and your health. It can affect your sleep, appetite, and ability to concentrate. It’s important to learn how to manage stress so that you can cope with the demands of your classes and everyday life.

Stressful situations — a big test, public speaking, a first date — might make you feel anxious, but that feeling will probably pass once the source of the stress is gone. If you have an anxiety disorder, however, the fear and dread do not go away once the source of the stress is past.

Anxiety can affect your mood, body, and behavior, as indicated by the following symptoms:

  • Anxious thoughts such as “What if I fail?” “I am never going to get this.” “Everyone else is smarter than me.”
  • Feeling overwhelmed or feeling “swamped”
  • Racing thoughts
  • Heart palpitations, shortness of breath, upset stomach, sweaty palms, or other physical responses
  • Behavioral changes such as avoiding situations that trigger anxiety, feeling immobilized, or not eating

(Adapted from the National Institute of Mental Health)

Start Relaxing Now

Relaxation Exercises Audio Series

Part One: Mindfulness with Erick Marks, LICSW
Part Two: Progressive Muscle Relaxation with Nandini Talwar, MD

Other Exercises

Online Mindfulness and Relaxation Resources 

Too Busy to Relax?

Consider that seven to ten minutes spent each day giving your mind and spirit a break could improve your overall performance and academic success.

Stress Management

Managing stress helps nurture your mind, body, and spirit.  Numerous studies suggest that stress management benefits your psychological, physical, and social well-being. The more you practice, the greater the effect.

Stress Management Suggestions

  • Balance your life
  • Write in a journal
  • Talk to a supportive friend or family member
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Blow soap bubbles (if you need some, stop by CMHS)
  • Watch funny videos online
  • Practice mindfulness meditation
  • Exercise, preferably outdoors if weather permits
  • Take an off-campus break
  • Dance
  • Take a 10-minute study break each hour

    Resident Assistants and Other Student Leaders

    If you are an RA, you may be the first line of support for your residents, especially when they’re stressed. Consider using the resources on this page in programming for your residents.

    Useful Apps

    The apps below may help you improve your mental health and quality of life. They are not a substitute for mental health treatment but can be used to supplement treatment. 


    MindShift (iOSAndroid) allows you to monitor symptoms specific to anxiety and also provides coping skills and anxiety-reducing techniques for a variety of situations. 


    Headspace (iOSAndroid) includes 10 free guided meditations you can access any time with the option of in-app purchases for more. Each meditation includes accompanying graphics to aid your practice.

    Additional Phone Apps


    Additional Information

    Mental Health Emergencies
    Emergencies During Regular Office Hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday)

    Contact emergency services through the CMHS front office at 617-627-3360.

    After-Hours Emergencies (5 p.m. to 9 a.m. and on weekends)

    For mental health crises, the after-hours Counselor on Call can be reached by dialing CMHS at 617-627-3360 and following the prompts. For more information, please visit our Mental Health Emergencies page.