Physical Signs You Might Be Anxious

College students often say things like “I’m so stressed!” Anxiety is a natural part of being alive. It can even fuel us to take action and reach our goals. But how do you know when your anxiety might be problematic?  Would you recognize symptoms of anxiety that are interfering with your daily life?

Let’s take a look at the case of “John.”

John is a 20 year old USF student who works part-time in addition to being a full-time student. He has always been a worrier, but lately he notices he cannot “turn his mind off.” He constantly worries about failing his classes, completing projects at work in a timely manner, being able to please his parents, and paying bills. In response to these pressures, John begins to keep a low profile at work. He also starts to avoid going out with friends and meeting new people.

A couple of times a week, John notices that he is so nauseous that he skips a meal. He also sweats a lot – more than he would predict even on hot Florida days. Sometimes his heart races and he feels dizzy. At night, John can lay awake for more than an hour while trying to fall asleep. His mind races even though he is tired. When he lays down, he can feel how tight his shoulders are from being tense all day.

John’s friends recommend he eat protein in the morning to soothe his stomach and encourage him to “relax.” John has tried following these recommendations, but they have not helped. He struggles to concentrate during his classes, and this only increases his worry about his academic performance and job prospects. It is becoming a vicious circle.

All of John’s symptoms, including his physical ones, can be attributed to anxiety. The anxiety has begun to interfere with his daily life, including his job, academics, relationships, and health. Therefore, John may benefit from learning some skills to manage his distress.

Symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • Restlessness, feeling “wound-up,” or being “on-edge”
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

There is good news for John, and for you if you recognize these symptoms in yourself. There are many resources at USF to help you manage your concerns and develop healthy habits for success in the future.

Check out these resources: 

  • Use this online mental health resource. It is free for USF students, and is confidential, convenient, and controlled by you.
  • Let’s Talk:  This is a brief consultation – it takes around 15 minutes to complete and requires zero paperwork. Simply drop in one of our on-campus locations to speak to a counselor.
  • CounselingUSF has a variety of drop-in groups, group counseling, and individual services to help you address your mental health needs.
  • Feel Better NowThere are resources for practicing meditation, positive thinking, and healthy coping options.


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