Quick Help Guides Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal emotion people feel in response to life stressors – taking a test, making a presentation, dealing with a challenging issue. This normal emotion can become problematic when it begins to interfere with your daily routine, work and relationships.

Anxiety at times can feel disabling, particularly as worry and fear begins to take up more and more of our daily thoughts and everyday experience. Anxiety cannot be willed away, but there are many helpful resources and effective treatments available.

Warning Signs

  • Excessive anxiety and apprehension about a range of events or activities
  • Worry associated with restlessness, fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance
  • Anxiety that is difficult to control and severe enough to interfere with work or relationships
  • Unexpected and recurring moments of panic, possibly including: pounding heart, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, feeling of choking, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, feeling of unreality or being detached from oneself, fear of losing control/going crazy, fear of dying, chills or hot flashes
  • Recurrent thoughts or behaviors that feel uncontrollable

Taking Care of Yourself

  • Find someone with whom you can discuss your concerns. All of us do better when we have a caring friend with whom we can share our troubles in conversation and prayer. In fact, the Bible instructs us to “bear each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).  The staff in the Counseling Center, Student Life, Campus Pastor’s office, and Residence Life are available to listen and support you.
  • Try to identify culprits in your environment. Make a list of situations that trigger anxiety. There may be conditions or situations in your daily life that you can easily change. Also, if a certain person causes you to feel uneasy or insecure, consider sharing how you feel with him or her.  Often people are unaware that their actions or words are causing others concern and pain.
  • Take note of your activities. For example, are you being pressured into volunteering for tasks that cause you anxiety? If so, begin to say “no” to those activities. Simplifying your lifestyle can help reduce stress and anxiety. Making some adjustments in your schedule (e.g., taking a lighter course load or cutting back on co-curricular involvement) can open up time for renewal and restoration.
  • Look inside. Anxiety often stems from long-standing inner conflicts, memories, habits, and concerns.  Sometimes talking to a caring friend about these things is enough to gain a better understanding of your feelings and perspective, but often a trained professional counselor is more appropriate to help uncover hidden sources of anxiety and ways to overcome the sources (see On-and Off-Campus Support).
  • Engage in physical exercise.  Regular exercise can dissipate anxiety, offering physical, emotional and psychological benefits.
  • Make time for God. God’s Word may not supernaturally make your anxiety disappear, but it can penetrate your life and bring comfort if you read a portion of it each day.

How to Help a Friend

  • Listen deeply and compassionately
  • Don't try to fix them
  • Let the anxiety be - Let your friend know they can be anxious with you, that you understand anxiety isn't something they are choosing, and that you won't try to talk them out of their feelings. 
  • Ask your friend what they need
  • Keep them company
  • Hold your own boundaries. You cannot be your friend's therapist, and there are limits to how much you can support. 
  • Talk to someone about your feelings, such as a trusted friend or a therapist at CAPS. 

What if these suggestions don’t work?

The Student Life Office and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) can help you get in touch with specialized help on or off campus. Individual counseling is available on campus in addition to support offered by staff in Campus Pastor’s office, Student Life and Residence Life. 

If you need immediate assistance, please call 911, the On Call RD at (805) 565-6273 or Westmont Public Safety at (805) 565-6222.

On- and Off-Campus Support

On Campus

Student Life Office: Room 209 Kerrwood Hall, (805) 565-6028

Counseling Services: Health and Counseling Center (lower campus), (805) 565-6164

Campus Pastor’s Office: Clark B Cottage, (805) 565-6170

Health Center: Health and Counseling Center (lower campus), (805) 565-6164

Your Resident Directors

Off Campus

SAFTY: Safe Alternatives for Treating Youth 24/7 Hotline 888-334-2777. The SAFTY hotline is provided by Casa Pacifica, a non-profit community based service of Santa Barbara. SAFTY has a mobile crisis team, and will help create a safty plan. This service is provided for students 20 years old or younger.

CARES: Crisis and Recovery Emergency Services 24/7 Hotline 888-868-1649. CARES is a Santa Barbara County Mental Health hotline providing crisis intervention and consultation services. CARES is also a mobile mental health assessment team that will come on site to do an assessment if 911 is called for a mental health emergency. The daytime office phone number is 888-334-2777.

Cottage Hospital 24-hour walk-in Emergency Psychiatric Service: Consultation and crisis intervention for mental health crises and chemical dependency. For consultation by phone call 805-569-8339.

24 Hour Local and National Non-Emergency (non-911) Crisis Hotlines: Santa Barbara County Crisis Hotline: 211.

Additional Resources

Hope and Help for your Nerves by Claire Weekes
Learning how to overcome your battle with anxiety

Take the Stress out of Your Life by Jay Winner
A medical doctor’s program to minimize stress and maximize health

The Control Freak by Les Parrott
Coping with those around you and taming the one within

When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough by Martin M. Antony and Richard P. Swinson
Strategies for coping with perfectionism

Perfectionism by Miriam Adderholdt and Jan Goldberg
What is bad about being too good and strategies for learning how to ease up on yourself

Procrastination by Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen
Why you do it and what to do about it

Shyness by Philip G. Zimbardo
What it is and what to do about it

Happiness is an Inside Job by John Powell
Ten life tasks that help us on our journey towards happiness

The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson, M.D.
A simple meditative technique that helps cope with fatigue, anxiety and stress

When Panic Attacks by David D. Burns, M.D.
Gives you the tools to defeat every kind of anxiety, without lengthy therapy or prescription drugs.

Related Scriptures

Resting in God’s peace and love: Proverbs 1:33 & 19:23, Matthew 11:28-30

Trusting God: Proverbs 29:25

Being Still: Psalm 46:10

Giving God Cares/Anxieties: Matthew 6: 25-34, 1 Peter 5:7