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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University


Anxiety is a normal and healthy human emotion that manifests itself during threatening experiences. Normal episodes of anxiety may occur before your oral class presentation, when going for a big job interview or during especially frightening situations. If this normal feeling of anxiety persists over an extended amount of time, and it is having a negative impact on your life, you may have an anxiety disorder. The following information will increase your knowledge about anxiety and the resources available to help people cope with anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are a group of conditions that are characterized by a sense of foreboding or impending doom.

Anxiety is a normal and adaptive emotion; without it, humans could not survive.

However, when it becomes excessive or is activated by inappropriate triggers (e.g. a crowded store, a harmless dog or leaving the house) a problem may exist.

How do I know I am experiencing anxiety?

  • Rapid or pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath, smothering sensations
  • Dry mouth or feeling of choking
  • Chest pain or chest discomfort
  • Nausea or stomach distress
  • Cold chills or hot flashes
  • Dizziness, unsteady feelings, light-headedness or faintness
  • Feelings of unreality or feelings detached from oneself
  • Numbing or tingling sensations
  • Visual changes (e.g. light seems to be to bright, spots, etc.)
  • Blushing or red blotchy skin, muscle tension, twitching or weakness

What can I do for myself?

Practice deep breathing: Relax your abdomen and take a long deep breath through your nose, hold for 3 counts and exhale slowly. Repeat this step 3 or 4 times consecutively.

Practice positive self talk: Write the affirmations down on an index card and keep them in your purse or pocket to have them available for reference.

Diversion: Divert your attention to something else. An example of a diversional technique is to count backwards by threes from one hundred.

Listen to music: Music can be very relaxing. Listen to music of interest or sound tracks of environmental sounds, such as ocean waves or dolphins chirping.

Learn more at Anxiety BC
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