Anxiety Toolkit

April 7th, 2017

Written &  Compiled by Gilles Stromberg, M.A Candidate , Polina Apilado, Psy.D., &  Barbara Thomas, Ph.D.

Illustrated Gif by Jenny Chang*


Welcome! If you’ve come here, perhaps you’re navigating anxiety, or want to support a friend who is navigating anxiety.  Don’t know if you’re experiencing anxiety? Maybe this brief video will be helpful.

Studies by the National College Health Association indicate that anxiety has surpassed depression to become the dominant mental health Issue on college campuses 1. If you are experiencing anxiety, you are part of a larger community who shares similar feelings and barriers. By accessing this toolkit, you are one step closer to a better college experience.

We want to let you know that talking with a counselor at CAPS is a research-supported step in reducing anxiety; however, when you can’t be sitting in our office petting dogs, sipping tea & coffee, and listening to Spanish guitar - these are some great ways to take care of yourself outside of CAPS.

This Anxiety Toolkit was developed with special attention to historically marginalized communities. There is an annotated bibliography at the end for additional information.

10 Research-Based Strategies to Navigate Anxiety


Image result for illustration gif therapy

Illustrated Gif by Chipper Designs*


  • Consider making an appointment at CAPS, which offers brief therapy.  If you feel like you can’t make the call, get in touch with a friend, advisor, or mentor who can make the appointment with you. Research has found that timely appointments and “nipping it in the bud” are helpful 12.

  • On-campus psychological services are designed to be short-term. Off-campus psychological medication and long-term therapy are avenues where you can receive specialized, consistent, and effective support 12.

  • Establish your relationship with CAPS early in the year, and early in your time at USF.  Studies have shown that being involved in counseling at the start of your college career improves your ability to deal with anxiety 7.

  • Expressive Art Therapy can help you feel less anxious, more confident, more positive and more active 8. 

  • USF Resources:

  • Make an appointment with CAPS

  • Related Phone Apps

  • General Resources:

  • Off-Campus Resources

  • Find a Psychiatrist in San Francisco (Customizable)

  • Find a Therapist in San Francisco (Customizable)

  • Comics:

  • A Very Brief Guide to Self Care

  • Express Yourself



    Image result for illustration gif family

    Illustrated Gif by Anna Salmi*


  • If you have a good relationship with your family, work with them to find small ways they can help support you  during your time at USF (sending inspirational little notes, stories of good times, or fun and memorable photos.) 3 4 10.

  • Research has found that family support is particularly helpful in building confidence, communication skills, critical thinking skills, and building relationships 2 5 8 9.

  • USF Resources:

  • The Parents/Family Office Can Get your Family Involved/Engaged with Campus!  

  • Parents/Family Weekend (Happens in October)

  • Related Phone Apps

  • General Resources:

  • Maintain a Healthy Relationship with your Parents

  • 12 Ways Your Relationship With Your Parents Changes As You Grow Up

  • Families of Choice are Remaking America

  • Panel Discussion on Families of Choice - Queer Kinship and Relationship Conference - POLAND 2015 

  • Comics:

    Baopu #19


  • Skype - Stay Together Project

  • Build yourself or join a rhetorical ‘HOUSE’.




    Illustrated Gif by Jun Cen*


  • Connecting with your spirituality can ground you into prioritizing what is important, and to help in establishing purpose 2 3.

  • Finding a spiritual space that embraces all of your identities can be an empowering and instrumental factor in integrating into your new spiritual community 13.

  • USF Resources:

  • Student Catholic Mass - Every Sunday 8-9pm

  • Multi-Faith Meditation Room

  • All-Access Spiritual Outlets on Campus

  • Go On a Centering Retreat

  • Related Phone Apps

  • General Resources:

  • Multi-Denominational Spirituality Centers Off-Campus

  • Start HERE to find a Spiritual Center that is LGBT Friendly!

  • Torah/Bible/Koran or Faith Book Study Groups in SF



    Illustrated Gif by Marcus Gestre*


  • Establish the importance and meaning of the relationships you’ve built or are building. Are you there for each other when you’re sad? Are you friends who go out and dance with each other? It’s okay and actually healthy to set boundaries with friends!  Know  how and when to reach out to each other  4

  • THIS IS THE MOST RESEARCHED-BACKED PIECE OF THIS GUIDE: Connect yourself with support groups and study groups on campus. These are known to help students avoid academic anxiety. They can also reduce anxiety by decreasing alienation and stress. Support groups are also known to reduce stress that may result from being someone who holds a marginalized identity on campus 4 6 7 8 9 11 13 .

  • Imposter syndrome is not uncommon; comparing yourself to others can be misleading and not reflective of the nuances of strengths and skills that you have. You ARE enough 11 .

  • USF Resources:

  • Find Something that Interests you and join that club!

  • International Students - Connect with ISA!

  • On-Campus Support Groups

  • Connect with students with shared Identities at the Cultural Centers (They’re also cool places just to chill)

  • Develop a Relationship with a Peer Tutor

  • Marginalized Men of Color: Connect with PACT

  • Great Areas in the Library to Study together!

  • Related Phone Apps

  • General Resources:

  • San Francisco Support Groups

  • More SF Support Groups

  • For Women and Trans Folks: Support Groups  at Lyon Martin

  • Videos:

  • The Purpose of Friendship

  • How to Start a Study Group

  • How to Study

  • Comics:

  • Other-Care - Baopu #21

  • 5.) FACULTY & ADVISORS ARE THERE FOR YOU, MORE THAN YOU KNOW!Image result for illustration gif nice teacher

    Illustrated Gif by Google Doodles*



  • Academic Advisors and CASA coaches are great sources of knowledge regarding academic resources on campus! If you’re struggling academically, your CASA coach can assist 2 !

  • Professors want to help you be successful - when you’re successful, they’re successful!  Communicate with them if you are falling behind. If you’re honest about a sudden barrier, professors may be accommodating. If you’re having trouble in navigating accommodations, Student Disabilities Services may be helpful 2 5 8 9 .

  • USF offers a variety of creative classes - checking in with faculty/advisors  to see if you can audit the course may be a way you can carve out time in order to relieve some stress through art, dance, yoga, physical education, meditation 8 .

  • USF Resources:

  • Develop a Relationship with a Peer Tutor

  • Make an Appointment with an Academic Success Coach

  • From CASA: 10 Tips on Talking to Your Professor

  • Get in Contact with Faculty using the Faculty Directory

  • Course Book - Look for Classes you can audit!

  • Related Phone Apps

  • General Resources:

  • Free Yoga

  • Free Runners Groups

  • Free Park Meditation




    Image result for illustration gif mindfulness

    Illustrated Gif by Marie Spénale*


    Identify your emotions.

    What is upsetting  you? What are the things that make you sad? What are your major stressors?  Identify and name catalysts that cause distress. Research has suggested stressors may include the perceived scrutiny of professors and classmates, stereotyping/discrimination,  negative life events, negative thoughts, and perfectionism 6 7 .

    Walk yourself through a simple exercise of Interpersonal Therapy. Ask yourself:

  • Am I dwelling on a recent conflict?

  • Have I had recent life changes that affect how I feel about myself and others?

  • Am I experiencing grief? 

  • Am I having difficulty in starting or keeping relationships going?”

  • If  you feel this is true for you, individual counseling may be the most appropriate option 12 . If you’re having a hard time naming what you’re feeling, there are counselors on and off-campus who are ready and waiting to help you through that process!

    USF Resources:

  • Make an appointment with CAPS

  • Get in touch with the on-campus Case Manager (call Program Assistant and ask for Associate Director Case Management)

  • Related Phone Apps

  • General Resources:
  • Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ)  Scores range from 0 to 66. Higher scores on the MFQ suggest more severe symptoms. Scoring a 27 or higher indicates pervasive symptoms that require attention.
  • Off-Campus Resources
  • Find a Psychiatrist in San Francisco (Customizable)
  • Find a Therapist in San Francisco (Customizable)

  • Videos:

  • Naming Anxiety

  • How to sit down and think

  • Why Mindfulness is a Superpower

  • How Mindfulness Empowers Us



    Image result for illustration gif mindfulness

    Illustrated Gif by Chris Phillips*


    After  identifying your feelings, determine how you would like to feel.

  • Self-affirming statements (Examples: I am really good at petting dogs, I know a lot of cool facts, I’m always willing to try new foods) regarding what you like about yourself and your life can be helpful 6 12 .

  • Gain a sense of awareness of what you can and can’t control; know that for things you cannot control, you have a limited scope of influence and prioritize your energy from there 6 .

  • Learn to be assertive. Knowing how and when  to stand up for yourself and advocate for your wants and needs is important 14 .

  • USF Resources

  • CAPS “How are you Feeling?” Self Assessment

  • Related Phone Apps

  • General Resources:

  • Life Goal Questionnaire

  • Where You Are vs. Where You Want To Be: 8 Steps From Fear to Greatness

  • Videos:

  • Jessica’s Daily Affirmations - Little Girl Stands on Bathroom Counter and lists things she loves.

  • How Mindfulness Empowers Us




    Image result for illustration gif going outside

    Illustrated Gif by Tara Jacoby*


  • Perhaps you feel like you’re not grasping class material as well as other students. Maybe you don’t know much about San Francisco.  Perhaps you’re an international student who isn’t confident using English just yet. Take a moment to identify someone who you feel has a greater grasp of what you’re trying to achieve, and ask if you can spend some time with them as they do the activity you’re nervous about. The more you demystify the activity you feel bad about, the more confidence you can have in approaching it. If what you’re nervous about in the first place is approaching people - look to mentors, old friends, and classmates you worked with and ask for help5.

  • This is something that people hate to hear, so I want you to get emotionally ready to hear it...

  • ...exercise can help reduce anxiety.

    You don’t have to go to the gym everyday, or make an immediate/drastic change to your lifestyle. Exercise can mean doing something as simple as taking a walk outside and taking some deep breaths of air,  stretching after taking a nap, riding a bike, or taking a class at Koret. Remember - exercise means move your body!  2 .

  • If you’re someone who spends the majority of the time on the internet, find ways to limit your time. Studies have found that students who limited their internet use to 1 to 2 hours a day had lower depression and anxiety scores compared to those used the internet more frequently  2 .

  • A great coping strategy for anxiety is giving yourself other activities to fill your time. Cooking/baking, creating art,  or reading can be helpful deterrents to anxiety  2 8 .

  • USF Resources:

  • Marginalized Men of Color: Connect with PACT

  • International Students - Connect with ISA!

  • Have an Addiction? Get help!

  • Intramural Sports

  • Student Clubs

  • You Have Free Access to the Koret Health Center! 

  • Eating a lot of Junk Food? Work with the On-Campus Dietician!

  • Related Phone Apps

  • General Resources:

  • 50 Ways to take a break

  • Website restriction tool.

  • Computer Software Program Blocker/Time Restriction

  • TRY AND SELL ME ON COOKIN:I hate cookin/aint got time/aint got money.


    Image result for illustration gif medical doctor

    Illustrated Gif by Freepik*


  • If you’re feeling crappy (fatigue, restlessness, sweating, irritability, racing or unwanted thoughts, feeling of impending doom, insomnia, nausea, poor concentration, sensation of an abnormal heartbeat, or trembling) some of your symptoms may be the result of anxiety. You may want to  make an appointment with a physician and  consider visiting a therapist as well. Holistic health serves the whole person! 2

  • USF Resources:

  • Campus Health Clinic - Make An Appointment

  • You Have Free Access to the Koret Health Center! 

  • Eating a lot of Junk Food? Work with the On-Campus Dietician!

  • Health & Wellness has A Lot of other Resources!

  • Related Phone Apps

  • General Resources


  • Emotion, Stress and Health: Crash Course Psychology

  • Reducing Stress by Taking Care of Your Body Early in the Morning




    Related image

    Illustrated Gif by Eden Weingart*

    When you are in a new environment there is an an adjustment curve.  Over time, as you adjust, anxiety reduces. If you're new to USF, the Bay Area, a living situation, or friend group - time is a great healer 10 .

    Videos/Interactive Websites:

  • Time Heals all wounds, or does it?

  • 10 Tips for Adjusting to new Surroundings

  • Here’s How to make waiting a little less excruciating

  • ENYA - Only Time

  • Related Phone Apps


    1 Brown, J. (2016, October 2). Anxiety: The Most Common Mental Health Diagnosis in College Students | BU Today | Boston University. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from

    2 Han, X., Han, X., Luo, Q., Jacobs, S., & Jean-Baptiste, M. (2013). Report of a Mental Health Survey among Chinese International Students at Yale University. Journal Of American College Health, 61(1), 1-8. From

    3 Hinojos, B. (2013, July). Stressors and Coping Strategies of Undocumented Latinos in erapy. Retrieved February 1, 2017, from    

    4 Jarama Alvan S.L., Belgrave,F.Z., Zea M.C.(1996). Stress, social support, and college adjustment among Latino students. Retrieved February 1, 2017, from

    5 Jing, H., & Junying, Z. (2016). A Study on Anxiety in Chinese EFL University Students. English Language Teaching, 9(9), 179-184. From

    6 Johnson, A. B. (2006). Performance Anxiety Among African-American College Students. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 20(4), 31-38. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from

    7 Kirsch, A. C., Conley, C. S., & Riley, T. J. (2015). Comparing Psychosocial Adjustment across the College Transition in a Matched Heterosexual and Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Sample. Journal Of College Student Development, 56(2), 155-169.

    8 Kuo, C., Lin, C. I., Kuo, B., Kuang, C., & Dai, L. (2016). Learning Experiences of Young Artists with ASD in a University Enrichment Program. Universal Journal Of Educational Research, 4(9), 2144-2162.

    9 Lin, X. (2016). Barriers and Challenges of Female Adult Students Enrolled in Higher Education: A Literature Review. Higher Education Studies, 6(2), 119. Retrieved from

    10 Potochnick, S. R., & Perreira, K. M. (2010, July 19). Depression and Anxiety among First-Generation Immigrant Latino Youth: Key Correlates and Implications for Future Research. Retrieved February 1, 2017, from

    11 Reed, M. J., Kennett, D. J., Lewis, T., & Lund-Lucas, E. (2011). The Relative Benefits Found for Students with and without Learning Disabilities Taking a First-Year University Preparation Course. Active Learning In Higher Education, 12(2), 133-142.

    12 Reisner, S., Katz-Wise, S., Gordon, A., Corliss, H., & Austin, S. (2016, August). Social Epidemiology of Depression and Anxiety by Gender Identity. Retrieved February 10, 2017, from

    13 Walker, J. J., & Longmire-Avital, B. (2013). The Impact of Religious Faith and Internalized Homonegativity on Resiliency for Black Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Emerging Adults. Developmental Psychology, 49(9), 1723-1731.

    14 Xie, D., & Leong, F. L. (2008). A Cross-Cultural Study of Anxiety among Chinese and Caucasian American University Students. Journal Of Multicultural Counseling And Development, 36(1), 52. From

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