No matter how much you study, no matter how much you plan ahead, the night before an exam you’re tossing and turning in bed with anxiety. The fear of failure is too much, and it causes your mind to spiral with the “what ifs” of getting a B or an even worse grade. If you don’t do well on this test, your GPA could tank. And if you don’t get a 4.0 this semester, you won’t have the credentials your peers will when applying for grad school programs.

Thoughts like these swirl through your mind as exams and due dates creep nearer and nearer. Everyone says you’re being too hard on yourself, but you just can’t believe that. If you get perfect grades, everything else will just fall into place. If you can excel in this part of your life, everything in the future will be taken care of. Right?

The Pressure to Succeed

Many college students find themselves panicking when it comes to grades. There is an immense level of pressure that comes with getting a degree and a high GPA to accompany it. There are financial pressures, like keeping a scholarship, but there are also social pressures that come from friends and parents.

For many of the college students I work with at my therapy practice in Nashville, TN, getting good grades has been an expectation since kindergarten. In many families, A’s are the only acceptable grades. And while it’s important that families and parents hold children accountable to reach their highest potential, grades aren’t everything.

Image of a man sitting on the floor with his hands covering his face with fingers pointing at him. This image illustrates the social pressure college students feel before starting anxiety treatment in Nashville, TN. 37212 | 37215

If your parents have questioned you about your grades throughout elementary, middle, and high school, then it makes sense that you’d have a hard time accepting anything under an A. It’s likely that you’ve felt like you’re under a microscope when it comes to academics. So when you come to college, you’re used to the expectation of perfection. But getting an A on every single exam and assignment just isn’t feasible anymore.

Putting Expectations on Yourself

Remember, you’re in a whole new phase of life! It’s probable that you’ve moved out of your home, are living in a less than comfortable living situation, and are adjusting to the intensified workload of college. And if you’re like many of the clients I work with, you probably have a job, take all the responsibility in group projects, have a double major, and have a million other things going on. You’re trying to do it all. And realistically, the only expectations that matter these days are your own. You get to set the pace of your study life, work-life, and personal life. But at this point, you’ve set expectations for yourself so high that anything less than perfect feels like a total failure.

What does “failure” look like for you? Does that really mean getting a B on your next exam? Or is it bigger than that? Many of my clients’ deeper fears are about not getting a job out of undergrad or not getting accepted at their dream school. The clients I work with are smart! They know that it takes hard work to make their dreams a reality. But they also have a hard time letting go of control and perfectionism.

Battling Perfectionism with Anxiety Treatment

Image of a young woman sitting at a computer and pinching her nose. This image illustrates what a college student with anxiety symptoms may look like before meeting with an anxiety therapist. Try anxiety treatment in Nashville, TN to find relief. | 37205 | 37204There are many reasons that my clients justify perfectionistic tendencies and an obsession with their grades. One of the main reasons I see at my Nashville, TN practice is anxiety. Many college students have low-level or nonexistent anxiety before starting school. But the pressures of perfectionism can really ramp up the effects of anxiety, causing you to feel panicked about your future and unable to live in the present.

A major impact of anxiety is rigid beliefs. And the expectation to get A’s on everything is certainly that… a rigid belief. When I work with clients in anxiety treatment who are struggling with perfectionism with grades, we work on this rigidity. Now don’t get me wrong, I want you to get good grades! But I also want you to enjoy your life and find fulfillment in other areas. So, in anxiety treatment, we’ll explore where the perfectionistic tendencies come from.

  • Are your grades a self-worth score? Is that why it’s so upsetting when you get a B?
  • Do you fear your parents’ reactions if you get less than an A?
  • Does getting good grades help you feel in control when everything else feels out of control?

How Anxiety Treatment in Nashville, TN Helps

When you meet with me for anxiety treatment, these are some of the exploratory questions we’ll dive into. By addressing the rigidness of your thought patterns, we’ll start disarming anxious thoughts and panic attacks. With time and practice, we can get your anxiety in check and help it become more manageable.

Plus, we’ll help you get some basic coping skills. Getting some good tools in your toolbox for managing anxiety can help you lower your overall stress levels so that a “bad” grade doesn’t become a trigger for a panic attack.

And I can help you look at the big picture and find ways to cut yourself some slack… Remember that the whole world has been messed up due to COVID? We’re all off our game! Or what about your class schedule? Is there a way that we can help you become more productive with a scheduling change? And remember all those extracurriculars you do? There could be a way to cut out a couple of those. With the help of an anxiety therapist, you can really make some changes in the expectations you place on yourself, which will help you better manage your anxiety and panic about grades.

Get Started with Anxiety Treatment in Nashville, TN

Image of a young woman holding a pink coffee mug and smiling. This image demonstrates the relief from anxiety symptoms that can be found working with an anxiety therapist in Nashville, TN. 37203 | 37383As an anxiety therapist, I have seen the power of talking through black and white thinking and rigid beliefs. Processing deeply held beliefs about what grades and what they mean about us as people can make a huge difference in college students’ mental health. This is a time of your life meant for self-exploration. And when anxiety is holding you back, starting anxiety treatment in Nashville, TN can help you start that self-discovery journey. Learn more about my online therapy services and schedule a free consultation call to see if we’re a good fit for your mental health needs.

Times of transition can be so challenging. It’s uncomfortable to be in a new stage of life, especially one that entails packing up your belongings and moving to a new city. The move from being under your parents’ roof to being out on your own is… well, terrifying at times.

Everything you’ve known, from what kind of milk you drink, to which scent of laundry detergent you buy, to even how to load the dishwasher, has been decided for you by your parents. And not necessarily because your parents were inflexible, but likely because you have never had to make these decisions for yourself before. Now that you’re on your own, you have choices! You can go with mom’s usual preferences, or find out what works for you.

Transitioning to Young Adulthood

These seemingly insignificant decisions are indicative of the new freedoms you have as an adult. And while this new freedom is exciting and empowering, it can be pretty overwhelming, too. Whether you have previously struggled with anxiety, or it’s something that’s coming up for you now, big life changes can certainly exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

The whole experience of moving and adjusting to a new way of life can be really uncomfortable. And this makes sense, as there are no certainties anymore. The unknown is scary. But in my experience as an anxiety therapist, I have seen clients grow from the unknown.

In fact, I’ve developed a few tips if you’re experiencing college student anxiety. Some common tendencies of folks who struggle with anxiety are self-isolation, indecisiveness, and trouble staying present in the moment. So, I’ve got some tips for you to consider when anxiety about this time of transition arises.

Anxiety Can Cause Self-Isolation

Image of a young woman lying on the floor and looking at her phone. This image depicts how college students with anxiety may cope before meeting with an anxiety therapist in Nashville, TN for anxiety treatment. | 37205 | 37204For those who struggle with anxiety, it’s common to self-isolate. The adjustment to being responsible for small tasks like keeping your home clean, scheduling meals, and keeping up with laundry adds up and can be overwhelming. This is especially true when you’re also adjusting to a new school schedule and workload.

I’ve found that many of my clients struggling with anxiety during this time of transition are just exhausted. Even when you try to take a break, your brain won’t turn off. “That paper, that assignment, that exam in two weeks…” runs on a loop through your mind. So when it gets to the weekend, spending time with friends may be the last thing you want to do. The energy it takes to socialize when you can’t stop your thoughts is much more than if you just stayed in and watched Netflix by yourself. So you stay in and try to get some rest, only to have your energy zapped day after day by anxious thoughts.

Reach Out

Maybe you’re hesitant to share how you’re feeling with friends or family at home. You don’t want it to seem as if you don’t like college or aren’t excited about this new chapter. Everyone claims “college is the best years of your life,” and you don’t want to be the one who that’s not true for. Plus, when you’ve succeeded in nearly everything you’ve done so far, sharing your struggle can be really uncomfortable.

In fact, many people who struggle with anxiety in college and young adulthood excelled in school and extracurriculars in high school. So, it’s tough to understand what’s going on when you get to college and things aren’t the same. Instead of shutting people out and not letting them know what’s going on with you, I suggest reaching out.

Yes, everyone has their own stuff they deal with. Your parents are overwhelmed with work and your siblings. And your best friend from home is loving their new college campus. But you deserve to feel supported. And your support system wants to be just that for you. Reach out to someone in your support system and try to stay connected. Yes, self-isolating is so much more comfortable. But sometimes, we have to be uncomfortable to grow.

Anxiety Can Lead to Indecisiveness

Often, people with anxiety struggle with indecisiveness. The fear of making the wrong choice can deter you from making a decision at all. Before you lived on your own, someone else made lots of decisions for you, from groceries to curfews and everything in between. So trying to navigate small things like which bread to buy, to bigger things like going to a party or not, can seem overwhelming. And you don’t want to let anyone down, especially yourself. Perfectionism tells you that you CANNOT make a mistake, which can feel paralyzing when it comes to making decisions.

Image of a group of friends eating pizza together. This image depicts how anxiety treatment in Nashville, TN can help college students get out of their comfort zone. | 37212 | 37215I encourage you to seek out new experiences. Go on that coffee date with a new friend. Try that funky new restaurant, even if you don’t know how to pronounce anything on the menu. Spend the extra $10 on the Uber downtown if it means trying something new. The only choice you will regret is not challenging yourself.

Anxiety can hold you back from lots of things. But don’t let it hold you back from having new experiences because you never know, you just might fall in love with something you’ve never even heard of! Dismissing something new because you’re avoiding regret will hinder you from enjoying the process of growth.

Anxiety Can Create Trouble Staying Present

When change is happening in our lives, it’s hard to have room in our minds for joy. Stressful deadlines and to-do lists cloud our brain space, making it hard to appreciate the special moments. You like to plan and have all the details hammered out before you go somewhere. And while this is helpful, it can make your experience more draining than it is enjoyable. While you’re in your head ruminating on what could go wrong or what you “should” be doing right now, you’re missing out on laughs and memories.

You know this because you’ve been through it. Being in the present moment is challenging when you have anxiety. Everything has to be perfect, and when it’s not, it can feel like the end of the world. In social situations, you want everyone to be having a good time. So while you’re worrying about everything being the right way, you’re missing out on connection. This could be connection with others in a social setting, or connection with yourself while you’re just going about your day.

Yes, you have an intense workload that needs your attention. But what about your happiness? When was the last time you shared a belly laugh with a friend? What about the last time you felt connected to someone? These experiences are just as important to your college and young adult experience as getting good grades. Find things that fill you up and bring you joy. Look for the surprising aspects of experiences.

How does it feel to have complete control over your schedule? Do you actually like mornings now that you can spend them quietly planning your day? Maybe cooking your own meals is a newfound sense of comfort. Pay attention to the activities and situations that make you feel good. Then, incorporate them into your life.

Anxiety Treatment in Nashville, TN Can Help

Image of a young woman using a laptop and smiling. This image represents how anxiety treatment in Nashville, TN can help decrease college student anxiety. | 37130 | 37916Over the years, I’ve helped hundreds of college students in Tennessee navigate the weird time of life that young adulthood is. I’ve noticed that many of the clients I work with have fears about things that actually have ended up benefitting them. The things that once made them most uncomfortable about living on their own actually empowered them. And when they did make a mistake or do something out of their comfort zone, they were able to laugh about it and have a new memory. The growth that happens during this stage of life can be used to your benefit for years to come.

But when you’re dealing with anxiety, it can be hard to be hopeful about the future. At my online therapy practice in Tennessee, I provide anxiety treatment to college students in Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis, and all throughout the state. In anxiety treatment, I will help you plan proactively for the things you’re worried about to manage anxiety and stress. And we’ll retrain your brain so that anxious, alarming thoughts are not the first thing you turn to any longer. When you try new things and test your comfort levels, you are actually showing your brain that you can handle new, anxiety-inducing events.

Anxiety treatment has proven to be helpful for many young adults moving into a new place of their own for the first time and starting college. You deserve support, whether that looks like reaching out to your support system or speaking with an anxiety therapist like myself. If you are interested in giving online anxiety treatment a try, please contact me to get started.

Have you ever been in the middle of a busy semester and something brought you to a halt? And that thing gave you a minute to stop and look around at your life? Taking stock of how our day to day routine is going can be surprising. Some of the questions that may come to mind when this happens are:

Why am I so busy? 

Why can’t I stop thinking about my grades? 

Why are my parents always so unhappy with me? 

Why doesn’t anyone understand how I feel?


College students often find themselves surrounded by people but feeling very alone. They may be focused on their assignments, but they haven’t lost sight of how the rest of their life has become unsatisfying. They wonder if they will ever find balance. Or why they can’t stop thinking about how they aren’t good enough. 

Not only that, but the world has been so crazy they are struggling with figuring out where they stand. They notice that their beliefs aren’t lining up with their parents anymore. They may have found people on TikTok or Instagram that say the very things they are thinking, but in their real life they have no idea where and how to live out their beliefs. 

And dating. What in the world is going on with their love life? Everyone else seems to be really happy with their free time. But they feel stuck somewhere between parties that are too wild for them and the long term relationships their roommates always seem to be in. 


Are you doing everything you thought you were supposed to do? 

But you are confused about why everything isn’t working out?


When I work with someone like you, we dig a little deeper into your daily habits. Sometimes we find that your go-to ways of coping are things that worked really well for you in high school. But now, in this new setting, those things aren’t helping you out anymore. 


Does this sound familiar?


Elizabeth’s* parents started fighting a lot when she was in middle school. 

She found the easiest thing to do was to focus on school. If she won the 

speech contest and made the Honor Roll, her parents were temporarily 

happy. She felt very satisfied that she could control that one area of her 

life – school performance. She volunteered to help with the school play 

and she studied for long hours before a test. These things got her out 

of the house and in settings where she could either find quiet or feel useful. 

She wasn’t having great luck with friends. She was left out a lot and they 

would get mad at her over little things. When she got home from school

there was no one to talk to about this. She figured if she just kept going 

she would eventually find some friends. 


Fast forward to college. Elizabeth braved changing her major. Her parents 

were mad but she is so much happier. She is friendly with her roommate.

That’s a relief. But she is constantly unhappy and she doesn’t know why.

One day her roommate pointed out to her that she had been studying a lot. 

Of course, she thought. I’m a student and I need to study a lot. But her 

roommate seemed concerned. Elizabeth was surprised. She hadn’t noticed 

until now, but she did study for too many hours yesterday. She could have 

gotten by with a 1 hour review for that quiz. But instead she thought and 

worried about the quiz all day. She kept telling herself it needed 4 hours 

of studying and not a moment less. 


Fast forward again…it’s Junior Year. Elizabeth’s grades are high. Very high 

by most people’s opinion. But she is not going to relax. Slowing down or 

changing any of her study habits could be detrimental. Too many bad things 

could happen if she made a bad grade. She had heard that the job market 

is tough. She had also heard that her transcript was not going to be that 

important once she started her career, but she blew that off. Of course her 

grades are important. Aren’t they the most important thing? 


I’ll let you in on a secret about Elizabeth. She hasn’t noticed yet, but she is replaying a coping skill she learned when she was younger. She is overfocusing on something that gives her the feeling of control. This helps her ignore the things that scare her. Such as: I can’t control my parents but I can control how I operate at school. Now that she is in college, she is realizing there are more things she can’t control. Her future. It scares her. She has so many fears. There are so many “What ifs?” Her love life scares her too. What if she is lonely forever?


Listen. There is hope. Talk with a therapist, like me. Together we can pinpoint what habits aren’t serving you well anymore. Spoiler: the answer is NOT in more hard work. This may be surprising. When hard workers hit a trouble spot they often don’t slow down. They think they just need to try another version of hard work.


If you identify as a hard worker, you may be having trouble slowing down or shifting gears. It can help to get guidance from a professional. Together, we can figure out why you do so much but stay so frustrated. We can work to help you accept yourself and your flaws. Contact me today and we will get to work.

*not a real client


Jody Dianna, LCSW is a therapist that provides virtual sessions throughout the state of Tennessee. She is a specialist in assisting college students with anxiety and panic attacks.

My clients often identify with the description of perfectionist. And rarely do they see anything wrong with it. It is almost a personal value, like honesty. Or being on time. Always hoping to be their best, do their best…that’s what we should all be doing all the time, right? Many people attribute their good grades to their habit of striving for perfection. Some have even won awards that prove they are great when they set their mind to something. But what about the downsides?

Let’s explore how perfectionistic habits

can unintentionally add stress and conflict to your life.

While there isn’t anything wrong with setting goals and reaching them, perfectionism can seep into unintended areas of our day to day lives. For example, perfectionism can unfortunately contribute to conflict in relationships. How? Well, those that are always wanting to be their best are expecting that of themselves all the time. And usually are expecting that of their friends and family all the time too. And the perfectionist can forget that not everyone has signed on to these high expectations. Any time another person doesn’t meet our expectations we can be left with frustration.

At the very least we can feel unheard, unimportant, and lonely. If we are already struggling with excessive worry or low self esteem, our brains can take the experience and use it as proof that we aren’t important and our feelings aren’t valid. As you can guess, that is closely tied to our self esteem and our behavior in relationships.

 Perfectionism gone wrong…

As an example, have you ever cleaned your apartment with your roommate? In your mind, cleaning meant going room by room with your supplies and methodically taking care of each thing in a room before going to the next? You like doing this with soft music on or maybe a podcast in your earbuds. But when your roommate talks about cleaning the apartment they picture all the windows open, loud music playing throughout and an approach that covers all the counters and all the floors first, rather than a room by room approach. In their experience, your strategy wasn’t necessary because the end result was clean enough for their standards. You both have the same end goal: a clean apartment. But their definition of clean is not the same as yours. And their plan is the opposite of your plan.

Next, you start arguing about this. The simple task of cleaning has resulted in a fight with your roommate. Over a shared goal. Hopefully, this is the point at which you realize that your plan isn’t the only acceptable one. Neither way is really the wrong way to clean. Then you might feel silly about being inflexible about something so unimportant. Or you may start to feel confused. If your intention started out so well meaning, but this situation is going wrong, what does that mean about you?!?!

Does that sound familiar? Perfectionists often get overly upset about small things. Sure, one of those cleaning strategies mentioned above may sound better or worse to you. But neither of them are actually wrong. If you were to slow down and take a moment, you might notice that this situation doesn’t have anything to do with your success or failure as a person.  In other words, no one is giving out clean apartment awards (that I know of!).

How can we be more flexible about these things? We just want things the way we want them! That isn’t too much to ask, is it? Not exactly. It is important to remember that placing rightness above the quality of our relationships is a sign that our investment in perfectionism has gotten off course. People and their feelings are ultimately more important than routines, order, and expectations. Perfectionists often struggle with this.

What now?

Look, I know you mean well. Oftentimes sharing our ways of doing things is intended as a sign of love. The message we are trying to send is that we care. How about this? Consider that showing you care may come through in stepping back, allowing others to voice their needs and wishes, and every now and thing doing things a different way. Even when they seem wrong to you.

Never fear, perfectionistic friend.

This may sound very difficult.  But there is hope. Contact me and we can work on finding flexibility in your day to day life. I provide online therapy in Tennessee to young adults with anxiety and panic attacks as well as related concerns such as perfectionism. In the end, others may feel more cared for and better yet, you may end up enjoying your own company more too!