Beating the anxiety culture of university


All universities prospectuses should come with a health warning that emotions such as stress, anxiety and constant worry come hand in hand with your degree, or at least they should include it in the small print. I’m a third year student and, nowadays, can be brought to floods of tears every time the D-word (yes, dissertation) is brought up in conversation. Constant worrying can take a heavy toll; it keeps you up at night and makes you tense and edgy during the day.

Worrying can be like a parrot sitting on your shoulder rambling on about all the awful things that could happen to you, how dreadful they will be and how little you can do to prevent them. Consequently if you spend too long listening to the parrot then you will start to believe it. We all suffer from anxiety from time to time but it’s how we deal with these emotions that matter. So here are some tips to help prevent stress from dictating your life.

Taking action

There is often something you can do about a situation you feel anxious about. Consider each preoccupying thought, one by one, and then decide whether there is something that could be done about it. Make a list of possible solutions, starting with the most pressing worry first.

Set a worry time

Set aside ten minutes during the day especially for worrying as, by designating a time to think about all things stressful in your life, the rest of the day should hopefully be stress free to tackle your problems. Then if something starts niggling at you during the day, you can block it out until your next worry time.

File it away

Keep a notebook with you at all times, especially at night. This way when a worry pops into your head you can write it down, ready for your next allotted worry time. Hopefully this will allow your mind to be stress free to enable you to get some much needed rest.

Positive outlook

Write down all the things you are thankful for and what is good about your life such as “I have loving parents supporting me through thick and thin” or, simple, “I’m healthy”. Then look at these whenever you dwell on any anxious thoughts and remember how lucky you actually are. Not everyone has the opportunity to further their education and enjoy the wonderful times that we experience at university.

Get physical

Physical activity gives you something positive to focus on and triggers brain chemicals that improve your mood, helping you to deal better with stress. It will also give you something else to think about and will give you more energy for those long nights ahead when a deadline is looming.

Have something to look forward to

It’s amazing how having something to look forward to can improve your overall mood and keep your mind from worrying.  It doesn’t have to be anything big, it can be as simple as a weekly movie night with some friends or why not take the full day to chill and escape from Lancaster; the Lake District and Manchester are only an hour away.

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