Combatting anxiety at uni

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Uni life is full of anxiety, from the ‘little’ things like getting up for a morning lecture to the massive panic-driven all-nighters to finish writing those final five hundred words of an essay. And while international students may face this more than most, everyone struggles a bit with leaving home and moving to a new town by themselves. You’re in a new area, away from family and friendships that you’ve taken years to cultivate, and you’re now having to make a new social network like you did at a young age. Sadly, our parents aren’t here anymore to force us into playdates, and the brunt of dealing with stress at uni falls squarely on our already-slumped shoulders. Come second term, many students seem to have slowed down (no one’s been to all of the societies they signed up for at Fresher’s Fair!) and started to face things like sleep problems and depression. Irritability, poor sleep, a pounding heart, shortness of breath, and depression are all signs that you might be under more stress than you realise!

Sometimes, all it takes to combat stress and anxiety is just a few small changes in your life. First, assess what exactly is making you anxious. Are you worried about exams? Perhaps find some coursemates to buddy up with for study sessions in the library (book a pod in advance so you don’t procrastinate meeting up). Are your friends starting to get under your skin? Remember that the people you partied with in first week won’t necessarily be the same people you trade secrets with in third year. Perhaps look to broaden your friend group to people in societies with like-minded interests. Or find one person you really get on well with and solidify that relationship.

The NHS also recommends trying to have a healthier lifestyle. This can be particularly difficult at uni, where the main social nights out tend to involve binge-drinking and 3AM trips to Maccie’s, but it absolutely can be done. Plan meals in advance, and you can even cook meals on the weekends and store them in the fridge for easy access on those lazy nights when you don’t feel like cooking something (pop a meal in the microwave instead of ordering out and you’ll save more money than you realise). Make sure that you’re balancing work and play, but recognise that not everyone operates the same way; just because someone else is holed up in their room working seemingly 24/7 doesn’t mean that you should feel bad for going out… But going out every night is inevitably going to take its toll.

If you’re really worried about getting uni work done, try to talk it out with a professor. Talking to friends can be a great release, but ultimately, if you want to do more than just vent, you’ll need to seek out someone in a position to assist you in your academic career. Finding a professor to act as a mentor can be a great way to find an advocate who can help guide you in the right direction for modifying assignments and getting extensions. And for extra support, especially if you find that you’re dealing with panic attacks, make sure you book in to see the GP for extra help!

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