How to handle anxiety at university

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The pressures of university can sometimes affect your wellbeing as a student, but there are things you can do to help yourself - and you don’t have to do it alone! We all know that uni can be stressful, so, with World Mental Health Day coming up this week, we’re sharing five ways that you can deal with anxiety as a student.

1. Talk it out

talk it out

Talking about how you feel (or a difficult situation you’re experiencing) with someone you trust can really help ease anxious feelings. Expressing how you feel can help you gain perspective on the situation and many people find it’s comforting and reassuring to confide in someone. If you don’t feel like you can talk to your friends or family, there are always people at uni that are there to help you – like personal tutors, senior tutors or student support services – as well as mental health phone lines if you’d prefer to speak to someone you don’t know. Check our Mental Health Hub to find out what services your university offers.

2. Write it down

Write it down

If you don’t feel like talking to someone or your thoughts are so muddled up that you don’t even know what you’d say, why not try writing it down? Even if you don’t know where to start, just grab a pen and notebook and write down how you’re feeling right now and you’ll be surprised by how your thoughts just flow onto the paper (or screen, if you’re using your laptop!). Writing is incredibly therapeutic and can really help get those worries and anxieties out of your mind. Externalising feelings by writing them down can really help free your mind of them – it’s worth a try!

3. Don’t give in to FOMO

Say no to FOMO

The amount of social activities and events going on at university can sometimes seem overwhelming. As fun as they are, it’s impossible to attend everything and you’ll burn yourself out if you try to do too much. Remember that giving yourself a breather and permission to relax or take a night off is just as important as going out and spending time with friends. Take it easy on yourself and your mind will thank you for it.

4. Go home if you need a break

Head home

If you’re struggling or finding things overwhelming, going home could help. Everyone seeks solace in different ways, but if you think home comforts (picture mum’s home-cooked roasts and your own bed) will help, there’s no shame in going home for a while to recharge your batteries and be around supportive family members and friends.

5. Try mindfulness

Be mindful

Mindfulness is all about living in the present moment and grounding yourself in the here and now. It can help ease anxiety about the future because you are only concentrating on your experience right now; the sounds you can hear, the things you can see, the feelings in your body. By practising mindfulness, even for just ten minutes each day, you can become more aware of your present experience and, therefore, less anxious about things that might, or could, happen.

6. Prioritise yourself

Priorities

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you can’t do everything… and that’s OK! The numerous demands that uni presents (academic work, socialising, housework, relationships etc.) can make you feel like you’re being pulled in multiple different directions, which can lead to feelings of anxiety. By learning to prioritise, you can better manage these competing demands. You might have to miss a pub quiz one week because you have too much work to do, but next week you could prioritise that live music night your friends are all going to over starting the next piece of work, which could wait another day. Prioritising will help you reach that healthy balance and thrive in your student life.

For more mental health resources take a look at our Mental Health and University Students page. Alternatively, check our Mental Health Hub to find out who you can contact at your university for more information.