University can be stressful, and feeling anxious or worried during your stay is more common than you think. According to an NUS survey, nine in 10 students experience stress while at uni.
But why is university so stressful? Feelings of worry and anxiety can be triggered by various factors, including exams, maintaining a good work/life balance, finances, social pressures and even political and environmental issues can play their part.
How Mental Health Affects Students
Mental health issues can hugely impact a student’s performance and experience at university. This includes stress and anxiety, lower grades, antisocial behaviour, sleep difficulties, and depression.
Six Ways to Cope with Anxiety at University
While these can be overwhelming and difficult to contend with, there are things you can do to cope with anxiety at university.
1. Get involved
Having an outlet to release your stress or simply forget about your fears and anxieties is a great start. Getting involved in activities, hobbies, and volunteering or student mentoring programs can be a positive distraction to what’s on your mind, as well as give your university life more purpose and excitement. What’s more, activities like mentoring, volunteering or being a part of a student group or society will look great on your CV.
2. Practise self-care
While we worry about everyday stresses, it is easy to let our physical health slide. A run-down body can affect your mental health, so it is important to get enough sleep, eat healthily and stay hydrated. Getting exercise acts as a way to stay in top physical and mental shape. You could also try walking, yoga or meditation.
3. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Being overly self-critical is one of the biggest reasons young people suffer from anxiety at uni. While grades are important, do not fixate on your failures and mistakes as this can actually sabotage your grades, mental health and overall university experience.
4. Use the support systems around you
Speak to someone at your university to find out what kind of programs and support are available.
- For example, the University of Bath recently launched two new initiatives to help students with wellbeing and mental health, namely Read Well, a scheme that helps students understand and manage their mental health through self-help books, and Silvercloud, an online self-help platform for wellbeing and mental health.
- The University of Aberdeen features ‘One-At-A-Time-Focused Counselling’, while Oxford University offers support services to students as well as parents, carers and university staff. The University of Liverpool offers mental health services to disabled students and those with disability-related issues, and Newcastle University helps students and staff with mental health and counselling services, information, self-help resources and free mobile apps.
- The Mind Initiative, which was designed to boost mental health support, has several participating universities, including the University of Bath, The London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.
These are just a few examples, and virtually every university will have a host of programs and initiatives similar to the above.
5. Talk to a trusted friend or advisor
Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. At uni, you are surrounded by peers who are likely going through the same experiences as you are. If you are struggling, talking to a like-minded peer could ease feelings of fear, isolation and anxiety. If you prefer a more private experience, speak to a professional at your university for confidential and discreet advice.
6. Seek help
Never hesitate speaking to a professional about getting your stress and anxiety levels under control. Remember that this is 100% confidential, so there is no need to worry about any shame or stigma attached to mental health issues.
Student Mental Health Services:
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