Uni can be some of the best years of your life, and some of the most stressful too, and figuring out how to beat anxiety at university can be a major source of unease. From exams, studying, and social situations to relationships, dating, budgeting and countless other tasks, it’s easy to feel anxiety hanging over you. And if you’re already an anxious person, all of the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic will have only intensified the feeling.
Something to hold onto is that you are not alone. And if you need to reach out, there are several professionals and hotlines to call at any time.
How to manage anxiety
There is no golden formula to help make anxiety or unease magically disappear, and different solutions work for different people.
Establishing healthy coping mechanisms is an excellent solution to managing acute anxiety. Whether that includes a workout, hanging out with a pet, listening to music, having a nap or meditating – choose something that makes you feel safe and at ease, and turn to it when you start feeling anxious. While some events may trigger feelings of dread or apprehension, others can trigger feelings of calm, and it’s important to identify healthy ways to use these.
Anxiety can also be brought on by feeling homesick, so dialling up loved ones when you’re feeling down can also provide some relief. Only 38% of Brits choose to open up to their close friends about their mental health, but can we all agree that number needs to increase!? Even if you don’t feel like reaching out, speaking to a friend or family member can provide a good distraction from anxiety. You could ask them to remind you that everything is okay or to name three things you can see or three things that make you feel safe, as a calming mantra.
How does anxiety happen?
Research shows that 1 in 5 students have a diagnosed mental health disorder, but only half will seek professional help. More than 78% of students with disorders have concealed their symptoms due to fear of being outcast. This is why it’s so important to talk about and normalise conversations around mental health!
There are many aspects of uni that can be stressful. Living far away from home for the first time, isolation, being surrounded by new people, work-load, COVID – all of these factors coupled with how we cope with stress, contribute to anxiety, and there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.
You may not even recognise anxiety at first. Some of the common symptoms include feeling intensely worried or tense for no apparent reason, while increased heart rate and sweating can also happen. It’s important to note your symptoms so you can identify any patterns, and to contact a professional if they repeat.
How to beat anxiety at university
The first thing that you need to remember is that it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, and it’s also fine to ride the wave of unease and wait for it to pass. And it often does.
If you’re feeling anxious too often and it doesn’t seem to be passing, however, it might be time to chat with a professional. You’d be surprised at how much better you will feel with a bit of outside perspective and an action plan to take care of your mental health! Find out more about anxiety from the NHS.