Dealing with anxiety at university

Anxiety is one of the most common problems that can affect a student at university, whether you have a history of it or it suddenly drops on you out of nowhere. For the past month or so I myself have developed spikes in anxiety. I’ve never really experienced it before, except maybe getting stuck on a train once (which wasn’t fun!). It took control of my life so quickly that, when I tried so hard to think what was wrong with me, it didn’t even register that it could be the issue, so much so it spiked other problems I’ve overcome, such as depression. I couldn’t travel because it caused me to feel horrendously nauseous, I couldn’t go out on a night out with my friends because the anxiety spiked so high that drinking made it worse, and I couldn’t even arrange to meet new clients for my composition company because my mind wouldn’t calm down from panicking about everything that could wrong while meeting up for a cup of tea at a cafe (I mean, I was imagining stupid stuff like “what if I dropped hot tea over them?” or “what if my lighter malfunctioned and set my jeans on fire?”… crazy!).

But here I am, having found myself able to take control of it and thinking how much it affected my schedule at uni and how it could have affected it more! So I thought for this entry I’d give my five tips on how I managed to take control of my anxiety to anyone themselves suffering from it in their uni life.

  1. Don’t just push it aside! This was one of the first things I did and it consequently made it worse for me. The University Health Service helped me understand my anxiety and how it was working against me, which gave me an easier way to tackle it. It is possible to prescribe medication and therapy courses for people with severe problems with anxiety.
  2. Cute down stress! Now, this may sound like it’s easier said than done, but even the simplest things can create a huge amount of ease for the mind and one thing less to worry about. Sadly, in my case, I had deadlines ahead of me, but I got myself an extension of three weeks and it was one of the first steps that helped me feel a whole lot calmer about what I was dealing with. Whether its getting an extension or not attending a society meetings for a few weeks to free up your free time, make sure you do something to give you a bit of head space.
  3. Consider the simplest things, like lifestyle, diet and exercise! This is one of the most general things suggested when anyone is feeling weighed down by illness, but it has its positives. I detoxed my body from alcohol and smoking while attempting a healthier and more controlled diet than I’m used to for the past month, while also incorporating more walking into my traveling to uni (I find the bus stop outside far more tempting than should be allowed). I also attempted a nightly exercise routine into my evening before I went to bed (yeah, keyword there is “attempted”). This all may or not have been as effective, but it gave me a more positive vibe that I was managing to take control of things lifestyle-wise, and overall it did help lower my anxiety.
  4. Practice makes perfect! Now, I’m very much a logical thinker and I found myself making myself do some of my usual routine more often, things like going out with friends to new pubs and places where I knew my anxiety would become apparent. Now, this may not be the case for everyone but I found by practicing these things I could get used to them again. It meant that I could make myself know that I could feel fine in these places, like clubs and train journeys e.t.c!
  5. Don’t be afraid to talk about it! This is a common problem for anyone with anxiety, the worry about talking to someone about their overwhelming worry… ironic, right? I found a huge amount of support from my mum and closest friends (who nearly all have had bad experiences with anxiety too, but never made it public). They helped me with all of the other points I’ve listed above and kept me motivated to take control of my problem. In all honesty, I think this is one of the most critical action points needed for anyone suffering from any stage of anxiety!

So, I hope this has either been a help to anyone suffering from anxiety themselves, who knows a friend with it or if you’re just interested. Feel free to comment below and thank you for reading!

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