4 Tips On How To Cope With Anxiety At University

anxiety for students

Anxiety is something that affects most of us at some point in our lives. To a greater or lesser extent, we all experience anxiety from time to time. It’s not too uncommon for students to experience some sort of anxiety when going to University. There are lots of changes, meeting new friends, studying new subjects, settling into new accommodation, and stressing over exams. And, for international students, this can be even more stressful. Relocating to a new country can in itself be very daunting and stressful. Having to learn a new language and being away from family and friends and integrating into a new culture can sometimes feel overwhelming. But, luckily there are several ways students can learn how to deal with crippling anxiety. We’ve rounded up four handy tips to help you out next time you find yourself struggling and to help you reduce anxiety university students.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling of worry or unease we get when we don’t feel confident about the outcome of something. According to Healthline anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. On the first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous. There are a few common anxiety signs and symptoms to look out for which are; feeling nervous, restless or tense, having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom, having an increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, feeling weak or tired and trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry. The impact of social anxiety on students can be overwhelming and it’s important for students to be aware of their thoughts and to seek help if these moments of worry spiral and sprawl out of control, leading to panic attacks, and a feeling of being trapped which in turn can impact both the sleep and physical health.

anxiety and student performance

Anxiety and student performance

As a student at university, you’re exposed to lots of stress factors meaning you may be more prone to bouts of anxiety than others. Student anxiety and depression can be brought on by things like homesickness, exam stress, feeling out of your depth, loneliness and lack of friends. But before the dark clouds start to appear over your head there are several ways to reduce negative thoughts and stress which can help with social anxiety among students and also when it comes to anxiety and student performance. 

 

Become familiar with your triggers

A good starting point is to get to know your anxiety triggers. But what is it that triggers anxiety? Some situations that cause anxiety are universal. For instance, public speaking, dating, or starting a new job would make most people feel anxious to some extent. These are common triggers since the experiences apply to many people and can include; performance, sitting an exam, health conditions, social interactions, money issues, difficulty in personal relationships and stress at work or at school. However, there are also personal triggers causing anxiety that wouldn’t apply to everyone. Usually, these triggers are reminders of negative memories or traumatic events that are based on a person’s specific and unique life experience. A personal trigger could for example be a specific place or something you experience with your sense of smell or sound reminding your mind and body of a negative experience or trauma in the past. How to use triggers to your advantage? Make time and plan ahead before an anxiety-provoking situation. This can include using humour, repeating a calming mantra, bringing a comfort object or creating a ritual. 

erasmus program

Find A Hobby

Sometimes as students it’s easy to only focus on studies and grades. But this can reduce your mental health and increase your anxiety issues. It’s important to take a step back from the textbooks from time to time and to do something completely different to release all that stress. Finding a new hobby or taking up an old hobby during your university years can be immensely helpful. Most universities offer various societies and sports clubs. Another great way to take your mind off your studies is to volunteer or offer student mentoring. By helping younger students some of your mental energy is directed outside of your own problems. Sometimes going for a walk and spending time in nature is all that’s needed to rebalance the body and mind. Nature is a wonderful stress and anxiety reliever and it for free! 

Take a breath

Breathing sounds easy enough, after all, we do it automatically without even thinking about it. However, most people with anxiety and depression are over-breathing. It’s something we all do without thinking about it. But when we do think about it, focus on the rhythm of our breathing and being present in the moment, we’re practising very simple mindfulness. According to Sensate more than 30 years of clinical observation show the link between over-breathing and a host of medical symptoms. These include sleepless nights, tension headaches and hypertension. As well as, muscle pains, fatigue, sleep apnoea, breathlessness, chest pain, sexual dysfunction, and anxiety. The website encourages anyone suffering from anxiety to breathe out, as effortlessly as possible, for longer than you breathe in and to make this your mantra “If in doubt, breathe out”. 

For those who are interested in additional help, there are several health apps right at your fingertips. Apps like Headspace, Calm , and the imaginatively named Mindfulness App are all free and will give you hints, tips, and meditation techniques you can bring into your routine when you know you will be exposed to your anxiety triggers.

student meditation

Avoid Isolating Yourself

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that if you are suffering from anxiety as a student, you are not alone! It’s more common than you might think. When we feel anxious it can be tempting to isolate ourselves but consider visiting places where you can just be around other people – for example, a park, the cinema or a cafe. Being around other people can ease the anxiety level and also assist you with not getting too ‘stuck in your head’ overthinking.

 

Apart from being surrounded by other people, try to open up and speak to other students about how you feel. Chances are many of your classmates may have had similar experiences with anxiety and stress as you. Once you’ve opened up to another person, it can feel like a huge relief since as they say -a problem shared is a problem halved including anxiety at university.

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