University can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences in your life. However, the pressure to succeed, coupled with the pressure to ‘have a good time’ can also lead to complications, none more important than on your mental health.
Many students struggle with mental health issues while at university: that is a fact. So first of all it is vitally important for you to realise that you are far from the only one who has an issue. And if you think about it, it really is no surprise that this is the case. Think about all the things you are potentially dealing with. There is first-time independence, which although can be immensely enjoyable, can bring its own struggles and stresses because it’s a steep learning curve, especially if you are living away from home. Then there is an intense new social scene for you to get to grips with, and then of course the study.
Then there is the expectation; people constantly telling you that this will shape the rest of your life. That is unhelpful, because it simply increases the burden. To suffer from some form of anxiety when at university is normal, but there are still some practical tips that you can follow to help you deal better with the situation:
You are not alone. Not only will others feel the same as you, there will be others who want to share the burden too. Even if your new friends and roommates are not necessarily feeling the strain just yet, it is very likely that they may do at some point in the future, so you need to adopt an open and sharing culture where you inform each other if you are struggling slightly. And never, ever be ashamed: this can happen to anyone.
Take some time out
Don’t be afraid to step back a little bit if you are feeling anxious. Speak to your family and maybe go back home for a little while before reintegrating yourself back in to the uni ‘scene’. We all need a reset from time to time, and again share the situation with your new university friends. People are much more understanding of the situation than you may think.
The stories go that university students party all night and sleep all day, and at times (such as Freshers Week) this may be true. However, sleep is one of the most vital aspects of our daily routine, and insufficient, disturbed or out-of-routine sleeping patterns can and will start to have an impact on your health, both physically and mentally. If you are finding it hard to get the sleep that you need because of what is going on a round you, then have a conversation with housemates, or take a break as suggested above.
“Everything really does seem all that much better after a good night’s sleep. But just one is not enough, you need to get regular, quality rest, especially at a young age and when you are living so intensely,” suggests Anna Lezar, an educator at Academized and StateofWriting.
This is another cliché of university life, that students eat terribly. Indeed, this may be true for some students, at least for some of the time. Of course the food we eat plays a massive part in our health, and so eating poorly for extended periods of time is bound to have a detrimental impact upon your health, both mentally and physically. For tat reason, try to east as much fruit and vegetables as you can, and take vitamin supplements if you feel you are not getting enough of something in your diet. It’s important.
Go easy on the alcohol
Speaking of clichés, university students drink too much, right? We are not here to judge, but it is important to understand that alcohol as a depressant, and drinking copious amounts of alcohol over extended periods of time will inevitably lead to some anxious feelings. Most people feel anxious with a hangover, even though it may appear that your new friends are immune from such problems. Most of the time it is a mask that they wear, so be open about the way you feel after you drink alcohol, and of course try to limit how much you drink and how regularly you do it. I never want to tell someone to live the life of a saint, but acknowledge how alcohol affects your mental health, and this will help you to accept why you are having the negative feelings you are experiencing,” says Chris Morley, a lifestyle writer at OxEssays and PaperFellows.
We have spoken about leaning on friends and family, but all universities also provide support services for their students that include situations when students are suffering from feelings of anxiety. A visit to the campus GP may also be a good suggestion. Don ‘t be afraid to share the burden and seek help when you need it.
And get some exercise. Dancing all night may not cut the mustard (although it’s a lot of fun!) Exercise releases ‘feel-good’ endorphins which can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.
Chloe Bennet is a tutor at UK Writings and Boom Essays services. She writes about mental health and yoga. Also, she blogs at Essayroo educational portal.