Lily Owens from hopeindepression.org shares her thoughts on feeling anxiety around preparing for university this September.
If you’re off to university in September you might be feeling a mixture of emotions: excitement, anticipation, nervousness, fear and possibly anxiety. If you are sensitive to feelings of anxiety, keep reading to learn how to best prepare for your life at university.
First, accept that the anxiety you’re feeling is completely normal. I guarantee you’re not alone and there will be others who feel the same. Don't keep these feelings of worry bottled up, TALK to others about your concerns, and try to turn some of the unknowns to knowns.
Perhaps you have an older sibling who has been to uni, a friend, or an older cousin? Alleviate some of your fear by getting some reassurance from them. Although they will not have dealt with a socially distanced uni experience, they will have some knowledge of what to expect.
Often universities have Facebook pages for freshers where you can find course mates and flatmates to get to know before you move down in September. Likewise, get in contact with a local church and find a community of like-minded young people before you've even moved in.
Throw yourself into situations that sometimes make you feel anxious, challenge those anxieties and fears, and just be yourself. You'll make the right friends who will accept you for who you really are.
To ensure you are well prepared for living at university, a big part of taking care of our mental health is self-care. You are going to have your own space, manage your mental health, keep your room tidy. One tip I would give is to make your bed first thing - this way you have a sense of routine and discipline. A tidy room is a tidy mind.
Organisation and cleanliness are key for looking after your mind. If you’re not a very organised person, use the move to university as a fresh start to change those habits.
If you start to feel anxious about a lecture, an essay deadline, or a party, don’t just stay in your room and ruminate with your thoughts, go for a walk or a run. Exercise will burn off those anxious feelings and release endorphins: ‘the happy hormone’!
You can also call up a close friend, family member, or partner and just express those feelings. They will be able to console you and hopefully make you feel a little less anxious.
Sleep is equally as important in keeping you healthy and happy. Stop looking at any devices at least an hour before bed, have a shower, read a book, unwind from the day, maybe offload your concerns into a diary and plan to look at them tomorrow. We all need sleep.
Lastly, it is very easy when you move away from home to live off takeaways, especially if you’re not a very confident cook... but embrace the change, find things you like to make, and try your best to learn new recipes. A healthy diet is crucial in managing your mental health as your gut health is linked to your brain health! Eating large amounts of processed foods will start to cause low mood and anxiety. So, try to have a healthy balance and keep an eye on your diet.
So, to sum up, accept the feeling of anxiety as a normal response to unknown change and speak to others about their experiences. Look after your space and see decorating your uni room as a fun task. Get a good night's sleep by having a routine and a bedtime. Look after your diet and throw yourself into new things, make new friends and try your best to challenge your anxieties!
Hope in Depression is a charity that provides a free 6-week course to empower, educate and equip sufferers of depression and anxiety to be a part of their own recovery. The course is also for supporters of sufferers, equipping them to know how best to help.
Since Lockdown, we have adapted our course into an online format and are now able to reach anyone anywhere (including university students!)
Tell your friends about our Hope in Depression course, you never know who is struggling and you may save a life. Life is to be enjoyed not endured.