So it's been a while since I last posted. I wasn't really in the right frame of mind to write and I was putting too much pressure on myself for not being able to write anything worth posting.
So, I thought it might be a good time to talk about mental health at university, now that the new semester is in full swing and everyone is starting to think about assignments. University for me has, so far, been one of the best times of my life. It has also been one of the most stressful, I was lucky not to get homesick last year because I was enjoying it too much.
Since I was young I have dealt with anxiety, although it wasn't until I came to university that I was able to identify it as anxiety. I had always just pegged it down to worrying about the little things too much and I taught myself to get on with it, but I completely understand that it's not something that everyone can just get on with.
I'm no expert on this subject, I just felt that it's still something that isn't talked about enough, I know for a while I found it hard to talk to anyone about it. I just wanted to write this post so anyone who has felt like this then they can know that there are people you can talk about it with.
Mental health is one of the main issues students face when in university. In a student survey the National Union of Students carried out, eight out of ten students said that they experienced some form of mental health issues at university, 54% said they didn't seek any advice or support and a third said that they wouldn't know where to seek advice.
It's a hard time for students, especially if you've moved quite far away from home. Since birth your family is a support system, and then your friends from home normally just add to that support system. So moving away for university is scary for everyone because you don't have that support system anymore. This causes a lot of students to become homesick and for many they move back home, either they drop out of university, transfer to one closer to home, or end up commuting to uni.
For me personally, when my anxiety starts up it can cause a lot more issues. It can go two ways for me, either I'll need to be around people (normally my roommates) to distract me from feeling the way I am, or it will effect my mood completely and I'll start to get agitated and take it out on my friends. This makes me feel worse and I'll end up just having to be alone for a while, either in my room listening to music, or I'll have to go outside for a walk and I'll just put my headphones in and not think about much for a while. Music is one my my main helps when I feel really down, it allows me to not think about anything for a while and just focus on what I'm listening to.
Click the photo to have a look at my Spotify playlist
When seeking help in the past, I've been told to just not put myself in a situation where it will make me feel anxious. As you can imagine, this was no help at all! And honestly, made me feel extremely stupid and like the things I was feeling were really trivial and I was almost making them up.
This made it hard for me to talk about how I was feeling but once I started talking about it, I found that there was so many places to go for help! I started talking about it with my family and closest friends, and then I asked my university GP for help and they directed me to my university's health and wellbeing service. I knew this service was available before but I wasn't sure what they could do to help me personally. I already knew what to do when I felt anxious and it was something I've learnt to deal with in the past. But my mum was starting to worry about me, like every mother does when their child isn't home, she was worrying because my anxiety had caused my bad moods to become more frequent. So at her request, I sought out help.
The service at my university was brilliant, they had an initial meeting with me and decided the best route for me. I personally found that 1-1 meetings wasn't best for me, so I'm going to try other routes, but I'm certain lots of people would find it helpful and help them cope with how they're feeling.
This post isn't all about me, I just thought that someone might find it reassuring to see that there are others who have trouble at uni. In the past, I felt like there was a stigma around mental health issues but there really doesn't need to be! I understand that it's a hard subject for people who experience it to talk about, but as soon as everyone starts talking, the easier it is to help others!
Below are my tips for when I'm feeling anxious, or even just a little bit stressed with uni work or my job, I hope it helps!
1) Be around friends - they'll make you laugh and can easily take your mind off it.
2) Watch a movie, something light like a comedy!
3) Phone home - I FaceTime home almost every day, it helps me to not feel homesick and actually seeing my family helps a lot more than just hearing their voices! If you have FaceTime or Skype then I really recommend it, it is so much more effective than just a normal phone call!
4) Relax! Now I don't mean just ignore the feelings you're having! I mean just take yourself to your room, close the curtains, put on a calming Spotify playlist, lie on your bed and just relax. Don't let yourself think about much, just focus on the music. (I normally end up having a nap when I do this which also helps me because it can be exhausting when I've had anxious feelings for a long period!)
5) Go for a walk - put your headphones in, wrap up warm and just walk. Not necessarily to anywhere in particular. Just listen to some music and walk around your town for a bit. If there is a favourite place for you to go then go there!
6) TALK! Talk about how you're feeling with someone. Whether it be with friends, family or with your uni's counselling service. There is always someone who you can talk to, who won't judge you no matter what you might think! It's scary to tell people how you're feeling and the thoughts that are going through your head but I promise you, it'll help you so much!
Let me know if you're a student who has any other tips on dealing with stress or anxiety in uni.
If you'd like to speak privately then feel free to get in touch through email - details are on my contact page!
Below are some services available to help you cope with stress and anxiety:
- Anglia Ruskin's Health & Wellbeing service - or your own university's service, I'm certain that almost all universities will have one, all you have to do is ask or look at their website!
- Mind - they're a mental health charity who offer information and support for a wide range of mental health problems
- The Guardian has a number of articles on their website in the education section about mental health in university
I hope this has helped anyone! The reason I haven't wrote anything in a while was because I've been feeling really anxious recently so today I just wanted to get back into it by sharing this with you all.
Have a good week!