Updated: 3 days ago
Tips and Resources You Need to Manage Stress and Anxiety At University
Did you know that over 60% of first year university students experienced at least one mental health problem in the last academic year? That’s a lot of people who feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, depressed, or worse.
It is an established fact that mental stress and anxiety often makes its first appearance in your life at university, and is linked to your new taste of independence as a young adult.
Being a student is not easy. You have to deal with daily challenges including assignments, exams, managing a budget, eating healthily, coping with friendships and relationships, and staying healthy. All this can feel very overwhelming and exhausting. 😓
You are not alone. And you shouldn't suffer in silence. There are effective ways to cope mentally and emotionally and you can find support and resources on campus. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to use coping strategies, and practice self-care.
Where To Seek Support and Access Mental Health Resources On Campus
The first thing you should know is that it’s OK to ask for help when you’re struggling with your mental health. You may not even realise that any feelings of anxiety you may have right now could be a mental health symptom. It doesn’t mean this is a sign of weakness or that it will turn into something more serious, or that you're going crazy! It means you’re intelligent enough to recognize when there is an issue, and that you need to deal with it. 🙌
How To Find the Right Mental Health Services To Help You On Campus
There are many services and people available to help you on your university campus. For example:
Counselling: You can talk to a professional counsellor who can listen to you, understand you, and give you advice. They can also help you with things like stress management, coping skills, and referrals. Most campuses offer free or low-cost counselling services for students. You can book an appointment online or by phone.
Helplines: You can call or text a helpline that can offer you emotional support, information, and guidance. They are available 24/7 and they are confidential. Some examples of helplines are Samaritans, Shout, and Papyrus.
Self-help resources: You can access online resources that provide information mental health and how to improve it. These resources include websites, apps, podcasts, and blogs that offer tips, tools, and stories from other students who have been through similar experiences. Some examples of self-help resources are Student Minds (studentminds.org.uk), or Headspace (headspace.com).
Wellbeing groups: You can join a group of students who share your interests or challenges and support each other. These support groups can also be a great way to make new friends and have fun while dealing with any issues. Some examples of wellbeing groups may be yoga classes, art clubs, LGBTQ+ groups, and peer support groups.
Online Resources to Boost Your Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
There are also many people and places that can help you online or in your community. For example:
Websites: You can search online for advice and support for your mental health. The best resources include charities, organisations, and services that specialize in different health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide prevention. Here are a few examples of websites:
Anxiety UK (anxietyuk.org.uk)
Self Injury Support (selfinjurysupport.org.uk)
Honest information about drugs (talktofrank.com/)
Apps: You can download apps that can help you monitor your mood, track your habits, practice mindfulness, cope with negative thoughts, and more. They are easy to use and convenient to access anytime and anywhere. Some of the best apps are MoodKit (moodkitapp.com), Habitica (habitica.com), Calm (calm.com), and Woebot (woebot.io).
Podcasts: You can listen to podcasts that can inspire you, educate you, and entertain you about your mental health. They feature experts, celebrities, and ordinary people who share their insights, experiences, and stories about various topics such as happiness, resilience, and creativity. Some good examples of podcasts to listen to are 'Happy Place' by Fearne Cotton, 'The Happiness Lab' by Dr. Laurie Santos, and 'How to Fail' by Elizabeth Day.
Coping Strategies to Manage Stress on Campus
Coping strategies can help you deal with daily challenges and help manage your emotions and improve your mood. These involve techniques that can help you deal calmly with different situations that may trigger you emotionally, and can help you feel more calm, confident, and in control.
The Power of Positive Thinking and Affirmations
Here are some coping strategies that you can try (click on each section):
You can use breathing exercises to relax your body and calm your mind. They can help you regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. They can also help you focus better and clear your thoughts. Some examples of breathing exercises are belly breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, and box breathing.
You have probably heard of this technique, or tried it at school. Mindfulness helps you be more aware of the present moment, acknowledging the space and surroundings around you, and help calm your thoughts. It can help you accept your feelings and thoughts without negatively judging them and acknowledge your emotions and reduce ruminating unnecessarily. Some examples of mindfulness practices are meditation, body scan, and paying attention to what and how you eat.
You can use positive affirmations - particularly before bedime - to calm your mind, boost your self-esteem and confidence. These are statements that you say out loud to yourself to reinforce your strengths and abilities. They can help you challenge negative self-talk and beliefs. Here are alternative examples of positive affirmations if you're not quite convinced by the conventional kind: “I am capable and resilient”, “I deserve happiness and success”, and “I can handle anything that comes my way”.
Try writing positive affirmations on post-its and sticking them on the bathroom mirror so you say them out loud every morning and night when washing your face!
This is a technique used to think positively and appreciate all the positive things you have in your life. It can help you feel more optimistic and satisfied. It can also help you improve your relationships and well-being. You may wish to practice writing in a journal or paying someone a compliment to put a smile on their face
Tips to Practice Coping Strategies Regularly and Effectively
Practice these actions regularly to find a strategy that works that suits YOUR needs and preferences. Experiment, chop and change to see which coping strategy works best for you.
Try a quick 5 minutes session of stretching or meditation before you get out of bed in the morning to eliminate any tension (just YouTube any of the free short yoga programs available). Don't let your phone distract you or be the first thing you do when you wake up.
Focus on regulating your breathing. Pick a spot in the distance or on the wall, focus your gaze and breath calmly.
Note down the things you’re grateful for in a notebook or calendar, to look back on and help calm your thoughts.
Set a specific time and place to practice your preferred coping strategy by scheduling it in your calendar or setting an alarm on your phone. Try to identify when you feel most anxious, (is it first thing in the morning, or last thing at night?) and practice your coping strategy then.
Be consistent and patient. You may not see immediate results, but with time and repetition, you will notice the benefits.
Seek feedback and support from others in a group, class, or online community who practice coping strategies too. Exchange ideas on what does or doesn’t work for you, and see what works best for them.
The Importance of Self-Care
Top Tips on How To Take Care Of Yourself at University
How much emphasis do you place on taking care of your health and happiness? This includes physically, mentally, nutritionally and emotionally. See how many of the following you apply in your daily life.
Get enough sleep: You need to sleep well to function well – at least 7-9 hours a night. Less than that, and you are not allowing your body to restore itself. More than 9 hours, and you will not be active enough to stimulate your brain during the daytime. If, on the other hand, you experience insomnia, and it is not due to too much caffeine or alcohol, then speak to a medical professional. Sleep helps you improve your memory, concentration, mood, and immune system. It can also help you prevent or cope with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Eat well: You need to eat well to fuel well. Your diet should be balanced with fruit, veggies, protein and dairy to help provide your body and brain with the nutrients they need to perform optimally. Not necessarily on a daily basis, but across the week to maintain a healthy diet. It can also help you regulate your mood, energy, and appetite. You should also drink plenty of water and limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. In addition, vitamins and supplements can help – read our blog on the subject, which includes a list of the right food to eat.
Exercise: You need to factor in to your day some sort of exercise to stay fit and healthy and help you improve your mood, energy, and self-esteem. Physical activity – even walking round the local park - can help you cope with stress, anxiety and depression. You should aim for at least 2 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
Socialize: You need to socialize to feel connected and supported. Socializing can help you build and maintain relationships with your friends, family, classmates, and others. It can also help you have fun, share your feelings, and get advice. It can also help you cope with loneliness and isolation. Make time to socialize with people whose company you enjoy, and who respect your boundaries.
Have fun: You need to have fun to enjoy life and relax. Having fun - and especially laughing - improves your mood, increases your immune system function, regulates your stress hormones. It can help you reduce boredom, and frustration and can also help you improve your creativity, productivity, and well-being. And it's FREE! Try to do something that makes you happy and excited every day - even if it's watching comedians on YouTube - having a really good belly laugh is so good for you.
Incorporate self-care into your daily routine as part of your other commitments and try journaling your thoughts and recording a few positive things each day with our free Self-Esteem journal on the Free Resources tab of our website. You can also download our printable positive affirmation cards below to help get into a positive frame of mind.
Being a student can be both challenging and rewarding and no two students experience their time on campus in the same way. But student life shouldn't be a stressful or miserable experience for you. Remember, you’re not alone, and you don’t have to suffer in silence. You can thrive emotionally and take care of your mental health on campus by the seeking support and resources provided, if you need them, and by using coping strategies, and practicing self-care.
So what are you waiting for? Start today and see the difference for yourself. 😊
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