Starting university: anxiety

You've got the best years of your life ahead of you - but if the idea of going to university is making you nervous, don't panic.

Anxiety comes in many forms; it isn’t necessarily a problem, as it’s your body’s natural reaction to recognising danger. However, it’s not a surprise that it can affect students. If you’re heading off to university or college this autumn, you’ll have been immersed in a tidal wave of work already. In meeting the expectations of parents, teachers and friends, you can feel like you’re taking a lot on, and anxiety can develop. This can lead to symptoms such as insomnia, loss of appetite, knotty feelings in your stomach, low energy and mood swings. You may even have trouble breathing, and experience panic attacks. These symptoms appear gradually and can go unnoticed, making you unsure where to turn. If it starts to affect your life on a day-to-day basis and stops you from doing the things you want to do, you should see about getting some help; the good news is that there’s plenty of help out there.

Where does it come from?

Moving home is generally considered to be one of the most stressful things to do. But what about moving to a new home and town, leaving your friends and family and finding money to pay your fees and living expenses? Pile on the pressure of exams and part-time work and you can feel like you’re juggling too many balls. The average student graduates with around £17,500 of debt, which can also be a big worry. People deal with these stresses differently; some people’s personalities, due to genetic factors or previous experiences they have had,may mean that they become overly anxious.

Get back in control

If you’re experiencing anxiety in any form, remember that it won’t last forever. Just as the feelings of anxiety come on gradually, they will ebb away. Anxiety is a common occurrence that people around the world go through. You’re not alone, and there are plenty of places that you can get support.

One of the best ways to let the feelings out is to talk. Amanda Edmondson, who works as a schools consultation officer for the Samaritans helpline, says: “Talking about your feelings puts you back in control and reveals the choices you have. Many people feel pressured into hiding their feelings out of embarrassment or concern, not wanting to burden family or friends, but hiding under a calm exterior only saves the problem for later and stress can build up until it becomes unbearable.”

Talk to friends, family, teachers or anyone you feel comfortable opening up to. If you don’t want to speak to someone you know, book an appointment with your general practitioner (GP) or the counsellor at your university or college, and tell them how you’re feeling.

Look after yourself

It’s even more important to look after yourself if you’re feeling anxious. Eat a balanced diet and make sure you drink lots of water; carry a large bottle around with you and refill it from the tap. You should also aim for around seven to eight hours of sleep per night; if you have trouble sleeping, try taking a warm bath before bed, use a black-out blind to darken the room or drink calming camomile tea before bed.

Richard Perry, who recently graduated from University College Birmingham and suffered from anxiety during his studies, recommends staying on the ball. “Always remember that there are lecturers and other students who will take time to help with any problem you might have. I mainly found that really getting my teeth into a project helped, not to mention getting organised!”

Help is out there

Anxious feelings are temporary and loads of help is available. According to Perry, the most terrifying thing that he did was to get help. “I spent so long feeling desperate that, by the time I actually spoke about what was happening, I realised that I had cut myself off. When I went to see the counsellor at uni, things slowly started to make sense again.”

Most people experience feelings of anxiety at some point, so never be afraid to speak out. These feelings are completely normal and can be conquered. There are plenty of ways to have an amazing time at university – making lots of new friends and having experiences that’ll shape the rest of your life – so make sure you get involved!



Web watch

Samaritans
You can call 08457 909090 in the UK or 1850 609090 in the Republic of Ireland. They’re a registered charity, offering confidential, 24-hour emotional support for all www.samaritans.org.uk



NHS Direct
Provides 24-hour access to health information and advice. Call 0845 4647 to be put through to a nurse, or to locate your nearest doctor’s surgery and GP www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk



Nightline
A listening, support and information service, run by students for students. Visit the website to find your local service www.nightline.niss.ac.uk/local.html



Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Technical Support Analyst (C++, Windows, Linux, Perl, Graduate)

£30000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global leader in trading platforms and e...

Junior IT Consultant (SQL, Java, C++, Oracle, Graduate)

£28000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A fast growing consultancy to the financia...

Technical Support Analyst (Windows, Linux, Unix, Graduate)

£30000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Support Analyst - Liverpool Stre...

Application Support - Unix, Linux, Windows, Bash, Perl, Python

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: An established leader in the Trading Syste...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice