Updated: Oct 15, 2020
How to Survive Anxiety at University
I’m not going to attempt to abstain from not using colloquial language here. We could outline statistics and articles about what anxiety is, why it happens and, while this is all important I can’t help but think that at the end of the day, anxiety just sucks.
It’s crap. It’s a terrible feeling. But it happens and it will happen to each and every one of us at some point in our lives. There it is. I said it.
So what are we going to do about it?
I think this article is especially timely in the midst of a world pandemic, which is something unfamiliar to us all. We are a generation so fuelled and influenced by the media that we have the upper hand to teach ourselves (and those who are not as familiar with technology) to be socially connected in a time of physical distancing.
I took to Instagram to draw in ideas from those around me who I know are in the process of undertaking their studies in order to grasp how everyone copes. I narrowed it down to what I believe can aid all kinds of learners.
A little disclaimer, just so we are on the same page - I am in no way, shape or form trying to act like a psychologist or counsellor. I have no professional experience and these are my opinions. If you are really struggling, please contact one of the numbers or hotlines at the end of this article and start your journey to feel OK again.
You are not alone.
On that note, here it is -
Let’s call it ‘My University Anxiety Survival Kit’
Keep a Journal.
Journals don’t always have to be written books about your feelings. It can be drawings, it can be poems, pictures, a scrapbook. A journal for you is your own way of manifesting your feelings and emotions. Try a few different ways, you’d be amazed to find what will work for you.
Make a Routine.
Now there’s a bit of stigma around routines. Having a routine doesn’t mean you’re a robot who does the same mundane thing every day (unless that works for you!) When making a routine, I suggest starting with one or two things you consistently do each day. I read somewhere it takes 21 days to form a habit, so start small.
Maybe you can wake up and meditate, or wake up and read a book for 20 minutes instead of jumping straight on your phone. The online world will always be there, look after your own mind first. You can build your routine up as little or as much as you like.
Food is Fuel.
One of the healthiest routines you can have is consistently eating at least 3 healthy meals a day. Try not to underestimate the power of food.
You wouldn’t take your car on a long, difficult drive with no fuel, so why should you attempt to undertake your studies without feeding yourself?
Organise and Time Manage.
Keep tabs of all your assessments and break things down into smaller tasks to make them seem less daunting. You can even make some lists and tick them off as you go (it’s pretty satisfying).
Hand Your Assessment in Late.
OK I know what you’re thinking. This one is a bit left-wing, but it is one of my favourites and I wish I heard it earlier. Hear me out. A friend of mine on instagram said, and I quote, “hand stuff in late, because it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re having fun and learning something”. Man this is so true.
I’m not encouraging you to go out and party and leave your assessments to the last minute, but rather enjoy the process of learning. We’re so lucky to be able to further our education at a university, tafe or college, so take the time you need to make sure it is a process you look back on fondly after graduating.
Listen to Your Body and Mind.
Especially when you need to take a break. You know yourself more than anyone, so if a burnout is around the corner you need to know how to reground and refocus. Find your outlets - like time with friends, family, go to a (COVID safe) party, play some video games, listen to that new album, do some art, take a walk and breathe.
Talk to a Friend, a Family Member or an Advisor at University.
You might be surprised to find that there are so many people around you that will be willing to listen. If you feel like there is no one around you that you can trust to open up to, remember there are services available who you can trust such as the ones listed below.
Reality Check Yourself. In a moment of anxiety, you’ll find yourself full of worry about the future and what is to come next, so it’s important to try to ground yourself. Look around you and try to find 5 things that you can name. Then touch those 5 things. Focus on them and unpack them. Reality checking can help clarify your mind and bring you back to the present moment in order for you to try to understand how you are really feeling.
Put Your Feet on Natural Ground.
Yes, another strange one - but it flows on from what I mentioned earlier about re-grounding yourself. At the end of the day human beings are as natural as the earth in the ground, therefore it is so important to remind yourself that.
Our mind, body and our soul are thought of to be three separate entities, but they are all connected. Take your shoes and socks off and spend some time on the grass, in the sand at the beach, or in the water. It can be an hour or it can be a whole day - no matter what it is, just spend some time amongst natural elements and you will thank me.
Stop Saying ‘It Is What It Is’.
OK, I admit I’m no innocent party in the phrase, but at the end of the day it is what we make it; whether it is our actions or our reactions.
How does this relate to anxiety and university? Well, most of us only do this once so please, make the most of right now. The future will be there for you to worry about (if you need to) when you’re there.
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