When summer nears to an end, the dread of going back to university can hit students hard.
Uni is supposed to be one of the best times of your life, but after weeks of relaxing, seeing friends and spending time with family, it’s difficult for some people to get back in to the swing of education. Although feeling anxious is very normal, with over 30,000 students in the UK suffering from a diagnosable anxiety disorder, your friends could be worrying more than you realise.
What if I can’t keep up with the workload? Who will my new tutors be? Who will I be living with? How will I cope with money? In 2016 alone, almost a third of first year students dropped out, or debated dropping out, of higher education, but why?
University is a really exciting time—meeting new people, learning new things and creating unique memories that will last a lifetime should be high on the agenda. However, it can be difficult to enjoy yourself initially due to extra worries you might never have faced. So how can you make sure you enjoy the next year as much as possible?
Instead of worrying and stressing yourself out about going back to university, try some of these simple tips:
- Money - Budget yourself, and create a monthly money plan. Plan how much you need to spend on food, accommodation, social life, etc. This should help to reduce any anxiety you may feel in regards to money, as you already have a plan in place.
- Sleep - Aim for 7-8 hours. Too little or too much sleep can begin to negatively affect you and your studies. If you find you have trouble sleeping, rather than using medication, try simple techniques like deep muscle relaxation, meditation or even reading a good novel before bed. Keep bright phone and laptop screens to a minimum for 1 hour before going to sleep, and watch that caffeine intake. It might be tempting to use alcohol to sleep, but it will only give you very poor quality sleep and it will make your insomnia worse over time.
- Keep active - Take part in outside activities as often as you can. Exercising is good for not only your physical health but also your mental wellbeing. Keep active throughout summer or at least a week before returning for a more positive outlook.
- Focus on the positives - Think about the positives of returning, such as meeting new people and furthering your academic progress. Try to find 3 things you’d like to achieve during your first week back.
- Be prepared - If you prepare yourself you’ll be less likely to feel anxious on the day. Get your clothes ready the night before, plan your breakfast and have all your materials packed and ready to go. The fact that you know you’re ready and that you won’t have to be rushing around should put your mind at ease.
- Open up - 76% of students who feel distressed do not seek help or tell anyone about their problems. If you tell nobody then nobody can help you. Talk to your friends and family, and you should find your worries are halved.
- Talk to yourself as you would talk to a friend. Being self-critical won’t do anything good for your stress and anxiety about going back to uni. Tell yourself you can do it and that you have nothing to worry about. You've done things in the past you thought you couldn’t do, so why is this any different?
- Practice self-soothing techniques. Breathing exercises, deep muscle relaxation and meditation are great ways to de-stress, even on the go. ‘Feel Stress Free’ is an app by Thrive, created by psychiatrists and psychologists from the UK, it uses evidence-based techniques proven to help prevent, detect and even treat anxiety and depression. It’s completely confidential and you can use it whenever you feel things are getting on top for fast relief or to build your resilience over time. To download the app, visit www.feelstressfree.com.
Ultimately, yoir uni years should be some of the most exciting, rewarding, and memorable years of your life. Enjoy them and look after yourself!