Navigating University with Anxiety
Uni is hard enough to cope with as is, but throw in some anxiety and it can feel absolutely impossible. Emily Wind shares some tips for getting through your degree (with as little breakdowns as possible).
I’m currently in my third and final year of university and trust me when I say, I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns. They’ve ranged from stress-filled all-nighters rushing to get assignments done, to crying my eyes out in front of a university counsellor because I wasn’t coping.
I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was a child and although I go through periods where it feels easier to manage, it always seems to reappear and taunt me with no warning at all. Throughout my degree, I’ve learnt a lot about navigating anxiety and while things may not be perfect, these tips I’ve picked up along the way have made life just that bit easier, maybe they will help you too.
Don’t expect too much of yourself
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Try not to put too many expectations on yourself, and make sure to celebrate the little wins along the way. Got out of bed for class when it seemed impossible? Made it through your presentation? Spoke to someone new in your tutorial? Celebrate it! If you only set unrealistic expectations for yourself, you’ll feel disappointed and inadequate when they’re not met. Know what you can and can’t handle, and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Speak to a counsellor
Don’t let stress and worry build up in your head and grow heavier on your shoulders – talk to someone about it. Get out of the mindset that ‘what I’m going through isn’t a big deal’, or ‘others have it worse than me’. Counsellors are there for a reason and will take what you’re going through seriously, often providing you with coping mechanisms. Learn more about UoN’s support services here.
Prioritise social events
I can’t tell you how many social events I’ve backed out of because ‘I had assignments’. I wasn’t coping with the stress so I would just stay home, missing out on a fun night and not even making much progress on my assignments. We all need a break here and there, and spending time with friends is the perfect way to give your mind a break from uni stress.
Email your teachers
I wish I could go back in time and tell my first-year self to email my teachers more often! They’re there to help you and are the perfect person to turn to when you’re struggling with an assignment or course content. Stop overthinking that email and just press send– no question is too embarrassing or annoying. If they don’t reply, reach out to a friend or wait to speak to your teacher in-person.
Cut back on units if need be
If your anxiety is becoming too hard to manage, it’s worth considering cutting back on how many units you’re doing per semester. This means fewer classes, fewer assignments and less stress. There’s no harm in extending your degree or picking up on classes during the Summer and Winter holidays. It’s also worth noting that cutting back to 30 units shouldn’t affect any Youth Allowance payments.
Find ways to manage procrastination
Procrastination is very common with anxiety, but not because of laziness. We tend to procrastinate because if we have to face the work/assignment/task, that also means facing the stress and worries that come along with it. It’s a horrible cycle and because we put things off until the last minute, we end up even more stressed than necessary. Do some research and find a way to curb procrastination that works for you. I’ve found these things helpful:
- Leaving the house to study
- Using the Forest app to limit time on my phone
- Deleting apps that are distracting me
- Working in intervals of about 45 minutes, taking short breaks in between
Make time for a hobby
Don’t let uni become your life – find a hobby that you can dedicate time to each week. Spending time doing something you love can lift your spirits, motivate you and just give you a well-deserved break from studying. It might even be worth looking into the clubs and societies on offer at uni and getting involved in a group activity.
If you or anyone you know are struggling contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.