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Managing Anxiety When Starting University

September is here again, which means the start of a new academic year and a new term at university.

Starting university can bring with it all sorts of emotions – you might be moving away from home for the first time, and you’re likely to meet lots of new people and have lots of new experiences in a short space of time.

It’s normal to feel a bit apprehensive about these things, so here’s a short rundown of things you can do to take care of yourself and ease these anxieties.

Meeting new people and making friends

It’s normal to worry about making new friends when starting university, but it’s good to know that everyone is in the same boat as you.

If you’re living in halls of residence, you can usually join a Facebook group for your flat, so that you can chat to your flatmates online before you meet them. This might help to ease your anxieties, as you can get to know them a little before meeting them in person.

This might sound trivial, but a good thing to pack if you’re moving out is a door stop – make sure the door to your room is open while you unpack. This way you’re likely to meet more people as it will make you look friendly and open to a chat with people in your accommodation.

It can also be a good idea to join some student societies – there’s usually a society for anything you can think of, ranging from baking society to Taylor Swift society! Whatever you’re into, you’re bound to find like-minded people if you a join a society for something you’re interested in – your Students Union website will have a full list of what’s on offer, and you’ll be able to sign up to things on the day at a Freshers Fair.

Dealing with homesickness

Moving away from home and starting university is a big change, so it’s natural to feel homesick. Remember that the majority of people at your university have also moved away from home, so don’t be afraid to talk about it – it’s good to know you’re not alone in how you’re feeling.

Living away from home can take a bit of getting used to – you might have a new routine of doing your own food shop, cooking and laundry. It can be useful to plan out your week to get you into a routine of when you’ll do these things. You could ask your flatmates to come with you to do the weekly food shop, so you can do a big shop together to avoid everyone coming back with the same things! This is also a good way of getting to know your flatmates in the first few weeks.

If you’re homesick, it can help to plan when you’re going to go home for the weekend, and then gradually spacing out these visits as you become more settled at university.

If you’re still feeling homesick or unsettled after a few months, that’s okay too. It’s a big change that can take a while to get used to. Don’t worry if you think other people are settling in quicker than you – we’re all different, so go at your own pace, and reach out to friends or family if you’re struggling.

Worries about your studies

University work is a step up from college or A Levels, so don’t be hard on yourself if you find things difficult. As with most things at university, most people will be in the same boat as you, so don’t think that you’re the only one finding things hard.

As mentioned above, you might find it helpful to plan out your week to include when you’ll do your seminar readings, coursework or exam prep. You could also ask some of the people on your course if they want to work together in the common room or library – another great way of making new friends.

If you’re really struggling with some of your work, reach out to your lecturers or seminar leaders in person after class or over email – they’re there to help, and a quick 10 minutes going over something could make all the difference.

If you’re struggling at university

If you’re finding things hard for whatever reason, talk to someone, whether this be a friend, family member, or anyone you feel comfortable talking to. A problem shared can be a problem halved.

Your university will have free wellbeing support – this information should be available on their website.

We offer free NHS Talking Therapies in the Kent and Medway area where you can be open and honest in a safe, non-judgemental space. If you’re stressed, worried, anxious, or just finding things hard and not feeling like yourself, we’re here to listen.

For more information on what we offer, head to  “How Can We Help You?” or “Getting Support.”

Managing anxiety when starting university

Published date:

18th September 2023

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