“Overcoming Mental Health Issues At Uni”
A lot of the time when you suffer with anxiety it is really easy to get caught up in feeling sad, disappointed with yourself, and unmotivated. While I have definitely let these feelings get the best of me, I am trying this year to help myself and try to allow myself to enjoy life a bit more. To do this, I have been taking a number of steps, over the past month, to change and so I thought I’d share these with you.
First of all I’ve cut out a few things that were definitely causing me to have high anxiety levels. The first was smoking. Not only was it the healthier option for me, I did find that smoking was making me feel more on edge than normal. I’m not going to lie and say that I never smoke, because on a night out, I will occasionally have a cigarette or two, but apart from that I do not smoke anymore. This has also helped my bank account!
The second thing that I cut out is caffeine. When I was researching what I could do to help myself, I found out that because of the bursts of energy it gives you, it can cause you to feel nauseous and uneasy. Personally, I found this very easy to cut out as I’ve never been a coffee-addict. But it did mean making a few changes, for example in the morning if I’m feeling tired I drink a pint of cold water rather than relying on grabbing a coffee before my lectures. I’ve also cut out any caffeinated tea, so now I rely on herbal teas to warm me up. Fizzy drinks such as Coca Cola are off the table as well, but with so many other options, I haven’t found this transition very hard.
“ If I'm tired, I reach for cold water rather than coffee, it helps me feel more relaxed. ”
For me, the hardest thing to lower my intake of has been alcohol. Perhaps unsurprisingly, excessive drinking has been causing me to have panic attacks, and I often ended my nights out crying. Before moving to university, I hadn’t ever had this issue and so I was used to drinking regularly and heavily. Being a first year uni student and lowering your alcohol intake do not often go hand in hand. I haven’t stopped drinking completely, but I have cut down a huge amount. I only drink about 2-3 times a month recently, and on those occasions I find it difficult to find my limits because they are so different to what they used to be. This is definitely still a work in progress, but I have found that it decreases my anxiety a massive amount.
There are however things that I have added to my routine to try and help myself. The first thing I’ve done is join a gym. I know, very stereotypical joining a gym in January – but it did mean I got a good deal for joining one! I’ve joined EasyGym in Cardiff Capitol Centre with machines in the windows – I will be avoiding that area! The reason I’ve done this is because I think it will force me to spend less time in my room worrying, and give me something to do after my lectures. My short 9-hour week wasn’t filling up my time enough and so I found myself feeling very lonely in my tiny room. Also apparently exercise is supposed to increase happiness.
“ Joining a gym has forced me to leave my room more. ”
To fill even more of my spare time, I’ve joined this website as a contributor! I think that if I have something else to do in my free time it will stop me from feeling trapped in my room. This feeling often triggered panic attacks for me last term. Not only that but as a Journalism student it helps to build my portfolio. Getting a job to keep yourself busy is such a good way to help anxiety, especially writing. For me it gives your mind something else to think about and concentrate on.
I think that it is really important to speak to somebody if you are feeling down or anxious, and so I joined an online therapy service, funded by the NHS. It is called IESO Health. This is a confidential way for you to speak to a professional therapist about what is going on with you. I found the idea of sitting in front of a stranger and speaking about really emotional aspects of my life very daunting, and so this is a great alternative. Speaking to an objective person, outside of your personal life is a healthy way to try and process your own thoughts. I have written a whole article explaining the process of this service, and you can find it here if you want further information.
By limiting three negative things that I did and replacing them with more positive activities I feel like I can start to control any anxiety issues that were particularly bad last term. I hope they can also help you, or inspire you to try and better your own situations as well. Even if you don’t suffer with anxiety, these are all things that can help keep you happy while studying at university.
Written by Emma Videan, 10 months ago
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