Tips to help ride the storm & ease stress

Why being a student can make you prone to anxiety

  • ​​being away from home and its routines, people and support may lead to homesickness. 
  • fitting in – if you feel ‘different’ due to your drinking habits, sexual orientation or family background it can leave you feeling isolated.
  • student lifestyles of excessive alcohol or drug taking, risky sexual behaviour, junk food and inconsistent sleep patterns.
  • perfectionism and procrastination – rewriting your essay 5 times or putting off doing your coursework until the night before it’s due. 
  • comparing yourself to others – are you trying to determine your worth by comparing brains or looks? 
  • pressure to get a good degree – on top of the need to get good grades throughout your school career, pressure may now increase due to the job market.​
  • ‘uni age crisis?’ – the time from teens to mid thirties involves major quarter age transitions such as adolescence to becoming an adult, deciding on a career path, relationships, finding out about yourself.

A certain amount of stress or anxiety in our lives is essential, whether it’s to run for the bus, think clearly in an exam or swim faster in a race.  It helps us to act quickly when we need to. 

It’s sometimes called the fight, flight or freeze response. Our hearts beat faster, and breathing and blood pressure increase so we are ready for action.

Most of us have fear or worry in our lives, especially at times of uncertainty, or when faced with new experiences.  Some people seem to thrive on high pressure situations such as extreme sports (adrenalin junkies).  However some individuals worry more than others and have real difficulties coping or adapting to challenges or uncertainty.

Problems occur when the state of anxiety carries on whether or not the cause is clear. This ongoing state of anxiety can sometimes make a person imagine things are worse than they are. Individual differences may be due to personality, early life experiences or events like divorce or bereavement.

Stress and anxiety are very common and 1 in 10 people will see their GP feeling tense or anxious over a year.

Symptoms of anxiety 

  • feeling sick or needing the toilet
  • ‘jelly legs’
  • feeling hot and sweaty
  • tense or trembling muscles
  • headaches
  • palpitations or tightness in the chest
  • hyperventilation or over-breathing
  • feeling irritable or aggressive
  • feeling that you need to escape
  • thinking that you are having a heart attack/are about to die

If things do get too much and you need help, don’t keep it a secret

Make an appointment with your GP who will be able look at treatment options and referral to specialist services if appropriate. 

Contact your personal tutor about difficulties and to make arrangements about coursework or exams (or someone from the Counselling Service can do this for you).

Useful websites

Anxiety UK's website for more information. It is the national charity for those affected by anxiety disorders.

MIND's website also has useful pages.

Visit the 
Mental Health Foundation's webpages too.

​​​Stress & Anxiety

Getting help

  • ​​go easy on yourself – you’re allowed to have ‘aargh’ moments.  Talk to others and they’re probably feeling exactly the same.  If funds allow plan a short visit home and keep in touch with loved ones.
  • get organised – do all the boring stuff like using a calendar, diary or organiser to schedule deadlines, work, rest and play.
  • physical activity such as a walk or swim can help you to calm down and think clearly.  It also boosts feel good chemicals in the brain, creating a sense of wellbeing.
  • look after your self – eat regularly and try to have plenty of fruit and veg; get an early night now and again.
  • rewards can help you stay motivated.  Treat yourself to a magazine or a night out with mates.
  • punishments – don’t be too hard on yourself.  Try to turn around unhelpful thinking habits such as listing the positives of your day.
  • alcohol and drugs  may offer a temporary escape but can make problems worse.  Visit the Last Orders website for more information on alcohol  or Chill Out website for more on drugs
  • talk it over - choose companions who help you see a more realistic view of your worries and fears.
  • have a laugh and try something new - societies or sports clubs are great for finding people like you.
  • try something different - the Be Mindful website  allows you to experience mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) designed for people experiencing stress and anxiety.  This has robust and compelling evidence.  It also includes an online stress test.

Getting help