Tips For Managing Anxiety At University

This year has been stressful and many of us have found it difficult with the changes it has made to our daily lives. If you have felt this way you are not alone, as over 74% of adults experienced stress and felt they were unable to cope during 2020. As a student, living away from home can increase stress and anxiety levels due to workload and feeling homesick. It can sometimes be hard to know who you can talk to and be aware of what support is available to you. We have created some tips that can try to help manage your anxiety levels and also who you can talk to when it gets too difficult to manage.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about taking an exam, visiting the doctor, or job interview. If anxiety gets out of control it can stop a person from doing everyday activities and can lead them to feeling upset and frustrated.

What Are The Symptoms?

Anxiety affects everyone differently, but here are some of the common symptoms:

  • Panic attacks
  • Finding it difficult to sleep
  • Feeling irritated
  • Excessive worrying
  • Stomach issues, including constipation or diarrhea
  • Increased heavy sweating
  • Rapid heart beat or chest pains
  • Muscle and joint pains

For those with anxiety disorders, it’s important to look into different activities you can do to help manage or reduce anxiety in the long term. But everyone can benefit from other ways to reduce stress and anxiety with lifestyle changes such as exercise, meditation limiting caffeine, and taking time for yourself. Try out these tips to help relax your mind and gain control of those thoughts and worries.

Tips To Help You Manage Your Anxiety

1. Focus your mind on something else

Sometimes it can be helpful to redirect your thoughts and focus on something else other than your anxiety. If you feel like your anxiety is getting too much, it’s a good idea to reach out to your friends and family to organise a fun activity. You can also plan a self-care activity that you can do to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings. These can include:

  • Walking or other forms of exercise
  • Listen to music
  • Read a book or watch a funny movie
  • Clean or organise your house
  • Yoga or meditation
  • Try some creative activities, including colouring, writing or painting.

2. Try Some Breathing Exercises

Calming breathing exercises for stress, anxiety and panic attacks only takes a few minutes and can be done anywhere. You will feel the most benefits from these exercises if you introduce them as part of your daily routine. Check out this breathing exercise from the NHS to help with anxiety:

  • Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
  • Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
  • Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful.
  • Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.

Other apps that can be used to coach you through your breathing exercises include Headspace and Calm. These are both available for Android and iOS devices.

3. Start A Thoughts Journal

Starting a journal is highly recommended to help manage stress and anxiety. You can add journaling to your life whether it’s daily, weekly, or on a when-needed basis for when anxiety gets to be too much. To help you get started, grab a piece of paper or a notebook and write down the answers to these questions:

  • What happened and when?
  • What thoughts were running through my head?
  • What emotions am I feeling right now? On a scale of 1 – 10 how intense are they?
  • What different ways can you view what happened?
  • What emotions am I feeling right now? On a scale of 1 – 10 how intense are they?

4. Limit Your Caffeine Intake

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, but did you know it can be a stimulant for anxiety? Drinking coffee can sometimes bring on symptoms of anxiety, such as racing heartbeat and trembling, or it can make your current symptoms a lot worse. If you feel like coffee has this affect on you why not try some caffeine free alternatives!

5. Put Yourself First

Remember that it’s ok to say no! Sometimes we might not feel up to taking part in an activity and need  some time to ourselves. It’s important to listen to your body when you feel burnt out and relax.

What Else Can You Do?

If you feel like your anxiety is still intense after trying these exercises it’s a good idea to reach out to your support system or to a medical professional. There is a range of support that you can call to chat and seek advice on what steps you should take next:

1. Contact Your Student’s Union

Your student’s union is there to offer support and advice on a wide variety of issues. The union can help you to organise an appointment with guidance counsellors who will talk through any worries that you may have and what you can do to overcome them.

2. Visit Your GP

If you’re concerned about your anxiety, make an appointment with your local GP. If you’re not yet registered, you can use the NHS directory to find your nearest surgery. At your appointment, your GP will ask how you are feeling, point you towards relevant services and resources, and they may also prescribe medication.

3. Ring A Helpline

It’s important to remember that you are never alone. There will always be someone at the other end of the phone waiting to talk to you, no matter what time of day or night.

  • Nightline – A lot of universities have a nightline, which usually runs from around 8pm–8am during term time. They offer a confidential and anonymous service, where they listen and offer advice, and allow you to make your own decisions on what to do next. Visit the Nightline website to search the phone number for your university.
  • Mind – For information about the mental health support in your local area, you can call Mind’s Infoline on 0300 123 3393 from 9am–6pm every weekday (except bank holiday).
  • No More Panic – This site provides valuable information for sufferers and carers of people with Panic, Anxiety, Phobias and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD). Its purpose is to provide members with support, advice and a chance to meet like-minded people and make friends along the way.
  • The Samaritans – Their support line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 116 123. If you prefer to write down your feelings, or you’re worried about being overheard, you can send an email
  • YoungMinds – They are a charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people up to aged 25. The YoungMinds crisis messenger service provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need support, you can text YM to 85258.
Scroll to Top