Now that you’ve collected your A Levels results, it might be time to start thinking about the move to uni. This in itself can be exciting, daunting, stressful, or a mix of all of the above. Which is totally normal, yet for some reason the idea of moving to uni being any less than the most exciting and wonderful time of your life isn’t talked about much… if at all.
For me, the move to uni was exciting but scared the hell out of me- though I often chose not to admit it. I would wake up in the mornings, in the weeks leading up to my move, feeling sick and not wanting to eat anything. There were a few times I would find myself feeling panicky for no particular reason (though the reason was in fact that I was anxious to leave home and live with a group of strangers for a year). One day, a few weeks before I moved, I went out with a few friends to celebrate my birthday and felt so panicky and sick that I had to sit outside and chug a bottle of water to help me calm down. It helped, but I still felt this way a few times after this particular occasion.
What I want you to get from me explaining my experience is this… if you’re feeling this way then you’re not alone. At the time I felt as if I was the only person who felt this way about moving to uni. Especially since everybody else I’d spoken to about it only seemed to be excited- but of course, not everyone will be honest about feeling anxious even if they feel exactly the same way as you.
Whilst I’m not a therapist and I can’t treat your anxiety, I can share the things that helped me through the build up to uni in the hopes that they will help you too.
- Talk to your friends/family/someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Keeping your anxieties hidden and to yourself will only make things worse, so share your thoughts with someone you trust or someone you know who is also moving to uni. If you open up to someone going through the same experience as you, they might open up to you and let you know that they feel the same. That way, not only have you talked through your own feelings but you’ve helped somebody else talk through theirs. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing these thoughts with those close to you, look on your uni’s website for their student wellbeing page. You will be able to email someone who understands what you’re going through and will keep what you say completely confidential.
- Try journaling. Journaling is such a good way to map out your thoughts so that you can see them clearly- especially if you try free writing. Try to focus on the thoughts in your mind, rather than what’s happening around you (making sure you’re somewhere safe) and write freely without thinking too much or writing with any particular purpose. When you write like this, your writing is more honest. It’s more you. It will help you share your anxieties with yourself in a way you might not have thought was possible.
- Meditate. Meditation was something I never really considered practicing until I began to feel anxious before moving to uni. Whenever I began to feel panicky or anxious I would put on a guided meditation video on YouTube, or listen to a meditation session on HeadSpace (which is free to download on the App Store). This was super helpful to me and I still use this practice whenever I feel anxious about something. Meditation isn’t for everyone and if you’re a little sceptical about it, try a few different platforms/videos before you decide to give up.
- Ask yourself if what you’re worrying about is worth it. This may seem harsh, but hear me out. Write down the things that are worrying you. Try to avoid writing things like ‘moving into student accommodation’, or ‘starting a new course’ and be specific. Ask yourself what it is about these things that you’re worried about most. For example, ‘getting on with my flatmates’, or ‘the workload’. This will help you compartmentalise your anxieties and figure out ways to tackle them. Once you’ve written them down, write down the worst thing that can happen and what you can do to prevent this from happening or make the situation better. For, ‘getting on with flatmates’ the worst thing that may happen could be, ‘falling out over dirty dishes’ and a way you can combat this may be to make sure you clean your dishes after you’ve used them, and talk to your flatmates about cleaning theirs. Doing this can help you understand that in the big picture the things you’re worrying about might not be worth worrying about after all. (Please note that this obviously won’t work for every worry you have, but it’s a great way to tackle the smaller stuff.)
I hope that this post has helped you understand that you’re not alone, no matter how anxious you feel about moving to uni, and that there are always ways to combat these anxieties. Don’t let them defeat you. You are stronger than your anxieties and you needn’t let them ruin what can be an amazing and fun experience.
Happy studying and I hope you enjoy this new chapter of your life!