Mental Health Awareness Week: Top Tips for Anxiety

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week! This theme this year is anxiety, so one of our Student Mental Health Champions has shared her tips for coping with anxiety at university.

For more information about the week as well as activities running at NTU, further links to support and resources click here

Written by Sophie Bryce, a final year Psychology BSc (Hons) NTU Student

Anxiety can be really difficult and can be particularly hard to manage during university, especially around exam season.

I want to share some top tips with you today, that can help you to manage your anxiety, and hopefully help your experience at university.

  1. Exercise: Exercise can be a real mood booster and help to improve anxiety. I know it often may be the last thing we feel like doing when we’re anxious, but it can really help to calm our bodies down. It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous, even going for a walk can help with how we are feeling. Keep an eye out for Wellbeing Walks which are organised by the Healthy NTU team, this can be a great way to get outside, get some exercise and connect with others.
  • Food: Trying to maintain a healthy diet can really influence our mood and energy, including anxiety. Also trying to eat something before exams. I know that sometimes we don’t feel like eating when we are anxious, but even if it’s just something little it can help give us the energy we need.
  • Sleep: As a university student I don’t really prioritise sleep, however it’s important to get enough sleep so that we have the energy to manage anxiety and are well rested.
  • Talking to others: Whether that’s friends, family or other adults, talking to others can really help us to process anxious thoughts or to take our minds off how we are feeling. If you feel like anxiety is preventing you from doing everyday activities, seeing your GP may be helpful.
  • Creative: Doing creative activities can also give our minds a rest and can be replenishing. This could be doing something creative that you enjoy, such as colouring, painting or cooking, or you could try something new. You could also check out some of the wellbeing activities, led by the student mental health champions at NTU, such as rock painting or friendship bracelet making. 
  • NTU Student Support Services: Another thing that may help your anxiety is making use of some of the support services offered by NTU. One of these is an online self-help tool called SilverCloud. It’s definitely worth checking out as it gives you free access to online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), including programmes designed to help with anxiety. Also, if you struggle with a mental health condition then you may be able to get an access statement to support your studies at NTU. There are also many other available sources of support at NTU including mentoring support, so do check out the student support services available.
  • Breathing and counting techniques: Something else that may help to calm your anxiety is breathing and counting techniques.

For example, the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique:

Think of 5 things you can see around you, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.

Or you could try the 4-7-8 breathing technique:

Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and then exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds.

It’s important to not only follow these top tips throughout the year, but to also make sure you are doing these things throughout exam season. It can be easy to let exams take over and forget about looking after yourself, which can often lead to more anxiety. Try to follow these tips to help manage anxiety.

And finally, please remember that it is okay struggle, but it is important to do something about it. Remember to be kind to yourself. A quote I love from Charlie Mackesy, that I hope encourages you today is this: “Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you. It can tell you you’re no good, that it’s all hopeless. But remember this: you are loved, and important and you bring to this world things no one else can. So hold on.”

For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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