Studying at university can be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of your life. But for some, the pressures of moving to a new area, academic workloads and forming new friendships can be stressful and overwhelming. Here’s a little guide to coping with the stresses of university life and where you can access help and support if you’re struggling. Remember, help is always out there and you’re never alone.
Stress and making decisions
You may find your university workload and newfound independence comes as a shock. That’s totally normal. Try and listen to your feelings and not judge yourself, and know that there are people available to listen if you need to get something off your chest. You may also feel confused or unsure about making decisions if you are doing this for the first time independently. Try and reach out to those close to you, whether it be friends, your personal tutor or housemates, and take your time to think about what is best for you.
Money can be one of the most difficult things to manage if this is your first time being financially independent - so take the time to sit down and budget. Try not to feel pressured to spend money on things you don’t want to - you are in control and should do what you think is best. There are many apps that can help manage your money or see what you spend most of it on. There is also support in place if you are struggling with money, like the Halls Fee Bursary for students from low income families and the Student Hardship Fund.
Meeting new people and building relationships
An easy way to make friends is by joining a society or sports team to meet people with similar interests. Or why not be open minded and venture outside of your comfort zone? There are so many different ideas, cultures, and ways of life and socialising and we have them all here for you to get involved in.
Being independent and comfortable on your own
If you’re not used to spending time on your own, you might feel a bit lonely, which is totally normal. Try to connect with your flatmates or coursemates and don’t be shy about sharing how you’re feeling - chances are they’re in the same boat. Still, spending time alone is an important way of reflecting on your day or week, analysing patterns or your habits, making future plans and figuring out what is important for you - so try to find a balance of social and independent life that works for you.
Abusive relationships and getting help
It’s common for people to learn about abusive relationships or behavior but not be able to recognise it when it’s happening in their own lives. It’s important to familiarise yourself with what abuse looks like no matter what, and keep an eye out for those around you who may need help. Abusive relationships are described as ‘when one partner controls the other partner with violence, intimidation, and/or threats. At first, the signs may be subtle and you may hope that the relationship will change and improve over time, but abusive relationships tend to worsen and become more violent or controlling over time.’
If you or someone you know is or may be in an abusive relationship, there is help available. You can talk to your GP or reach out to the wellbeing team on campus who can go through options with you. You can also contact this 24 hour national domestic violence helpline, which is completely confidential and safe. You can also find more information on the relationship website Relate.
Positive and negative mental health habits
There are lots of ways to try and support a healthy body and mind, such as healthy eating, exercise, meditation or yoga, setting goals for yourself, and staying organised, to name a few. If you’re really struggling and feel like you need help, try to educate yourself on mental health conditions that require professional care. Websites such as Students Against Depression are good places to learn more and get advice if you or someone you know might be depressed.
In addition to the websites and charities we have included above, here’s a list of other services and different options and ways to access help and support.
Women’s Aid - help for domestic abuse
Galop - an LGBT+ and anti violence charity providing support for hate crimes, domestic abuse, sexual violence, and more.
NAPAC - supporting recovery from child abuse for survivors, friends, and family.
The Survivors Trust - support, advice and information relating to sexual assault, abuse, and rape.
Samaritans - a listening service for you to talk about anything you are going through via phone, email, text, or post.
The Mix - a support service for young people to talk about anything from mental health and money to finding a job and drug use.
Victim Support - a charity helping people affected by crime or traumatic events.
Disabled Students Helpline - a helpline for disabled students studying in England