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Academic Wellbeing

Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time.  Most people can relate to feeling tense, uncertain and, perhaps, fearful at the thought of sitting an exam or attending an interview.   

Short-term anxiety can be useful.  Feeling nervous before an exam can make you feel more alert and improve your performance. However, if the feelings of anxiety overwhelm you and do not decrease then they can impact on your daily life. 

If you have a diagnosis, the Student Wellbeing Centre can set up a support plan for you to help you with your studies.  

 

Or even if you don't have a formal diagnosis, please get in touch with the Wellbeing Centre who can support and advise you further.   

Addressing your anxiety may make you feel more anxious at first.  Even thinking about anxiety can make it worse.  But taking some simple steps can help your anxiety reduce. 

Take Control 

The key to success is to think positively; take control of your stress and anxiety by learning effective techniques to combat it.   There is useful, practical guidance about this at Getselfhelp.co.uk. 

Look at the problem differently 

Find a new way to look at the problem. There is always more than one way of seeing things, which means that we might be able to act more effectively by looking at the problem differently.  The key is to recognise our thoughts and the way that they have affected our mood and confidence. 

Try to identify the negative thoughts that are triggering the anxiety and challenge them. 

Finding a new viewpoint will give you more options and keep your thoughts in perspective. For example: 

  • How would I think if I felt calmer? Or differently? 

  • What evidence is there that I'm...useless, hopeless, etc. 

  • What is the worst that could happen? 

  • What can I do if it happens? 

Relaxation 

Learning relaxation techniques can help you with the mental and physical feelings of fear.  It can help just to drop your shoulders and breathe deeply.  Or imagine yourself in a relaxing place. 

You could also try yoga, meditation, massage or making use of relaxation apps and other resources. Mind provides a lot of good, practical ideas in their section on relaxation. 

Exercise 

Taking more exercise can help improve sleep and reduce anxiety and tension. Exercise uses up the adrenalin and other hormones that are produced under stress, allowing muscles to relax. Endorphins released during exercise can also enhance your mood.  There’s a lot of helpful material at Mind, and the Derby Union of Students gives details of available student sports and activities. 

If you’re not usually very active, you could take a look at Derby’s MOVEMORE programme to get started. This website provides personalised, step-by-step online support to help you become more active, as well as losing weight or stopping smoking if either of those are issues for you. 

Healthy eating 

Avoid stimulants such as coffee, nicotine, alcohol and foods with high sugar and fat content; processed sugar is not a natural food and should be kept to a minimum; energy drinks include large amount of caffeine and processed sugar and should be avoided.  There is a Wellbeing page on food and mood that might also be of interest. 

Assertiveness 

Learning how to manage difficult situations can make you feel more confident and, therefore, more relaxed.  Mind Tools provides a lot of targeted advice on assertiveness. 

Pretend! Act as if you're not feeling self-conscious. If you make a mistake, use it to help in the future. Don't let it drag you down. 

Practice  

The more you do the more you'll feel like doing and the better you're likely to be.  

Next time, pigeon-hole other anxieties 

This involves consciously organising your mind to temporarily put on one side all the other issues that concern you. Tell yourself that you'll address these issues in due course, but for now you want to focus on the task ahead and give yourself time to prepare 

If you are worried about your levels of anxiety or feel they are having a significant impact on your ability to manage, then you should make an appointment to see your GP. 

Longer term anxiety can often have an underlying cause that can be discussed.   

For more information, please see the Student Wellbeing pages here.