There are five main areas to look at – Social, Physical, Cognitive, Emotional and Motivation.
– staying connected to others
- Stay in touch with friends and family – particularly in those early weeks of coming to university if you have left home to study.
- Make contact with other people in your course. Suggest possible activities such as having a coffee together or going for a walk at lunchtime and allow yourself to accept offers of activities that others suggest.
Physical Strategies – care for your body
- Get into a good sleep routine (go to bed & wake-up the same time every day)
- take regular exercise
- Eat a good diet
- Attend to illness as soon as you notice yourself not feeling well
- Avoid activities that you know are problematic or that could become a problem such as gambling, excessive use of alcohol, using drugs and letting the internet or computer games steal time from you.
Emotional Strategies – coping so you can think clearly
- Learn breathing exercises, meditation or being in the present (mindfulness). Nearly all our anxiety is about something in the past or future.
- Use distractions such as going for a walk, listening to music or ‘channel’ your feelings if you are angry about something (for e.g. go for a run or sing loudly or try writing your feelings down).
Cognitive or Thinking Strategies – remember our thoughts and emotions are linked
- Remind yourself of your skills and abilities.
- Avoid catastrophic thinking e.g. instead of “it’s a disaster that I got that mark”, think “it is unfortunate that I got that mark, what can I do about it?” – problem-solve instead.
- Avoid absolute thinking e.g. instead of thinking “I always mess things up” think “I didn’t do so well that time, what can I do to improve”.
- Avoid comparing yourself with others. You usually end up feeling bad about yourself. Instead focus on what you can do instead.
Motivation Strategies to continue studying
- Visualise success. Imagine yourself getting your degree, being presented with your course certificate, or going out to celebrate – find an image that shows your success and keep that image in your minds-eye or find an object to represent success.
- Remind yourself of why you are here and what you hoped for when you started your course.
- Set small, specific, realistic goals – make a schedule and stick to it (this avoids procrastination and/or perfectionism).
- Keep good work practices – balance work with fun.
- Talk to others about what you are doing.
- Ask for help from your teachers, or the student counselling service at your school, college or university if need be.