Mental Health Awareness Week: how can I cope with anxiety as a student?

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Health Assured team

03 April 2023

Anxiety is a feeling everyone is familiar with. But some more so than others. While anxiety is a natural emotion we all experience from time to time, it also has the potential to compound, intensify, and start to impact daily life.

When the anxiety switch is on more than off, it can make everyday tasks difficult and develop into a mental health problem. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health issues in the UK, affecting around one in 20 people.  

If you’ve ever felt like anxiety is taking over, you’re not alone, that’s why it's been selected as the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

In honour of this important week, we’ll be sharing some student tips to help you support yourself or a friend with anxiety.


Notice the physical symptoms 

 Racing thoughts can make it hard to notice when you’re in the grips of anxiety. That’s why it can be helpful to identify the physical symptoms you feel when you’re anxious. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Chest pain
  • A fast or strong heartbeat
  • Feeling sick
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive sweating
  • Panic attacks

Everyone’s symptoms will be different. So try to notice what yours are and pay attention to them in the future when they arise. Noticing you’re experiencing anxiety is the first step to finding calm again.


Get moving 

Exercise is undoubtedly one of the best things you can do for your mental health. If you’ve been feeling anxious recently, try to ensure you're moving your body in some way every day. Exercise can take your mind off your worries and release anti-anxiety chemicals, helping you find a more peaceful emotional state. And regular exercise over time will build up resources that help you increase your tolerance for difficult emotions like anxiety.


The 5-4-3-2-1 trick

If you’ve ever been lost in a cycle of anxiety, you’ll know that it can sometimes feel impossible to escape from. You can’t think yourself out of this state. So bringing your attention to the present moment can be a huge help. Try this grounding technique and regain touch with the now.

Bring your attention to:

5 things you can see

4 things you can touch

3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell

1 thing you can taste


Focus on what you can control 

The main driver of anxiety is worry. If you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder of any kind, you’re likely in a cycle of worry. One way to step out of this cycle is by focusing on what you can control. By putting your attention on the things you can control, you can begin to settle back into the driver’s seat and take action towards where you want to be.


Support from Health Assured 

Remember if you have a Student Assistance Programme with Health Assured you can access support via the helpline at any time. Simply visit our portal to find the helpline number and other self-help tools you may find useful. 

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