How Can I Deal With Social Anxiety At University?
Dealing with social anxiety whilst at university is a more common issue than you might think, and most students will go through the academic years suffering in silence. You’re always told about just how brilliant university life is, from all the excessive partying to the friends you’ll make for life. But, for someone with a social anxiety disorder, the attractiveness of choosing to put yourself in this environment will most likely dwindle over time.
Social Anxiety At University
According to the NHS, social anxiety is ‘a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations. Symptoms of this mental health condition can include a number of things, such as excessive worrying, overthinking small social or performance situations and avoiding certain environments where you will be surrounded by lots of company.
During university, there’s lots of pressure from outside and those close to you to have the best years of your life. Nonetheless, they fail to understand just how difficult it is to thrive from this environment if you’re suffering with social anxiety. The lectures in big theatre halls, making friends in a new city or even the dreaded group projects that take place in almost every subject…sounds more like a nightmare – right?
Except, we know that your anxiety disorders do not define you, and you should not let it get in the way of your hopes and dreams (if university is the path you want to take). That’s why we’re here to help. Keep reading this blog and find out our top tips for how to deal with social anxiety at university.
1. Sought Advice From GP Or Health Worker
One of the first things, and most important out of all the ideas we’re going to be chatting about today is getting professional help. Everyone goes through different experiences and it’s crucial you seek treatment which is personal to your situation.
We would advise you to do this before you head to university, if you’re going to be starting your first year. If you’re already stuck into college life, make sure to get checked up quickly once you notice your anxiety symptoms starting to affect your everyday life.
Asking for help can be difficult, but GP’s are trained in all areas of mental health and they can give you advice which a blog on a website might not be able to do.
2. Keep A Journal And Track Your Progress
Journals are a brilliant way to record how you’re feeling and your progress over the coming weeks as you train to better yourself and your anxiety.
Think about investing in a wellness journal online, or looking up journaling anxiety prompts on Google. This can act as a stress-management tool and get you thinking about your thoughts and feelings in a practical light.
Wellness journals especially are fab at focusing on positive thoughts, rather than the negative, which leads perfectly onto our next point…
3. Try Turn Negative Thoughts Into Positive Thoughts
Negative thoughts for university students who suffer with social anxiety can have a lasting effect, and it’s important to not let them get in the way.
If you’re worried about situations which bring you out of your comfort zone, we urge you to focus on turning these negative thoughts into positive ones.
To explain a little further, we’re going to give a scenario and try to change it up to be seen in a more positive light…
Picture this – you’ve applied online for a placement year, sent through your CV and cover letter about why you’re the perfect fit for the role. They absolutely love it and invite you down for an interview. Nope, unfortunately unlike other job interviews you’ve heard about, it isn’t on Teams and in the comfort of your own home, it’s actually face to face in their office space.
What do you do?
Firstly, we know your mind is probably racing about the situation and how you’re going to cope. But it’s important to not let this negative mindset take centre stage, it’s your turn to control your thoughts and turn them into positives.
We want you to try and recognise the negative thoughts in your mind and work out why they’re bothering you. Spend a bit of time self-reflecting and noting down what you’re worried about. These are some of the ideas we came up with…
- Not being good enough for the role – Imposter Syndrome
- Nervous about interviewing and presenting in front of their team
- Who will you be up against? How do you stand out of the crowd?
There’s probably lots more you might go through, but the examples above are probably the main 3.
Now’s the time to focus on how these can actually be positively viewed – check out below how their meanings have changed…
- You are good enough, they wouldn’t have asked you to come for an interview if they didn’t think you were the perfect fit on paper for the role.
- They know you’re going to be nervous, every single person will be nervous as you have to put yourself in an unfamiliar situation – who really likes that? Knowing this, practising endlessly beforehand will help you prepare and feel confident. Try doing so in front of a mirror, recording yourself on your phone or even speaking in front of close friends who you feel comfortable with.
- Think of it as a blessing if you don’t get the job from the interview, because there’s something out there more suited to you and it’s just another phone call away. Dwelling on competition will only increase your anxiety and make you feel like you’re not good enough, which is not the case.
Shifting your focus can help ease any worries and tensions you may be having and help you manage your own thoughts.
4. Try Meeting Friends Online First To Make Situations Easier
University presents unique challenges and making friends is one of the many you’re going to face. Throughout your childhood, you’ll have made a bunch of friends through school or even from outside hobbies, but coming to university is a whole other ball game. You’re basically thrown in the deep end and expected to make friends naturally…which can be super difficult if you suffer with intense anxiety.
Universities will do everything they can to help you find the perfect bunch of pals, from organising freshers events, to ice breakers on courses. But, it can still be tough if you don’t thrive from situations such as these.
As a college student, we suggest trying to meet friends online to help make the transition a little easier. Before joining a course, you might be thrown into a Facebook group with others starting at the same time as you, or there may even be forums online for you to socialise with others on your course.
There’s even apps, such as Bumble Friends, which can help you swipe through and find your bestie in close proximity to you. So, if you’re moving away from home, you don’t have to interact face-to-face straight away, you can take some time online to get to know people and ease yourself into it.
In spite of all this, we want to remind you that never fully trust anyone online and make sure you know it’s 100% them before meeting up. Unfortunately there’s a few individuals who capitalise off the internet and might not be who they say they are, so just an extra warning to be conscious of this every time you chat to someone.
5. Join A Society
Dealing with physical symptoms of social anxiety can impact your everyday life, such as making friends, and this is a crucial part of uni life which you shouldn’t be missing out on.
We know that every single person has a hobby, or something they enjoy doing aside from uni work. Whether it be a popular sport, or something a little more relaxing such as knitting or blogging, there’s something for everyone out there and finding others who enjoy the same thing as you can help ease your social anxiety.
Interacting and chatting with college students who you can relate to makes it easier to become friends. Sparking conversation shouldn’t be difficult and it gives you the opportunity to dissociate yourself from the stress of uni work for a little bit.
6. Communicate With Friends And Family
Missing your family or friends from home? Why not give them a quick 15 minute call or facetime when you have some spare time? They’re guaranteed to love hearing your voice!
It’s super important to stay in close contact with loved ones whilst you’re away during university. Let them know how you’re feeling, whether you’ve had a good week, or felt it dragged a little. They will help you feel connected and less isolated, especially if you’re struggling.
The power of social media and apps gives you freedoms during university which you shouldn’t take for granted – make the most of it!
7. Choose A Student Accommodation With A Community Feel
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Student Accommodation is a huge one, as it’s your home away from home during the university year. Making sure you choose the right one for you is a crucial step in your move, so why settle for something average if you could have an experience unlike any other?
Within our properties at Homes For Students, our core focus is to create a safe and secure community between residents. We have friendly on-site teams who’re up for chatting throughout the day. They’re here to make you feel welcome and part of a lifestyle which is inclusive of everyone.
From week to week, they’ll put on a range of events to help bring students together. Examples of some of our faves include the delicious pizza parties, games nights and even breakfast mornings to fuel your day!
We have student accommodation across the UK, offering a range of apartments to suit your needs. Whether you’re after a studio apartment with exceptional amenities, or fancy stepping out of your comfort zone and choosing a shared flat, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here. No matter your preference, we’ve got you covered.
How Do I Survive University With A Social Anxiety Disorder?
The situation is always worse in your head than it ever is in person. However, coming to terms with this is tough and it’ll be a journey for sure. Keep positive and listen to the steps we’ve noted above to help you get through. You’re going to survive if you work hard to fight your social anxiety! You can do it, we know it.
We hope you’ve found our blog useful. Got any questions? Let us know on our socials and we’d be more than happy to help.