Am I just stressed or is this anxiety?
Nobody said student life was going to be easy...
An average day at uni might include going to the gym, attending lectures, going to society socials, doing some coursework, spending time with your friends and having a strong social media presence. It can all be amazing fun but a little bit stressful too!
BUT when do you know it's more than stress and you might be experiencing anxiety?
Stress is a feeling that comes and goes. Say that you were stressed about a coursework deadline, as soon as you hand it in you'll feel a weight off your shoulders.
If you were experiencing anxiety then it would be completely different - you'd continue to feel anxious despite handing in your coursework and work yourself into a state about other issues beneath the surface. Anxiety is rarely logical and can hit whenever you least expect it.
Here are some signs you're experiencing anxiety:
- You randomly stress about things that happened weeks/months ago: Anxiety doesn't always allow you to 'let go' of things from the past no matter how hard you try. Small things like a confrontation with flatmates or an awkward conversation with your lecturer will constantly get to you no matter how long ago it was.
- You work yourself up whenever you make a mistake: You might worry that you've let yourself or other people down and constantly beat yourself up about small stuff that nobody would have even noticed.
- You find yourself over-apologising for tiny things: Most people wouldn't think twice about it but because you're dealing with anxiety, small issues feel huge and can take over your mind. You'll end up overthinking every little thing so much that it can ruin your day or even your week.
- You panic about the future on a regular basis: This isn't just thinking about what you'll do in summer or where you'll live next year but panicking that you're out of your depth or aren't doing as much/well as other people. Feeling anxious about this usually means that you can't calm down and put way too much pressure on yourself.
- You start worrying and questioning the day ahead as soon as you wake up: This isn't just on the morning on an exam or after an embarrassing night out, but just an average day. Anxiety is a constant cycle of worry and panic about anything from your future to bumping into your flatmate in the kitchen.
Anxiety can be a term that is used quite lightly but once people come to terms with the difference between that and stress, they can try to manage their daily routine.
It's Stress Awareness Month so we want to help you with all your university-related stress the best we can. If you're feeling overwhelmed, speak to your university student support services or contact Nightline or Samaritans.
Help is always available and we wish you the best of luck!
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