Cracking the Code: Tips for Helping Friends Handle Uni Stress and Anxiety
University can feel overwhelming at times. There are deadlines, student accommodation worries, group projects and missing home. It’s easy to get carried away with it all, but it’s important to take time for one another to ease any stresses and support one another.
Create a safe space where your friend can talk to you about their anxiety. Whether they’re someone you know from your course or your room neighbour, everyone deserves someone who can listen to them without judgement. Talking to a friend about your worries can be the first stepping stone to talking to a dedicated mental health team and getting professional help and advice. If you’re worried that a friend is struggling to talk about their feelings then websites like Samaritans and Student Minds are great organisations to talk through your situation in privacy.
Offer practical advice while supporting your friend. Lending an ear to listen is great and now you need to act to start the helping process. Advice can include, taking regular breaks from studying, going for walks away from screens, and weekly exercise to work the body instead of the mind. Something that can help your friend take a first step to change is offering to do these activities with them, especially if they are nervous about doing things alone.
Let them know it’s okay to take their time. Not everyone’s healing journey is linear and it can be encouraging for someone to hear this if they feel they’re making little progress. Remind them everyone experiences anxiety differently and so everyone will heal differently. Reassure them that they are not alone, talk about your own involvement with stress and anxiety if you’re able to, it can be relieving to hear that they aren’t walking this path alone.
Offer emotional support. This can be anything from: reassurance, understanding, validation and compassion. Whether it be a warm hug, a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen to, your friend will appreciate you being there for them in any way you’re able to be.
Share resources with them. Anything you have found useful yourself, or research anxiety support groups nearby that they could attend. Universities often have trained professionals employed to help in these situations and encouraging your friend to contact them will help them too. Another place to look for helpful resources is the University website, which may have helpful snippets like online forums or useful apps.
Follow up with your friend. It may feel as though you’re nagging them but checking in once a week just to see how they’re coping is a great way to ensure they’re making progress and not bottling up any emotions. Maybe set out a day or a time when you meet up to chat about life and how or if there are ways to help one another out.
Most importantly, be aware that help is always out there. Contact your University, GP, the mental health team, your lecturer, and your supervisor. These are all people you can easily get in touch with and who can offer help wherever the support is needed.
Posted on June 16, 2023