How to Deal with Anxiety at University

Dec 11, 2020

University can be a new and exciting time in many young people’s lives due to the increased independence and the opportunities to make fond memories. But this is not always the case.

For some students, University can be extremely hard to acclimatise to which can result in their anxiety levels rising.

In this post, we outline some tips on how to deal with anxiety at university.


It is normal to experience homesickness when transitioning into University life. It is most likely the first occasion that you have stayed away from home for an extended period of time. 

You may miss your family, your friends or even just home comforts like your own bed. 

These are completely normal feelings to be experiencing and while your home environment can not be replaced, there are many things that you can do to enjoy your time at University and as a result hopefully ease your anxiety and homesickness. 

One thing that you can do is to join a club or society. This is a really good way to meet like-minded people who are probably in a similar situation to you. Doing this will allow you to form new relationships which will hopefully last throughout and after your time at University. There are so many clubs and societies to pick from at University so you will certainly be able to find something that appeals to you.

In addition to doing this, make sure that you still stay in contact with your family and friends from home. University does not last forever so you still want to make sure that you do not throw away any long term relationships over something as trivial as not picking up the phone.

There are so many ways to communicate nowadays with WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype, etc so it is easy to continue to see your family and friends from back home even if you are on the opposite sides of the country.

These steps should help to lessen the thoughts of anxiety and homesickness but if these feelings persist then it may be a good idea to speak to your University counselling service. This is because they may have a better idea of what is causing your anxiety and how to treat it.

Ruby Granger

Making New Friends

It is understandable that the prospect of making new friends at university is an extremely daunting one which may make you feel anxious.

You may be struggling to make that initial connection with others or you could be wondering why your coursemate that sat with you during your lecture yesterday is not doing so today.

These thoughts could cause you to feel anxious and depressed which may lead to you asking yourself questions such as Why am I not good enough? or Is there something wrong with me?

This should not be the case as there are many ways to make friends at University and of which we will detail the main ones below.

Ella May Houghton

Clubs and Societies

As mentioned in the homesickness section, joining a club or society is a great way to make friends whilst at University.

This is because everyone that has joined a club or society will have a shared interest meaning that there is already a talking point there. This will hopefully help you to make that initial connection which could lead you to find more things that you and the other students at the club or society have in common.



It is likely that the very first people that you will meet at University will be your flatmates.

This is also likely to be the case for them. This gives you the chance to instantly talk to and get to know some people that you will be spending a large proportion of your time with during your University life. If you find that you get on well then you have likely found a set of friends that you will have for the whole of your time at University.


Another place to find people to make friends with at University is on your course. With the exception of your flatmates, these will be the people that you spend the most time with during your University life.

You will get to know them by working with them during seminars and potentially on group tasks. It is extremely likely that you will naturally become very good friends with a few of your coursemates due to your shared interest in the topic that you both study.

The likelihood is that the majority of students at your University are in the same position as you and are also feeling a bit anxious. Any awkward situations like the ones mentioned at the start of this section are unlikely to be personal. 

Most friendships happen naturally so just give it a bit of time. As the year goes on, everyone will become more confident and relaxed which will lead you to find that forming friendships gets much easier.

If you would like to know more about looking after your mental health at University then please click on the link below which will take you to another of our fantastic posts.

Looking after your mental health at university

Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep can also be a big factor as to why you are feeling anxious at University.

Due to the fact that day to day life at University can involve too much drinking and staying up late in order to meet deadlines, it is no wonder that students suffer from a lack of sleep.

This in turn can cause you to feel stressed and anxious as you are not giving your body the rest it needs.

As you can probably imagine, it is pretty simple to correct this. Try to establish a regular sleep pattern that gives you the amount of rest that you need. In order to achieve this, you may need to cut down the amount of times a week that you go out drinking. 

It is also very important that you start your coursework earlier so your deadlines are not left to the last minute. This will mean that you will not have to stay up all night to finish them.

The most important thing is just to understand that your body needs sleep to function optimally so if you give it that then there is a good chance that your anxiety levels will decrease.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Exam Anxiety

Exam anxiety is another common mental health issue amongst University students. It is good to be a little bit anxious before an exam because that shows that you care but obviously you do not want to be at the point where your nerves are uncontrollable.

One, and probably the most obvious, tip to help reduce exam anxiety is to revise. When you revise, you will have a greater knowledge on the subject. This means that you can be more confident and less anxious about your ability to perform well in the exam.

When it gets to exam day remind yourself of how prepared you are and how much revision you have put in. This should help to ease your exam anxiety as you will know that you could not be better prepared.

One of the less obvious tips to help reduce exam anxiety is to eat well. Eating well will provide your brain (and body) with the vitamins and minerals that it needs to function at its optimum ability. Knowing that you have given your brain the ability to do this should provide you with increased confidence levels when heading into the exam.

If you would like to learn more about healthy foods for students during exam time then please click on the link below which will take you to another one of our great posts.

Read: Healthy food for students during exams

Summary: how to deal with anxiety at university

We hope that this post has helped you to understand some of the potential reasons why you are feeling anxious at University and the ways that you can overcome them.

If you feel that you may require more help with dealing with your anxiety then we have included two brilliant links below. The first will show you how the NHS can help in regards to counselling for student mental health problems.

The second is a fantastic blog post on Mind’s (a mental health charity) website that gives you a first-hand account of how a former University student coped with her anxiety at University.

Read more:

Counselling for student mental health problems

How I coped with anxiety at University | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems

Written by Jack Sheehan
Featured image photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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