The irrational feels you experience at uni when you have anxiety

March 14, 2017
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Anxiety can be debilitating in everyday life, but in the context of uni life it can seem so much worse. When you’re dealing with social situations everyday with people you don’t know, alongside a huge (and often hard) workload, it makes the uni experience a stressful one for those living with anxiety. If you’re a student coping with anxiety, these irrational feels might sound familiar.

Feeling too scared to participate

It’s not uncommon for people with anxiety to experience a social pobia, which makes you embarrassed to talk in front of people you don’t know. According to BeyondBlue, this social phobia is often “…an intense fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly.”

Student Emily Wilson* has found her anxiety has impacted her ability to participate at uni.

“Most of my classes have class participation, but I’m willing to get a fail for that part of my grade if it means I don’t have to speak up.

“The worst is having to do class presentations when I have all eyes on me and I can’t think in proper sentences,” says Emily.

Living with anxiety can make you afraid to speak up when there’s a fear of sounding stupid of being judged. This is all too real at uni when you’re surrounded by a classroom of smart peers. Something that might seem simple to others, like answering a question from a teacher, is actually a real accomplishment for many of those those living with anxiety.

It’s not a normal level of stress, it’s a total feeling of doom that you’re going to fail which leads to a panics attack.

Freaking out in social situations

While uni is the prime time to meet like-minded friends, it’s not always easy for those with anxiety. While some people might perceive it as being shy, it’s not that simple.

“I dread going to parties where I don’t know anyone and I have to make small talk,” says Emily.

Anxiety can impede your ability to make friends and live your everyday life when it stops you from interacting and getting involved in social situations. It can make you feel isolated, but according to psychologist Renee Mill, isolating yourself will only make anxiety worse.

“Social connections are linked to mental health, [so] make sure you socialise and interact with others every day.”

When your anxiety stops you from doing all the things that are the quintessential uni experience, it can make you feel like you’re missing out. It might stop you from taking opportunities you really want to do like going on exchange or making friends.

Having so much work to do that you feel paralysed

The overwhelming feeling of having so much uni work to do can actually have a paralysing effect. It’s a feeling where you’re unable to clear your head and get things done – which of course, makes the overwhelming feeling even worse.

“It’s not a normal level of stress, it’s a total feeling of doom that you’re going to fail which leads to a panics attack,” says Emily.

If you find yourself in this position, Renee suggests stepping away from the assignments.

“Do not study 24/7. Have breaks where you engage different parts of your brain.”

She suggests exercising, getting a proper eight hours sleep, meditating and staying away from drugs that increase your heart rate, like nicotine, coffee, ecstasy and steroids.

*Names changed for privacy reasons

Image: Look Catalog, Flickr Creative Commons license