lifestyle, Mental Health

Freshers In The Light of Mental Health Issues

By Lauren Chancellor

As the term draws to an end many might blissfully think back to their more frivolous uni escapades, otherwise known as Freshers Week. Though, whilst some already count down to their next chance at socially acceptable binge drinking, the Freshers period can be a mine field for those suffering with mental health issues.

Lauren Chancellor bravely and intimately breaks down her troublesome battle with anxiety disorder, giving a rare insight into how Freshers might be not so fresh.

I’m a full time student, diagnosed with GAD, Social Phobia and Panic Dissorder of 4 years.

Freshers week is advertised to students as one of the best week at university. Filled with the promise of meeting new people, drinking games and of course a dreaded hangover. But what happens when you’re riddled with anxiety, to the point where leaving your room simply isn’t an option?

I fell at the first hurdle – meeting new people. The first day I arrived at my university campus I was greeted with open arms by my fellow housemates, only for me to lock myself in my room. I cried for what felt like days. The thought of putting myself out there for everyone to formulate opinions on simply horrified me. I was so scared of being judged by my peers it felt easier to just avoid them.

All the time, I’m sat there thinking, ‘the longer I stay in here, the harder it’s going to be when I leave’ and ‘I look so rude for not interacting with the people in my flat, what if they hate me? What if they think I’m being rude? Am I going to have to explain to them that I suffer with anxiety? If I do that will they think I’m weird? The cycle continues… Most of my days were spent longing to be back home with my friends and family. I wanted to be around people who I knew, who I could relate to and who I felt safe around; staring at the same 4 walls didn’t help.

Isolated, I began to to over-think everything. The few people that I had met, I’d created a thousand situations in my head in which I’d already messed up the ‘friendship’, or they were only talking to me because they had nobody else to hang out with, which put even more strain on my already difficult situation.

Anxiety around meeting new people is something that I tried so hard to make unnoticeable, to which I think I succeeded – nobody came out and asked me directly, ‘do you have anxiety?’.

Then came the evenings, I was expected to ‘dance my sorrows away’. Not the case. Instead, I opted for standing on the side lines, holding peoples drink making awkward dad dance moves. Not my finest hour. I had so many people encouraging me on to join in on the drinking games, hoping that it would bring me out of my shell a little. however unlike in the case of a ‘non-mentally-ill-person’ alcohol doesn’t bring out my confidence, it makes me even more aware of my own anxiety. The sweats and shakes increase, the sickness would become definite and my nervous stutter would get a show of it’s own. This is something I didn’t want to explain to my peers, resulting in me looking like a miserable bitch.

I had never felt more alone with my anxiety. I was surrounded by people having a great time. People were dancing, singing, sharing stories and drinking together – things I knew I was capable of doing, but my anxiety wouldn’t let me. It felt like being strapped to a chair whilst looking at an open door.

Freshers is presented in a light that offers opportunity and an exclusive chance to get yourself on the ladder to successful friendships. It provides chances to get involved with societies and other groups around universities. However, they don’t show you what happens to those students who get left behind.

At every university, there are undoubtable students whose anxiety is just too much to deal with the social pressure and expectations of Freshers week. And we’re still to see a change in the way the first weeks at university is dealt with. Nobody is saying there needs to me an ‘anxiety society’, or an introverts corner, but universities all over the country need to put more effort into the students who simply get left behind.

For any students who feel they have symptoms of anxiety I would recommend speaking to your GP about your options. Also, keeping your university up to date is key to making progression with your anxiety. Faculty cannot help you if you don’t reach out. Anxiety isn’t something you should be ashamed of, it’s a natural reaction to fear. It’s the way you process these feelings that create a certain outcome. There are many different ways you can treat your anxiety. Medication and different types of therapy (usually CBT) are the two main ways for treating anxiety, but there are also free workbooks available online.

Helpful links

Food For Thought, lifestyle, Mental Health

Six Ways To Tackle Stress In The Exam Period

By Lauren Chancellor

Lauren takes the pen to give us all a well-needed advice (or six) on how to deal with the turmoil that is exam stress.

Another term, another set of exams. Your assessment period is a time of stress and anxiety, something nearly every student dreads. With most of your free time spent cramming in extra revision and worrying about your end result, it can be as exhausting as it’s unpleasant.

Here are some simple tips to help you unwind and de-stress from the pressures of exams:

Positive vibes – Maintaining a positive outlook can stop you from losing your head whilst waiting for your results. Don’t waste your remaining days of freedom worrying, think positive thoughts and more important, spread positivity. Remember it is not just you going through the stress of exams, so being a Negative Nelly around other people is probably going to bring them down too.

Hard earned rest – For now, it’s time to say goodbye to the revision time table, the highlighters can go back in the draw and you can return your library books. Now it’s time to calm down and find your inner Zen. Take a nap, take two naps, wake up at midday instead of 9am – you do you.

Socialise – The chances are, you haven’t seen the social hours of daylight in long time. However, now your exams are over, and it’s time to venture into the real world, once again. Sharing downtime with your friends is a great way to relax after the exam period: watching movies, playing sports, going shopping etc.

Accept what’s done is done – When you leave that exam hall the power is out of your hands, and the sooner you accept that the better. What’s done is done, and what will be will be. Allowing yourself to fall into turmoil about what you could have done differently is pointless and can very quickly become exhausting. To avoid this, refrain from talking to people from your class about the exam and just focus on getting your results.

Have a back-up plan – on the off chance things really didn’t go to plan, having a plan of action is a great way to relieve anxiety and to help you continue moving forward with your studies. Make yourself familiar with re-sit dates and where you need to be.

Celebrate – whether it’s with your classmates, housemates or your family – you’ve worked hard over the past month and your hard work should be rewarded. Whether you go out for a celebratory meal or a few drinks in town, get out and let your hair down!

School and university is stressful for the most students, even those who don’t have exams. It’s important to remember that your body needs time to relax and rest. Be aware that your fellow peers may be feeling the pressures from their studies, and be mindful.


Dealing with Exam Season

It’s that time of year again, the dreaded exam season. Whethers it’s GCSE’s or ALevels exam season is hurrendous, so let’s face it we could all do with little things to make our lives easier.

Take time for yourself as hard as it can be make sure you’re taking time away from revision, socialise, if you look after your brain your brain will look after you.

Plan a revision strategy when I was doing my GCSE’s I set up a revision timetable to enable me to manage my time effectively, scheduling breaks at intervals to avoid boredom will increase your overall productivity.

Eat Breakfast one you won’t be distracted by a rumbling tummy but you’ll feel overall better in yourself.

Revising in groups is really useful, you can help eachother fill in gaps within your memory of what you’ve learnt, and overall just have a  much better time.

They’re not the end of the world, there’s always alternatives, if an exam doesn’t go great that’s okay, there are always ways to redeem yourself. Nothing is ever definitive, your whole future doesn’t rest on a bit of paper.

And last of all, good luck.


Music Is The Medicine

Music plays a huge role in my life, as it does in millions of other people’s across the world. There’s all different genres and different types of music, yet we’re all connected by it.I think that’s pretty special, the fact people can be so different but be brought together through their mutual love of music. Everyone will have a different relationship with a song or an artist and everyone can connect with songs and appreciate music for what it is, everyone has favourite songs and favourite lyrics that get imprinted in their brain or they want to write all over their bodies. It’s amazing how simply listening to a song by your favourite artist can turn your mood around or spark a memory from a gig or event. It manages to bring so many people together, I’ve met so many amazing people through music and I love that, I love the fact it can unite people. As cliché as it may sound, I honestly don’t think I’d be here without it, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing better than being squished, armed glued to your sides, sweaty and in the middle of a venue next to complete strangers, with lights beaming over a crowd and onto a stage, where your favourite band is performing. Standing side by side with thousands of other fans, all in the exact same position as you, mesmerised and singing their heart out as their voice begins to go and their back aches like a bitch. Not to mention the crowd surfer who’s just kicked you in the face. But, it’s worth all that to be able to scream lyrics back and have a night to remember forever.

Gigs make you forget about how shitty things in your life are going at the moment or deadlines that you’re behind on. For them few hours, you’re transported to another place where nothing on the outside of those venue walls matters, the bad things can’t get through them. It’s a place to let loose, scream, jump and have a brilliant time. It’s simply all about good music that hits you right in the heart when you realise that this is actually real, that this moment is actually happening and you have seen your favourite acts performing live, hearing your favourite songs and wishing you could replay these moments forever.

People will always say “Why do you need to go see the same band again?” and I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to do that? If I love a band, love their music and respect them as musicians, of course I’m going to want to continue to see their tours numerous times, because for that one moment you don’t have to be sad anymore, you don’t have to think about not wanting to wake up the next morning, all that matters is those performers on that stage. And I think that’s beautiful. Music really is one of the best medicines out there.