Do you often have an overwhelming sense of unease such as worry or fear?
Mind defines anxiety as ‘a natural human response when we perceive that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.’ Everyone feels anxious or scared sometimes and what makes people feel anxious is personal to you. For example, some people feel anxious when meeting new people, delivering a presentation or when taking an exam.
If your anxiety is affecting your daily life and is causing you to avoid certain situations, it might be helpful to recognise it and seek support. General symptoms of anxiety can include being unable to sleep, experiencing loss of appetite, feeling tearful and unable to properly enjoy your leisure time. You may be feeling very tense or nervous and unable to relax or concentrate. You may find yourself worrying about the past or future and struggling to form or maintain relationships. A list of the thoughts, feelings and behaviours associated with anxiety can be found at Anxiety UK.
Some people experience panic attacks which can include symptoms such as an irregular or more noticeable heartbeat, light-headedness, dizziness, headaches and chest pain, sweating and shortness of breath. During a panic attack you may feel that you are losing control or having a heart attack. Panic attacks can be frightening but they are not dangerous and should not harm you.
How can you overcome these feelings?
Identifying triggers and recognising unhelpful habits
Many people find that keeping an anxiety diary helps them, noting down when and why you feel anxious. Reflecting on when you feel anxious can be helpful in identifying what is triggering these feelings.
Smoking, drinking too much coffee and alcohol can all worsen anxiety and panic. Unhelpful thinking patterns such as catastrophising can fuel anxiety. Can you replace these thoughts with a calmer, more helpful narrative? Can you replace unhelpful habits with good self-care, such as getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthily and taking regular exercise?
Seek GP help
If your feelings of anxiety and panic are frequent and severe, getting the input of a GP can help. They can help you access talking therapies and medication, where appropriate.
Mindfulness and self-care
For some people, practicing mindfulness and breathing exercises helps to focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the past or future. This is something you can do anywhere if you start feeling anxious whether it’s on the bus, before delivering a presentation or during a lecture. Further tips on this and how to get started are in the resources at the end of this section. See our relaxation pages for more information.
To support positive mental health good self-care is important and this is no less important for managing anxiety. See our self-care pages for more information.
Talk to someone
Talking to someone you trust like a friend or a family member about how you are feeling can really help to alleviate anxiety. Often people can feel that they are the only person feeling this way, but talking to people can help you to realise that is often not the case. Many students feel anxious about things like exams and presentations for example. If you don’t feel that you can talk to a friend, see the section below which lists helplines you can contact.
Take positive action
List the things that you need to do that you are making you anxious and formulate a realistic action plan with step by step activities which will help you to resolve the issue. This may be a group of upcoming essay deadlines or issues with your flatmates. Breaking the issue down and working to resolve it makes you feel more in control of the issue and less overwhelmed.
Access support at LJMU
LJMU have a team of Wellbeing Advisors who can help and support you and provide a listening ear. LJMU also have specialist support teams such as Mental Health Advisers and Counsellors and your Wellbeing Advisor can, where appropriate, make a referral.
If you have a diagnosis of anxiety, we recommend you get in touch with our Disability Team and Study Guidance team who can put support in place for you.
We run a weekly virtual ‘Managing Anxiety’ workshop for students which you can book onto here.
Enrol on the SAW Canvas course for workshops on a range of wellbeing topics.
LJMU have partnered with Silvercloud (an online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy tool) to provide support to you around issues such as depression, anxiety, stress and body image.
We have also partnered with mental fitness app Fika to offer support during COVID-19.
There are lots of sources of support and inspiration for overcoming anxiety out there, check out these we have hand picked:
- Anxiety UK are a charity set up to help people experiencing and living with anxiety
- Talk Liverpool is a free NHS service offering psychological therapies to adults in Liverpool who are feeling anxious or depressed
- Mind is a mental health charity which raises awareness and provides support
- Merseycare self-help guides
- Every Mind Matters
- Student Minds
- CCI Anxiety
- Get self help
If you need support specific to the current COVID-19 health crisis, please visit student support.