Emotional Wellbeing


Mandy Kloppers

What to do if you are not coping at university

Going to university can be exciting and scary at the same time. The prospect of university offers freedom, independence, and choices but it also brings with pressure and anxiety. It might be the biggest upheaval you have had to cope with so far and it’s very normal to experience highs and lows at university.

There is social pressure to fit in and make friends and there’s a huge workload that can seem daunting, even to the most motivated of students. Some students feel homesick and others suffer from social anxiety. Not to mention, sleeping difficulties, work stress and burnout, anxiety over managing the workload and passing successfully. There is so much to consider so it’s no wonder that many students struggle and feel they are not coping at university.

If you are struggling at university, you are not alone and you might be wondering what you can do to cope.

Create a schedule

Creating a schedule is one way for you to feel on top of the immense amount of work you need to do. When you see it all diarised and neatly in a schedule it helps to remind you of what is required and when. This adds a sense of control to your days and weeks ahead. If you are not coping at university it may due to the fact that you feel overwhelmed by the workload and worry whether you will be able to understand it, process it, and submit your work on time. A schedule is a great visual way to keep yourself organised.

Reach out to your tutors

University tutors are there to help and a good tutor will want you to achieve and manage to the best of your ability. If you are not coping at university, talking to a tutor is an effective way of problem-solving and finding productive ways for you to manage your workload. Tutors are well versed in the amount of stress and anxiety university students go through, especially in their first year of university when everything is so new and unfamiliar.

Connect with other students

When you connect with others sharing similar experiences it can be a huge psychological boost. Knowing that it isn’t just you that is not coping at university and that others are feeling lost and stressed helps you to normalise what you are going through and can be a great way to cope with university life. The Covid pandemic has limited the amount of contact university students have with one another but it is still possible to connect online and in university forums.

Practise self-care

Self-care means that you get enough sleep, know your triggers and set reasonable boundaries for yourself. Say “no” and be assertive if you feel others are placing unnecessary pressure on you. If you are able to, do regular exercise as this helps you to sleep well and also reduces anxiety and stress. Go for regular walks if you do not have access to a gym. Exercise is a free and easily accessible strategy when you feel you are not coping at university.
You could even consider mindfulness or meditation as a way to reset your mind and gain a sense of calm in moments of tension and anxiety. When you practice self-care you will be less likely to burnout.

Take regular breaks when studying

Take regular breaks. You must take a 10-15 minute break every 45 minutes. Your brain can only concentrate for 45 minutes. If you find yourself unable to meet the impossibly high standards you’ve set, try not to be harsh on yourself. Your sense of self-worth shouldn’t be defined by your academic success. It may help to jot down some manageable short-term goals so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Don’t be so hard on yourself

Perfectionism is a growing trend and it’s the most counterproductive attitude you can have. If you are not coping at university, ask yourself if part of the problem is down to your tendency to put too much pressure on yourself? We live in a competitive society and it’s getting worse due to social media as it encourages social comparison. Let go of that – tune it out. Focus back on you and what you really want from your studies. You can only do your best and you don’t need to make yourself feel anxious by comparing yourself negatively to others. Don’t do it – instead, treat yourself with self-compassion. How would you treat someone you loved? You would encourage and support them, not criticise them or tell them they aren’t good enough. You deserve the same and you get more out of yourself if you do this. Self-criticism is demoralising and truly unhelpful.

If you feel you are not coping with university, therapy might be what you need. Talking to a therapist is great because you can chat to someone who will keep your discussions confidential, they won’t judge you and they will help you to find strategies to manage your life at university. Get in touch today if you need therapy: mandyjkloppers@live.co.uk

Mandy X


Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash Unchanged: Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash