|Moving to a university
can be an anxious time, especially for freshmen. Leaving home, having new dorm responsibilities, facing a new town, tackling new classes--it all can add up. Moving anxieties will be magnified since this may be your first major move. How can you deal with anxiety after you move to university?
A note about anxiety
This guide will refer to anxiety as general feelings of unease, and not necessarily the chemical disorder that afflicts many people. In that case, real events can trigger anxious episodes, so some of these strategies may be helpful to combat them. However, clinical anxiety often occurs for no reason at all and can't be cured only by thinking through it. If normal behavioral strategies do not improve your feelings of anxiety, or if you are still anxious without knowing exactly why, consult a doctor.
Anxiety about living in your dorm
For freshmen, moving into a dorm at school is probably the first time you have ever had the responsibility of living away from your parents. You may be unsure that you can handle household responsibilities without them. You also could be worried about meeting and living with your roommate. Here are some tips to lessen these fears:
- Plan early and often. If you are feeling anxious about what you need day to day in your dorm, write out a list of things to do and buy. Working toward securing all the necessary furniture, food, and toiletries will alleviate the anxiety.
- Don't be afraid to ask your parents for advice. Usually your parents are just a quick phone call away, so don't hesitate to ask questions about how to maintain a decent living area.
- Talk to your roommate. Make sure you set some ground rules and follow them. Try to do fun things that you both enjoy to alleviate the stress of university life.
- Dorm living isn't exactly living on your own. You actually have access to a lot of help. You can divide responsibilities with roommates, and your parents/ and the school are probably taking care of rent and utilities for you. You may even have a meal plan to make getting food simpler.
- If things aren't going well, remember that a semester is only a few months long. You can go home for winter break, refresh, and try again next semester.
Anxiety about missing home
Another part of living away from home for the first time is missing your family, friends, and hometown. Missing loved ones is always going to happen, but sometimes the feelings can get distracting for new students.
- Keep in touch with loved ones back home. Texts, phone calls, video calls, and social media can help you feel connected to those you left at home. This can alleviate missing them, but shouldn't be overdone to the point where you're ignoring your new university life.
- Make new friends at school. Doing this could cause its own anxiety, but if you do it at your own pace, you'll be surprised how quickly you adapt to new people and friendships. You can start with your roommate and go from there. You will find you miss home less when you have new friends to keep you interested in your current life at university.
- Focus on the good things about being away from home. As a young adult, part of you must enjoy being out of your parent's watchful gaze. Celebrate your new freedom rather than be upset. Put your feet up, let things get a little messy, try living the way you want to live without having your parents there to hassle you.
- Keep in mind that you are headed back home in a short period of time. Between winter and summer breaks (assuming you don't take extra classes) you're home just as much as you are on campus in an average university year.
Anxiety about doing well academically
The main reason you moved to university is to get an education, so the pressure to perform in your classes can be immense. You may also be concerned with finding the right classes, scheduling them, and choosing a major. The anxiety surrounding the logistics of your education could be so great that you are frozen into inaction.
- Talk to your advisor. Universities provide academic advisors to help you determine what classes to take to reach your goals. If you are unsure of your goals as a freshman, that's okay, many schools don't let you declare a major right away, anyway. There are plenty of general requirements to tackle in your early semesters.
- Don't worry about graduating "on time." If something goes wrong when planning your major or if you fail a few classes, it may take longer than the standard four years to graduate. Most graduates don't do anything too spectacular the first few years out of university, anyway.
- Be diligent, study, and try to go to all of your classes. If you are worried about performing well in school, the best way to decrease anxiety is to actually get good grades. If you do slip up, remember that you always have time to take classes over.
Things are never as bad as you think and you are stronger and more adaptable than you realize. Sometimes the best way to deal with anxiety is to have faith in yourself. Once you do, you can enjoy your time at university.