Don’t suffer in silence: attacking anxiety

The start of a new year can be a stressful time. After a long, lazy summer of holidaying, beach trips, festivals, back-to-back DVD box sets and, for the more hardworking of us, a summer job or internship, being thrown back into a life of early mornings, assessed work, essay deadlines, presentations and, perhaps, annoying flatmates can be a nasty shock to the system.

For some Freshers, beginning their university life at Warwick may come as one of the biggest challenges they have ever faced. The pressures can seem endless: leaving old friends and family at home to be forced into crowded, strange halls, having to nervously introduce themselves to a kitchen full of unfamiliar faces, being pressurised to play ‘Ring of Fire’ and get ridiculously drunk to gain social acceptance, learning how to cook more than beans on toast, waking up on time to get to lectures in the mornings without their mum as an alarm clock, not to mention dealing with uni work independently.

Whilst some people seem to sail through life without a care in the world, juggling wild socialising with regular sports and societies and still managing to achieve perfect grades, many of us experience worries about the day-to-day challenges we face, especially at such a demanding university. A little worrying is, after all, perfectly natural and actually serves to improve our performance, as adrenaline increases alertness and allows us to perform to the best of our abilities when it really matters.

However, if you are finding your worrying hard to control, and are feeling anxious everyday, a little healthy worrying may have become an anxiety disorder. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects one in 20 of us and is most common in people in their 20s, with more females suffering than males. As well as uncontrollable anxiety, symptoms include concentration problems, difficulty sleeping, feeing irritable, overeating or not eating enough, all of which cause intense distress.

Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as Social Phobia) also affects many young people and is characterised by an intense fear of public situations, ranging from eating in front of others to public speaking. Like GAD, Social Anxiety is highly upsetting and causes the individual to feel isolated and alone.

The good news is that anxiety can be treated by a variety of techniques, in order to prevent it destroying your social and academic life. Self-help methods can be used effectively. Taking regular exercise helps to release tension, combats stress and increases serotonin levels in the brain, inducing a feeling of wellbeing. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, pilates and simple breathing exercises can also help unwind and banish nervous feelings. A healthy diet with low consumption of caffeine (which increases the heart rate and can trigger panic attacks) should be followed, as this eases anxiety. High amounts of alcohol and smoking should be strictly avoided. Self-help books focusing on the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you understand and treat your own anxiety, and can be found in the university library or most bookshops.

However, if you feel as though you need some outside support there are many options on campus. The University Mental Health Co-ordinators can provide support, discuss strategies for combating mental health issues and give access to other services within the University and local mental health services. They can be contacted via email at and are located in University House. The University Counselling Service offers professional therapeutic counselling and can be reached via email at or phone: 024 7652 3761. If you would rather speak to students, Nightline is a confidential and non-judgemental peer support service, found in between Old Rootes and New Rootes and contacted by calling 02476 417 668 or by emailing Alternatively, GPs at the Health Centre can give advice, referrals to CBT clinics and, if necessary, prescribe anti-anxiety medication.

So if you’re not one of life’s lucky worry-free people and find that your anxiety is taking over your life, don’t suffer in silence: sharing a problem with a friend or counsellor or doctor can really help. Remember, you are not alone!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.