Sunday 5 November 2017

Freshers' Flu and Feeling Blue

Mary explores the realisation that you're struggling and accepting help during the early months of university. 

- Mary Litchfield

The first few weeks of university are so busy and hectic that you can have hardly any time to think about how you’re feeling and coping with such an enormous change; it can take time to adjust to getting into the routine of lectures and coursework. Sometimes suppressed worries can surface after a few weeks or months.

Freshers’ and neglecting yourself

Starting your first year of university opens up a whole new world of opportunity, from making tonnes of new friends, joining lots of exciting societies and clubs, to just going out and having a laugh. And, of course, go to every single one of your 9 am lectures. However, the beginning of university isn’t always sunshine and roses and it can be difficult to fully take in your new situation or surroundings. When freshers’ ends and all the excitement that goes with it, sometimes it can be tough. It can feel like you’re alone and fending for yourself, and potentially can lead to you feeling down about the university experience.

It can feel so busy that you don’t have time to address any emotions that arise, and so it's easy to deny yourself a little necessary me-time just to ponder your own thoughts and see how you’re coping emotionally and physically. Looking after your mental health as well as your physical health, especially when freshers’ flu makes an appearance, is important for thriving at university.

Things not going to plan

When you arrive at university there are so many ideas and preconceptions about student life that are going through your mind. Things will likely not be exactly how you had expected, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; surprises can be exciting. However, when things aren’t going to plan it’s easy to feel anxious or worried, especially once you’re fending for yourself without the immediate support of your family.

Additionally, worries and negative feelings that were in the back of your mind can creep up on you beyond your initial anxieties when beginning university. You may be in a situation where you aren’t getting on with your flatmates, or your course isn’t what you expected, or perhaps you’re missing family and friends back at home. Navigating a new stage of your life, on a new campus, and in a new city can be confusing!

But it is important to remember that lots of people experience these anxieties, but that every individual also adjusts to university differently and no one’s situation is the same. It is perfectly normal for things not to have gone how you expected. If you’re facing problems then it can help to share them – you may be surprised at how many of your peers may share these worries.

Mental health matters

If you’ve struggled with mental health difficulties or significant worries before coming to university it can make the process of going away a lot more difficult.

Struggling during the beginning of university is normal for every student embarking on a new stage of life but it can be particularly difficult, especially if you’ve struggled with mental health difficulties or significant worries before coming to university. You’re in a new place and want a fresh start so it can be easy to deny to yourself that you might need a little help or it can also be overwhelming trying to approach the university and ask for help. With so much going on, it can be even more of a struggle to get into the swing of university life. Bumps in the road can feed on difficulties or problems you’re having or have had previously. Even whilst being surrounded by hundreds of people you can feel alone.

There can be a pressure to “have fun” and neglecting your feelings or not getting support can be easier than these facing problems. But this can just make it worse and it’s usually best to tackle things earlier.

University is a whirlwind of chaos, excitement and opportunity. You can have the best and worst days. It’s not always plain sailing, particularly during your first couple of weeks or months. It can be easy to let problems linger and get worse, which isn’t what you need whilst battling off fresher’s flu. Whatever you’re struggling with, never be afraid to seek out help.

Hi, I’m Mary. I recently graduated from The University of Nottingham. During my time there I was part of Nottingham’s Student Minds committee; it was here that I found out about Student Minds’ blog. Mental health is still something very stigmatised and not always talked about. So, I thought I’d try my hand at starting conversations about it and if they help even one person, it’s a step in the right direction.

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