Community Focus On.... Student life Starting university and moving away from home is a really exciting prospect but it can be very nerve racking because, for most of us, it’s the first time being away from our parents and the comfort of family life. There’s so much to feel anxious about when moving to Uni, whether it be money, making friends, the work-load, living with strangers or homesickness, it can be very overwhelming. In addition to that, many students have spent quite a bit of the last couple of years at home due to the pandemic. Being at home has been isolating and many of us have got out of the habit of being around lots of people. it's useful to remember that we’re bound to feel more stressed when we're faced with so many changes and this is a normal part of being a student and starting university. Even though university is an amazing experience, we often hear that it will be the ‘best years of your life’ and for many of us that just isn’t true. But that’s ok, if we find our university experience challenging that doesn’t mean we’ve failed or that there's something ‘wrong’ with us. A large part of feeling anxious at Uni comes from the fact that we no longer have the support network of family and friends close-by that we’ve had our entire lives; this can lead to us feeling helpless and isolated. However, we're not helpless - there are lots ways to combat feelings of anxiousness and loneliness at university and you will certainly not be the only one feeling a little out of your depth, as this clip indicates: Accommodation Sometimes people are lucky and get along with their flat-mates straight away, yet it’s also pretty common for people in student accommodation to be placed in housing with people they don’t have a lot in common with … but all hope is not lost. There are so many other ways to make friends at Uni, there are sports teams, societies, social events and even opportunities in lectures and seminars to meet new people who we have something in common with. So if you’re a Harry Potter buff, or you love baking, or you’re simply silly about football… there’s sure to be someone else there who shares your passion. And if you can’t find the society you’re searching for, at most universities, all you need is 20 signatures to start your own! Struggling? The local Sheffield universities both have many in-house services readily available to students who are experiencing mental health issues. Sheffield University has a bespoke GP’s office which is tailored to deal especially with students’ physical and mental wellbeing and Sheffield Hallam has written its own ‘Students’ 5 Ways to Wellbeing’ (a guide designed to introduce routine into the chaos of student life). If you don’t feel confident talking to somebody about how you’re feeling face-to-face, both universities also offer a service called ‘The Big White Wall’ which is an anonymous and confidential online forum where you can receive 24/7 support. Money As mentioned previously, both money and time management can cause great stress to students who are living independently for the first time in their lives. A great way to get on top of this is to organise and ration your time and budget your money, so that you can keep things in order and establish a schedule. Although it’s a busy time of life, some students actually prefer to get a part-time job on the side of their studies, so they can divide their time between university and work. Students who work and find it helpful, say that along with the extra cash, establishing a structure helps them feel settled and rooted. Other students prefer to have scheduled down-time after a long day of studying and find the thought of working overwhelming, or too much to balance. Either approach is fine, but it is often better to plan your day ahead of time, so that you don’t have long periods of doing nothing, as this can often affect mood. Check out the links below and test-run the templates of how you can manage you time and money while at Uni! https://www.ucas.com/finance/managing-money/student-budgeting-tips https://www.ucas.com/budget-calculator https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=gtt9sX4WTYY Exam Stress None of us can be perfect all of the time, so just aim to do your best. If you have a question about the exam, rather than mulling it over and over in your own head, talk to your tutor or classmates. Don't keep things bottled up. Confiding in someone is a great way to alleviate stress and worry. Try to keep things in perspective. Challenge your negative thoughts about yourself with positive ones. Plan your study time with study sessions about 50 minutes long separated by 5 – 10 minute breaks. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Tiredness increases anxiety. Give coffee and other stimulants a miss. A bit of moderate exercise will boost your energy, clear your mind, reduce feelings of stress and help you sleep better. Get accurate information from your school about the exam date, time and location as well as what you can/should take into the exam, so you feel prepared. Rest well the night before. Arrive at the exam location early. Volunteering Students are encouraged to volunteer - it's a great way of getting to know your new city or town and it looks really good on your CV! There are lots of opportunities to get involved in events and activities - Sheffield Mind has worked with students from both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam and the students' enthusiasm and creativity have proved invaluable. There are often opportunities to get involved at Sheffield Mind - from fundraising and events to reception and admin, all Sheffield Mind volunteering opportunities are advertised on the website here so if anything takes your fancy, feel free to get in touch.