How To Maintain Good Mental Health If You Are A Fresher?
If you are a fresher, you have probably read many articles and watched videos on how great it could be to start a new chapter of your life. So you might already picture the life in the university. You leave your home maybe for the first time for a long time, pack your belongings, sit in the car and unpack them in your new home that will be your place of living for the next few years. You will meet a bunch of new people and maybe make new good friends. Anyway, you will be constantly surrounded by young people that are just like you in the new surroundings. Of course, there will be a lot of studying and discoveries. You will be free to arrange your time as you wish to paint it to education and fun as well.
But there is also a possibility that you will not have the expected fun. The truth is that often the reality does not meet our expectations. Young students, instead of spending time on parties with friends, sometimes may isolate themselves from others and spending free time missing home. They also may suffer from the fact that the educational process is not as fascinating as they expected.
We do not want to scare you with this article. Young people after leaving home and starting hard studying want to make these years full of discoveries, impressions, and memories. But the reality is that often it takes time to adjust to the new environment and find your place in the new place and circumstances. It may require a few months or more. Or the case may be the opposite. The start of your new life will be great and careless, but with November comes you may face a serious crisis connected with numerous tasks, strict deadlines etc. And this is the moment many students get shocked because of the drastic difference between the start and the actual educational process.
But we want to reassure you that having problems on the starting stages of your university life is completely normal. And you are not the first who face this and you will be able to overcome everything as well. We have prepared some tips for you to help with this challenge.
You are not alone!
Many freshers suffer from the disappointing reality when they got surrounded by people and things that are not as funny and inspiring as they considered from the various sources of information. They have planned to enjoy the best years of their life but in fact, they do not have any pleasure at all. They may feel like being betrayed, especially when they see other students enjoy the same things.
If you have found yourself in a similar situation, the first thing for you to keep in mind – you are not alone in your feelings. You are surrounded by various events and different people. So it is okay if someone’s attitude will differ from yours. You may be focused on people who genuinely enjoy their lives in the new environment, but there are also students who suffer from anxiety and experience the same emotional problems as you do. Such conditions may be caused by various aspects starting with relationships with your roommate and tuning your social life and ending with trying to keep up with curriculum and other educational challenges. The thing is there are many freshers who may feel lonely and left out so you are not alone in this struggle.
It is a very big thing for young people to leave their homes and start living close to complete strangers without any support or communication they got used to in their hometown. This experience may have a completely unpredictable effect on the human mind. Sometimes students, who were not socially activities in their previous lives, change drastically. They estimate the new surroundings as the opportunity to create a new image and to reinvent their personality. So they even might turn into extroverts. But for students, who have had plenty of friends in their hometown and their reputation made people wanting to become friends and spend time together, building new relationships may be hard. They got used to attention and communication that have built for years. But in the new environment, they do not experience the required level of attention. They might feel lost realizing they need to start everything over.
In the first weeks at university, you will meet plenty of new people, maybe more than you have ever met for such a short period of time. This might be one of the most socially intense periods of your life. Many students will agree with this statement. You need to realize that if your feelings of loneliness and disorientation start turning into more serious mental conditions without getting better, you need to look for help. But it is fine if you feel uncomfortable for a while during the adaptation time. This is a normal reaction to the discovery that some aspect of student life is more difficult in reality than you expected. Do not push yourself to have fun if you do not feel like a party. Constant pressure that you need to have fun and keep up with the educational process will lead only to the growing anxiety. Give yourself a break.
Look for support from your friend to feel more comfortable
If you have friends from school or at least of the same age as yours, you may feel like calling them for support. But hearing they have so much fun in the new environment can make you feel even lonelier. However, they likely face similar difficulties with assimilating in the new university environment as well. But you can mistakenly assume that they are too busy to communicate with you. Eventually, you can lose touch with them as it is natural that you both will have to spend time on building new connections and overcoming new challenges. But if your friendship is strong enough, even without constant communication you can support each other in the troubles of university life.
Do not hesitate to call them. Share your feelings with a close person. Ask them whether they have faced the same issues and how they have dealt with them. You may receive useful guidelines that will help you in your struggle. Also knowing that your friend also tries to overcome new environment challenges may help you to fight loneliness as you will have a person who understands you completely in your struggle. You may be afraid to admit that student times have started less colorful. But sharing your feelings with a close friend will help you to free your soul.
If your friends are lucky enough to have a fascinating college life, you may visit them to seek for inspiration. This may give you positive energy to walk through hard times having a vision of the future. You will have more confidence that everything will be much better with time. This attitude will lower the pressure of the situation and you will definitely feel better.
There are many events in the university during the first weeks of the year that are aimed at providing freshers with an opportunity to get to know each other better and make new friends. This can be a great opportunity to expand your communication circle and find people with similar interests. Clubs and societies can serve a great deal as well. Do not hesitate to meet someone for coffee or drinks to have a conversation and maybe to start building a long-time friendship. Usually, freshers do not reject such invites as they also are interested in making new friends. But in case you do not feel comfortable with this way of assimilation, do not force yourself. Take it easy and do not expect to meet your future BFF on the first day of university. Take time and let events evolve naturally.
University is a long road and you do not have to walk it all at ones. The first week may be difficult but with time you will notice that there are some people around you and they build connections with each other by having common tasks, interests, and places for going out. Some students may have plenty of “friends” but in fact, they will just have a selection of humans to spend time with. So you can choose to stay in your room and to refresh your mind, paying time for your favorite activities etc. You can also call your mum or close relative to share your thoughts and events of the day.
Going to university you make the first step towards adult life and one of the greatest things about it is that you will be free from the peer pressure. You will be able to choose what to do, when and why as this is your life and only your choices matter to you. So you are free to decide whether to go out or not, make new friends or enjoy solitude etc. Do not force yourself to search for connections. The best way to socialize is when you want it and feel comfortable with this. You will find people you will be comfortable being around eventually, so there is no need to rush the events.
University’s effect on mental health
We should not underestimate the effect of the first week at the university on the mental help of the freshers. Often this is the time when their anxiety grows. So this is the reason to calm yourself if you feel anxious as you now know that almost everyone in your group has the same feelings. Usually, this type of anxiety does not last long and you will feel better with time. But if your bad condition will last longer and without any positive changes, this may lead to more serious problems like depression.
Problems with mental health are very common and disturbing in US universities as well as in educational institutions all over the world. The anxiety may be caused by financial problems, curriculum pressure, worries about your future career and other factors that lead to mental crisis. According to some reports, 1 of 4 students suffers from mental issues during their studying at the university. Considering this data, there are high chances you will face some issues as well on this stage of your life. This is almost impossible to avoid any mental difficulties when you drastically change your living environment. If this is not about you, then someone you know may be in the group of risk.
The main point of this passage is that when you notice there something happens with your mental condition after you start your education, you do not have to feel like you are crazy or something. On the contrary, you are the average student who has to overcome average difficulties. But you still need to monitor your conditions and check whether it is within regular parameters or you suffer for too long and need some professional help.
How to tell the difference between a bad mood and depression?
Mental health is an important thing and you need to monitor your conditions and seek help in case something in your brain make you worry. However, you need to understand that human emotions include sadness as well as the ability to express sadness as well as happiness is also a sign of your mental stability. You may have plenty of reasons to feel sad and this is a part of our life. We can miss our friends and family, be upset because of some failures or difficulties in studying or working. Feeling sad does not mean you suffer from depression. If you can find the definite reasons why you’re feeling sad, you are within a norm.
But what is the depression then and how to detect this condition?
In simple words, the professional psychologists explain this condition as a constant feeling of sadness without definite triggers or reasons. This is the main difference between a bad mood and depression. An article in Psychology Today we may find a wider explanation:
Depression is an unusual condition, may also be considered as a mental illness that chronically affects a person’s emotions, thoughts, perceptions, and actions. Depression makes us feel sad whether have we a decent reason for that or not. This condition may appear even without any noticeable events or circumstances and the person does not always experience some serious losses or problems before depression as it often may appear without any obvious triggers. Objectively the life of the person with depression may be fine (and the patients even admit this), but bad feelings will haunt the anyway.
If you notice that you constantly feel sad even if there are no obvious reasons for that and even if your life is fine in all aspects but you still cannot enjoy it – there are high chances you suffer from depression. You can use the checklist of symptoms of depression from Psychology Today to monitor your condition and minimize risks of digging deeper into your mental issues.
If you have checked more than five symptoms from the list below, you may be in depression:
– most of the time you feel depressed and everything can irritate you;
– you lose interest in the activities that you liked or enjoyed before;
– you have noticed changes in your weight or appetite;
– you have difficulties with falling asleep or waking up and you sleep longer than it is required for the normal brain functioning;
– your actions are slowed down or you cannot rest for a long time;
– you feel tired and have a lack of energy most of the time;
– you constantly feel worthless and guilty;
– you have troubles with focusing on things, the lack of concentration, inability to create and make decisions;
– you often have thoughts about suicide or just do not want to live.
If you found that this checklist applies to your condition, ask for professional help as soon as possible. Students usually neglect their mental conditions and do not ask for help. That is why there are a lot of self-harm and suicide cases among students.
Where to seek for help
For most students, it is hard even to admit that they suffer from serious mental condition and that they need professional help. But the next challenge is finding the place where they can find that help. Usually, it is more difficult to find a place where you can address your mental issues comparing to physical problems. So students, even if they have admitted they have problems, cannot identify the place they can go with their problems.
That is why we have collected some options you may use in case you seek for help or some of your friends or mates does.
University counselling services
Usually, universities provide students with numerous services and counseling. They often hire qualifies counselors and psychologists to provide students with professional help or at least checking service. And this can be the place where you can get qualified advice considering your mental health. In some universities, such help can be provided by other students that can be even more effective as they have faced the same difficulties of assimilation a year or even less ago. This option allows students to feel more informal without visiting special offices whether they might feel like crazy. But the friendly peer conversation may be really helpful. You can check the university website and see what resources and services are provided for students.
To make it easier to adjust to university life, most universities assign a personal tutor to each student. The level of the care they provide may vary depending on the educational institution, but anyway, this is one of the options for providing help for freshers. Sure thing, the significant part is played by the relationships you will have with your tutor. And if you are lucky to find a common tongue, you can share your feelings and worries in a friendly conversation, especially if you have any mental worries. Your tutor may help you directly or advise to talk to someone who will more likely help you.
It is okay if you do not feel like sharing your worries, especially connected with mental illnesses, as you have changed your doctor after moving in. But if you suffer from serious problems and cannot cope with them on your own, you need professional help and the doctor is one of the most suitable people for providing it. Despite the fact that your GP is not specialized on mental issues, he or she will be able to define the service that will suit your need the most. They also may prescribe you some medications to ease your condition. This is the place where you can get a doctor’s note to justify your missing classes, exams etc.
In case you cannot make yourself talk to professional or other people, you can try to find a solution online. There are numerous websites and resources where you can share your concerns and discuss your mental problems. We refer now to the services like Student Minds, the NHS’s Moodzone, and Students Against Depression.
This is the place where you can find immediate help if you feel too depressed and you worry about your life. This is a 24-hour service that can be reachable anytime and any day. You can call there for free on 116 123 and find a person to talk to and discuss your worries in your head. You can rely on receiving a sincere help, advice and simple a shoulder to cry on. You can tell what you worry about the most and even find a solution to the most concerning issues.
This is another British service that is aimed at helping students with their issues. The service is available via the phone or live chat. They are available at night hours between 6 pm and 8 am, to close the gap when other services do not work. You can call there using 020 7631 0101 or text on 07717 989 900. Also, Skype, IM and email options are available. The contact info can be found on the website. Nightline has well-trained volunteers-counselors who want to help students and provide valuable advice to make it easier to overcome years of studying. They offer a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on. You also can be sure that your communication will be strictly confidential.
What about my classes?
You need to realize that your health, both physical and mental. Are of the main priority and you need to put them in the first place anytime you feel seriously sick or depressed. Do not try to keep up with your educational plan ignoring your mental issue. You risk getting more serious conditions if not fix the current slight depression etc.
Extensions to assignment deadlines
If you feel anxious due to having many deadlines, you become less able to complete the task properly eventually. So you can make everything even worth by trying to keep up with deadlines even if you are mentally exhausted. So try to ask your tutor to extend your deadline to provide you with the opportunity to recover and have some rest (physical and emotional). A doctor’s note can help to prove that you do not fake your condition and you really need help. Usually, tutors and professors try to be sympathetic to students, especially the freshers so you can rely on their understanding.
Apply to defer or retake exams
If your mental condition makes it impossible to pass current exams or you are strongly sure that your bad results were caused by mental issues, you can request for deferral. If you really can explain why you ask for re-talking, you will likely be provided with this opportunity. Moreover, if you observe that you constantly perform badly on your exams even if you know the topic or subject, you need to check your general mental condition as this may be one of the signs of depression. Do not waste your time expecting that everything will be fixed somehow without any actions from your side. Make it possible to provide an explanation and proofs that your mental health affects your exam performance. After this, you will be allowed to retake the exam without any penalties.
Do not take no for an answer
Universities are obliged to pay attention to the mental conditions of their students. So if you face some unsympathetic attitude to your emotional problems, you can address to the students’ union and receive the proper help, assistance etc.
If you still cannot find a solution…
Take some rest. Take a break and move back home for a while. Or you can travel to some other places to relax and change the environment. This is a great opportunity to revise your life plans and goals. Maybe you will find out that you do not want to dedicate yourself to the university to the extent you did before. Or you just took too much on your shoulders and a few months off may become a solution. The main statement of this article is that you should not be ashamed of mental conditions you may suffer from. You will show you strength if you will try to fix it.