Preparing you for university

University can be one of the most exciting and amazing experiences, and can offer the chance to learn, meet new people, gain independence and find out more about who you are.

We want to make sure you get the most out of your university experience! The following information provides an insight into what to expect when coming to university along with some good advice on how to navigate some of the potential challenges you may face.

What should I expect?

You probably already have an idea of some of the things to expect when coming to university, such as meeting new people, finding new independence, having a student loan, attending lectures and getting involved in social activities.

Whilst a lot of these things are part of student life, there are also new and unique challenges too. These may include the pressure to meet new people, managing money, learning how to cook, managing academic pressure and feeling homesick.

For most students, university is a mixture of all of the above, and it’s important to expect that there may be challenges along the way. If we look at these challenges as part of your university experience, you are less likely to perceive them in a negative way, and the focus can then be on learning to overcome these challenges instead.

So let’s explore what to expect.

1) I’m going to meet loads of new friends straight away
Reality: You will meet lots of new people at first, but it may take some time to form friendships – which is okay. Take the opportunities to socialise if you want to meet new people, but be reassured that friendships often happen naturally and gradually.

2) University will be great all the time
Reality: University is great most of the time, but like any new experiences it has its challenges which can often seem stressful or overwhelming. Try to be balanced in your expectation of this as it will make it easier to accept and overcome challenges as they arise, rather than them seeming like an unexpected shock.

3) I’ve got to try to fit in to make friends
Reality: Most people feel there is a pressure to fit in, in order to make friends when starting university. In reality if you just be yourself and do what you enjoy, you are likely to meet like-minded people along the way and form genuine friendships.

4) I am the only one feeling this way
Reality: Mostly everyone is in a similar position – undertaking new learning, new routines and meeting new people. It is likely that others are experiencing the same pressures and worries about university that you might be. Talk to others, you may realise it’s helpful to speak to someone else and see what their perspective is.

5) I shouldn’t feel lonely or homesick
Reality: Most people feel lonely or homesick at one point or another during university. You could consider this to be part of the process of change. These feelings are normal, and there are always positive actions you can take if you are feeling this way, such as trying to meet new people, or even calling home.

6) I should know how to do all of my work to a great standard already
Reality: University is a whole lot different academically than college or sixth form. The whole point of coming to university is to learn and improve your skills – there wouldn’t be much point if you knew it all already. Be kind to yourself, acknowledge your successes and treat your setbacks as an opportunity to learn.

7) I need to reinvent myself because now is my only chance to start fresh
Reality: Whilst this may feel true, you have endless opportunity to grow and change as a person throughout university and beyond. Feel free to be who you want to be, but also try to accept who you are and remember the values and beliefs that are important to you as you go.

8) I need to go hard or go home
Reality: You can go gentle and stay! Just because you have the freedom to do whatever you want, doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Remember boundaries can be positive, and it’s important to know what yours are in order to protect your mental and physical health.

9) I’m rich!
Reality: That lump sum student loan may make you feel rich, but it has its limitations. Don’t spend without thinking of the consequences – remember that you need to budget in order to ensure you have enough money to manage until your next student loan payment.

Overcoming your worries

Worrying is something we all do. We often think it helps us to prepare for what is coming up, by thinking of all the things that could go wrong.

Too much worrying however, is unhelpful, and this can actually impact the way we think and feel about the upcoming situation, leading to stress and even anxiety.

When worry has taken over, it can be helpful to ask yourself:

  • What am I worried about?
  • How likely is it that it will come true?
  • What is the worst case scenario and how can I manage this?
  • Will this matter in a month, a year, or five years?

With that in mind, here are some of the key things that students worry about before coming to university:

1) I won’t make any friends
Starting university you are likely to meet new people in your halls, new people on your course and new people if you join any clubs or societies. Given this, it is unlikely that you will not make any friends at university. As we stated previously, sometimes friendships take time to form. If you choose, there are lots of groups and activities designed to help you meet new people that you can attend.

2) I will run out of money
This is a valid worry for many students, but the fact that you are thinking about money management already is positive. Money management comes down to good planning and organising – take a look at our money advice webpages for advice on budgeting and money saving.

3) I won’t be good at or like my course
The unknown can often be worrisome, and this is true when it comes to a course you haven’t started yet. Try to reassure yourself that you have picked the course for a reason, and that you are at university to learn. If you make a mistake, the chances are you will be okay and will learn from it for next time. If you are really struggling with your course – help is at hand from your tutors, learning services and the transitions team if you need it.

4) It will all be too much
Coming to university IS a lot and at times it may feel too much, but it won’t always be this way. In a few weeks you will be settled in and feeling a lot less overwhelmed. When you’re feeling this way, try to break things down into smaller tasks so they seem more manageable.

5) I won’t enjoy it
University is vast and varied and there are so many aspects to enjoy. The likelihood is that you will at least like part of your university experience. If you find you’re not enjoying aspects of it try to figure out why not, and then problem solve to see if you can make any changes to remedy this.

Remember worry is a normal emotion in the face of something new – it’s all about just learning to manage it. Help is always on hand from tutors, student service and more if you need it.

Top Tips!

If you know have looked at your worries realistically, but still feel worried take a look at these tips on managing worry.

For some top-tips before starting university, this article is a great read, written by the Complete University Guide.

The Transition to University

University is an amazing experience and gives you the chance to learn exciting new things, gain life skills and meet new people. We recognise that you may be leaving home for the first time, or balancing family and work commitments with your studies, therefore the transition to university can be an emotional one, full of ups and downs.

The sections below will help you embrace change, and teach you how to manage any issues you may face, both emotionally and practically to prepare you for the transition into university life.

Independence and identity

A lot of the time coming to university can be a person’s first true experience of independence – by living away from families, parents and guardians, meaning the freedom to make choices and do what you want is entirely yours.

With this in mind it can be tempting to want to take the opportunity of not having those established relationships and to reinvent yourself. It can also be tempting to do everything that you were previously perhaps not allowed to do.

Whilst this freedom and independence might seem fun, it is important to remember that it is easy to overdo it by just doing what you want to do, and that some boundaries can be healthy and positive for our physical and mental health. For example, going out every night and drinking to excess could seem fun, but the consequences (hangovers, poor sleep etc.) could be detrimental to your wellbeing.

It is important to know what your personal boundaries are when coming to university. Take some time to think about what your own values, beliefs and standards are for yourself, and try to stick to these once you are at university. This could be simple, for example, knowing your limits when it comes to drinking alcohol or knowing how many nights out per week you can go on without having any negative impact for you.

Whilst university it all about new experiences and experimentation, remember that you don’t have to do this all at once, and you have the rest of your university experience for this, and time beyond university too.

It is important for our own wellbeing to take some time out to check in with yourself, and see if you are happy with the boundaries you have set yourself, readjusting these as you go if you need to.

Like anything, not all aspects of independence are positive ones. You may find new responsibilities overwhelming, or you may feel homesick. These feelings are completely normal and are part of the process of finding independence. If this is the case, try to change what you are doing slightly – maybe call home, take some time for yourself or try to break the responsibilities down into smaller tasks. Don’t be worried about acknowledging how you feel or seeking support if things feel too much.

Managing uncertainty

Uncertainty can be an uncomfortable feeling, but it is an inevitable part of life. We cannot know what the future will bring, and we cannot know how best to respond in every single scenario in advance.

Sometimes uncertainty and not knowing can lead to us feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious – especially if we imagine the worst case scenarios about things to come. If this happens, we may worry that we will not be able to cope, and this can impact our mental and physical health.

Whilst we cannot eliminate uncertainty altogether, we can look at which skills and strategies will help us to manage feelings of uncertainty.

By practicing these skills, we can know that even if we don’t know specifically how to manage a situation, we will have the skills to cope with the not knowing. The best part about uncertainty is that it tends to be temporary, and things eventually do become certain in the end, which makes it easier to cope with.

Here are some things that you can do to manage uncertainty:

1) Focus on what you can control
Much of the time, the stress and anxiety that we feel is as a result of imagining a lot of worst-case scenarios about the future, and expecting that we are going to be unable to cope with them. Whilst to an extent we may feel that thinking about every single possible outcome is helping us to prepare, most of the time this does more bad than good. Instead, try to focus on what aspects of the situation you can control, and not what you can’t. For example, if you are worried about not making friends at university, rather than focusing on every way people could react, try to focus on what you can do to help you to socialise – for example, friend your housemates before you go to university on social media, plan to attend any events run by campus life to meet new people.

2) Set goals
When things seem out of control, it can be hard to plan ahead, and this can lead to stress and anxiety, or feelings of purposelessness. If this is the case try to set a few goals for yourself that are often ‘bigger’ than the things you feel uncertain about. For example, if you are worried about settling in at university and making friends, try to make a goal that focuses on your academic work – “I’m going to try to learn as much as I can and attend every lecture in my first semester.” Setting ourselves goals outside of what we are worried about can bring a sense of reassurance and purpose despite any uncertainty.

3) Remember your reasons/values/identity
It can be very easy when things seem uncertain to question what we are even doing in the situation in the first place.  Often, rather than facing things head on, we avoid them, and want to go back into our comfort zone, which is likely to be a situation where everything is certain. For example, if you come to university, it may be that at times of uncertainty you question why you’re here and want to go back home where you are familiar with everything. It can be helpful at these times to remember your reasons for why you made the decision to come – to have a new experience, to learn, to get a great degree from a great university, to face your fear. It can also be helpful to remember the things that are important to you – your family, hobbies, interests, and to remember that not everything is uncertain, and that some things are constant.

4) Understand why you are feeling uncertain
Uncertainty is definitely part of life, but that being said, sometimes we need to look deeper and ask ourselves why we are feeling uncertain. Sometimes, it can be that we are worried about something very specific, that we can address. For example, you may feel uncertain about coming to university, but when you give it some thought, you are worried about being away from home. Once you know this, you can then overcome the challenge – this could be by telling friends/family how you feel, connecting with some university friends before you arrive via social media, and to make sure that you have a way of contacting people if you need to once you’re at university, or even planning to visit home in advance as some added reassurance.

5) Problem solve
If you find yourself worrying about things outside of your control, for example “but what if despite all that they don’t like me?”, try to ask yourself “how could I cope with that scenario”. This helps us to focus more on solutions, rather than the problem. If you are still worrying about the unknown, despite having thought about the things in your control, tell yourself that worrying about it is unhelpful for you and “push away” the problem – using distractions can be helpful to take your mind off what you are worrying about.

6) Manage worry
All of the tips we have talked about so far will help with managing the feelings of worry that often come with uncertainty, however, worry is a normal reaction when things are uncertain, and therefore you cannot expect for it to completely go away. It’s important to not always try to be happy, and to instead accept how we are feeling. One way to do this is to practice mindfulness, which is all about focusing on the present moment without worrying about the future, and accepting how you are feeling. If you are still feeling worried you can always try some breathing techniques, grounding techniques or relaxation exercises which can be found here.

7) Don’t seek perfection
When we have expectations of perfection about things to come, it can be very stressful when the reality doesn’t meet our expectation. Instead, try to be realistic in what you expect, and that things will not always go to plan. This means we will be more prepared if this does happen to cope with it.

8) Embrace the unknown
We have talked a lot about uncertainty being a scary experience, but the truth is it is also one of the most exciting experiences, full of hope and potential. If you are feeling nervous, try to focus on the positives, and acknowledge that any step forward comes with a bit of uncertainty, and that the feeling is a sign that you are trying something new, that will add to your life experience in one way or another – for example, facing the unknown means you will have learnt how to cope with that situation for next time.

9) Reach out
If you are feeling uncertain, sometimes it’s best to talk to someone we feel we can trust – family, friends or others. They are often a great source of reassurance and advice, and they can often offer a different perspective on the situation that we are worried about. Importantly though, they can offer a listening ear, and a reminder that no matter how you feel, you have support. There is always support available from the university if you are feeling uncertain – you can talk to your personal tutor, our chaplaincy service, our wellbeing and counselling team or our transitions team. You can also talk to friends from university – the chances are if you are feeling uncertain, other people are too.

10) Express your feelings
Sometimes uncertainty can lead us to have lots of thoughts, feelings, worries, excitement and energy bottled up, and it can be healthy to find a way to express how you are feeling. Whether this is writing, talking about how you are feeling, or doing something physical or creative, it is good to express our emotions. Keeping a journal can be good, as you can then look back on previous times that you have felt uncertain and see how it turned out, and how you coped, which can be helpful for any current uncertain times.

11) Gratitude
When uncertainty is overwhelming, it can be easy to focus on the negatives, the worst case scenarios and feel stressed. It can be really helpful to take some time out to pause and think about the good things you have in your life – whether that is the people in it, the outdoors, your morning coffee, your favourite music or food, we all have things to be grateful for, and spending time focusing on those things, rather than our worries can help us to feel positive and more resilient.

Responsibility

Independence is one of the best parts about coming to university, but with freedom comes responsibility. Some people may have already had lots of experience of managing responsibilities prior to starting university, and for others it may be a new experience. Responsibility can be a great opportunity to learn, and take the steps needed in preparation for the wider world. However, like any new experience or expectation, it can be overwhelming and stressful at times. The best way to deal with this is knowing what to expect.

Here are some tips on managing those key responsibilities

1) Know what you’ve got to do
Look those responsibilities straight in the eye and accept that they are part of coming to university too. Make a list of all the things you need to consider – such as managing money, food shopping, cooking and doing laundry. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can get on top of managing them.

2) Learn how to do the tasks and create a plan
It is impossible to carry out tasks if we do not know what they involve, or how to do them. If you are unsure about anything, be proactive and take some time to understand what it is exactly that you need to do – whether this is how to meal plan, food shop, cook a meal, put a wash on or budgeting, there are so many resources available.

3) Create a plan
Apply the knowledge about how to carry out the tasks to yourself. Aim to plan how you will manage your money in advance by working out your total income and outgoings, and then create a weekly budget based on this. Also have a think about what food you plan to eat, where you can buy this from and how you can cook it. It can be helpful to plan your meals out a week in advance. Also think about your laundry and how many colours you will need to divide this into, and which of your belongings you should and shouldn’t tumble dry.

3) Stick to a weekly routine
Try to incorporate the tasks you need to do into a regular routine, for example, doing food shopping every Saturday morning, or laundry every Wednesday night. Whilst this isn’t the most exciting or glamourous part about coming to university, having what you need to do in a routine will make you more likely to keep on top of things, and avoid a buildup of stress.

4) Don’t procrastinate
Remember that whilst procrastinating may seem like a good idea in the short term, as it means you can avoid the stress or boredom of responsibility for a bit longer, it generally isn’t a good idea in the long term, and leads to unnecessary stress. Try to take one task at a time as to not overwhelm yourself, and make boring tasks more fun by listening to music, or having an incentive to work towards.

5) Remember feeling overwhelmed is normal
It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed by new experiences, and to feel under pressure when there is expectation. Try to embrace the feeling, and acknowledge that it is part of the experience of becoming independent. As with all new things, once you get the hang of it, it won’t seem so bad anymore. Responsibilities are like any others skills, and the best part about them is that they can always be learnt and improved upon.

6) Support
If you are struggling there is lots of support on hand if you need it. Feel free to reach out to peers, or to the teams within student services; such as wellbeing and counselling, chaplaincy, money advice, transitions and inclusion.

7) Practice now!
Don’t wait until you are at university to practice taking some responsibility! Offer to do the laundry or cook dinner for a week. There’s no time like the present to start preparing, and you may even find it to be rewarding and enjoyable.

Managing Money

The thought of receiving a lump sum student loan that is all yours can seem amazing at first, but it is really important to remember that this money has limitations, and that it needs to last for a lot of students until their next student loan. Trying to think that far ahead when spending money can be difficult, and it can be tempting to just think about spending the money in the short term without thinking about the consequences of whether you can afford this or not.

It is therefore really important to think about how you are going to manage your money. The best way to do this is to create a budget which breaks that lump sum money down into a monthly or weekly budget. This way you know exactly how much you have to spend each week on food, going out, travel and more. Remember if you overspend one week, you will need to try to balance this out the next week if you want to have enough money available each week.

Luckily, there are lots of ways that students can save money by using student discounts, student rail cards and more. Don’t forget however, that a lot of the time you can spend less just by making smart swaps and wiser choices such as shopping for supermarket own brand products rather than premium brands, or by making lunches or using a reusable travel mug instead of buying lunch or a hot drink each day.

For more advice on budgeting and all money related matters check out our Money advice team webpages.

Check out UCAS’s guide to managing money:

Take a look at Save the Student’s guide on managing money, including a budgeting spreadsheet for you to download.

Routines

Whether we like it or not, we live our lives by a series of routines. Sometimes, a lack of structure can be freeing, for example, having holidays, having time to sleep in, being able to stay up late on a Saturday night. However, too much of this can have a big impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. Therefore it is important to try to stick to few basic routines.

Sleep
Everyone talks about how important getting enough sleep is, and this is because we spend about a third of our lives asleep. Sleep is essential – it is as important to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing, and is vital for maintaining good mental and physical health. Sleeping helps us to recover from mental as well as physical exertion.

Sleep routine
If you have difficulty falling asleep, a regular bedtime routine will help you wind down and prepare for bed.
First of all, keep regular sleeping hours. This programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.
Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.
It is also important to try and wake up at the same time every day. While it may seem like a good idea to try to catch up on sleep after a bad night, doing so on a regular basis can also disrupt your sleep routine.

Make sure you wind down
Winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed. There are lots of ways to relax:

    • A warm bath (not hot) will help your body reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest
    • Writing “to do” lists for the next day can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions
    • Relaxation exercises, such as light yoga stretches, help to relax the muscles. Do not exercise vigorously, as it will have the opposite effect
    • Relaxation CDs work by using a carefully narrated script, gentle hypnotic music and sound effects to relax you
    • Reading a book or listening to the radio relaxes the mind by distracting it
    • There are a number of apps designed to help with sleep. See the NHS Apps Library
    • Avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before you go to bed as the light from the screen on these devices may have a negative effect on sleep

Morning routines
You may have thought that good sleep was all about having an evening routine, however a good morning routine is just as important. Without a morning routine it can be tempting to sleep in and stay in bed, however this can be very disruptive to our sleep cycles, and can stop us from getting to sleep later that night.

  • Aim to get up at the same time each day
  • If you are a chronic snoozer, try charging your phone away from your bed so you have to physically get up to turn your alarm off
  • Try to do the easier steps first (e.g., having a morning coffee) leading up to the more difficult ones (going for that morning run!)
  • Motivate yourself with a little music
  • Remember your reasons for wanting to start your day!
  • Try to be active during the day and avoid naps to tire your body out so your more ready to sleep at night

Meal times
Meal times often bring structure to our day, and beyond this eating regularly is good for our blood sugar and energy levels.

  • Aim to identify your best times to eat – some people prefer to eat earlier, whilst others prefer later
  • Aim to not go to bed too hungry as it could impact your sleep, or too full as this could cause digestive issues
  • Don’t skip breakfast – it’s thought of as the most important meal of the day for a reason as it gives us energy for the day ahead – even if you cannot manage something big, aim to eat a piece of fruit or cereal bar
  • Snacking at regular intervals can stop our blood sugar from crashing and keep us energised, aim to not exceed 2-3 snacks a day and be mindful of how healthy the foods are that you are snacking on
  • Aim to plan to go food shopping so you don’t run out of food
  • You could even consider meal prepping as a way of cooking your meals in advance to make it easier during the week
  • Try to not always eat out, as the cost can add up and it isn’t always the healthiest option
  • Make cooking and eating social by inviting a couple of friends or taking it in turns with housemates to cook dinner
  • Check out the food available on campus – from the canteen in the Hub, Roots – the vegan and vegetarian café, to Subway and Starbucks, there is always something delicious around the corner.
  • Take a look at these resources from Save the Student on student recipe ideas, a guide on how to plan meals within a budget, a template shopping list and meal planner

Lectures
One of the key ways to structure your time is around your academic commitments. Attendance at lectures and other teaching sessions is crucial to your success.

  • Plan the rest of your time commitments around lectures
  • Maximise “dead time”. For example, by using time on the bus, or other time that would be otherwise “wasted” to read or study
  • Make the most of being out of your halls when you do attend lectures as it’s easier to do things once you are already out – for example, by doing a food shop on the way back from campus

Academic work
Outside of your lectures, you will also need to do self-directed learning, assignments and revisions.

  • Make sure you know when your upcoming deadlines are
  • Plan and organise your work in advance so you have time set aside each week leading up to your deadlines
  • Try to stick to routines or “working hours” as this can sometimes make it easier to maintain a clear time separation between your academic work from your free time

Social events
Make some time for socialising each week, whether this is going on the student social night out, attending Free Film Friday at the arts centre, or just doing something low key with flatmates. Social events are important to have planned as they help to give something to look forward to.

Hobbies and interests
You may have existing hobbies, or are looking to get involved in new things – either way hobbies and interests are likely to be part of the new routine you form at university.
Whether it be something you do each day, or more structured, for example, playing in a sports team or being part of a society on a weekly basis, it’s important to allow time for interests.

Physical activity
Physical activity is crucial for our physical and mental wellbeing. Some people will have active interests and will be looking to join the on site gym or a sports team, whilst others will prefer some less structured time to do physical activity. Aim to increase your steps, walk instead of catching the bus into Ormskirk, or take a walk around the trim trail in between lectures for a quick activity boost.

Time for self-care
Time for ourselves is usually put to the bottom of the list, particularly when we have lots of other time commitments. However taking care of ourselves is essential for our physical and mental health, and we cannot expect to be able to give our best to others if we aren’t cared for first. Aim to put time aside each day or week that is dedicated to you – spend this doing things that are good for you, whether this is pampering, getting organised, relaxing or just watching netflix.

Have a go at planning your next week using this weekly planner.

Homesickness

What is homesickness?

Homesickness is a feeling of stress or anxiety caused by separation from people and places that you know. Leaving home to go to university is a very common cause of this.
It is so common in fact, that you can consider homesickness to be a normal part of starting university, especially when you’ve travelled a long way from home. This is because, suddenly everything around you is different – a new place, people, culture, and new expectations.
Homesickness can affect anybody, even for those people who are very independent, or even if you are really enjoying being at university.
Homesickness occurs most frequently at the start of the academic year and in the weeks following the Christmas holidays. Fortunately homesickness is usually a short-term issue. According to the National Union of Students (NUS), most students’ symptoms fade after their third week at university.

How do I deal with homesickness?
If left unresolved, homesickness can have an impact on our physical and mental health, so it’s important that you confront it. However, remember that it’s perfectly normal to miss familiar surroundings and struggle to adapt to new ones – feeling homesick isn’t a weakness or something to be embarrassed about, but a normal sign that you are moving outside of your comfort zone. This is part of any new experience.
The most reliable way to beat homesickness is to immerse yourself in university life, even though this can be daunting at first.

  • Explore your surroundings such as the campus buildings, Ormskirk town centre, your halls, and the local supermarket – the sooner you do this the sooner things around you will begin to feel familiar.
  • Similarly, try to establish a routine quickly, like the route you walk to lectures or the day you do your washing. This can make the new environment feel more stable and you will hopefully feel more settled.
  • Meet new people – There are so many ways to meet people at university; in your halls, on your course, at one of the sports clubs and societies. You can volunteer or work as a student ambassador. You can meet people in the library, launderette, gym or the supermarket! You can also attend some of the activities and events organised by campus life team specifically created to meet new people.
  • Even when you need to do something on your own, such as assignment work or revision, try to get out of your room. For example, study in the library or take your laptop to a coffee shop. Being among other people will help you feel less isolated.
  • Make your room a sanctuary! Feel free to put up posters, print photos, hang up fairy lights and more – whatever makes your new room feel like your space.
  • Exercising, eating well and regulating your sleeping pattern will all help to maintain physical and mental wellbeing, and this will help you feel more resilient to the effects of feeling homesick.
  • Manage your relationship with home. Regular contact with friends and family is important, but at the same time make sure you are giving yourself enough space to focus on adapting to your new life.
  • One of the best things you can do is have a positive attitude and keep yourself busy. Remind yourself that feeling this way is normal, and try to take positive actions when you are feeling anxious.
  • If you’re homesick at the start of term, it may be tempting to head straight back home at the weekend. However, it’s important to use this time to get to know your new surroundings and meet new people. Instead, plan a visit home for a few weeks’ time, so that you can look forward to it while making the most of your first weeks at university.

What should I avoid?
As well as trying to do some of the above, you should also try to avoid negative habits. It can be easy to manage our feelings in unhelpful ways, so try to avoid the following:

  • Bottling your feelings up
  • Staying in your room all the time
  • Rejecting opportunities to meet new people
  • Not attending lectures and seminars
  • Drinking alcohol more than you normally would.

What support is available?
Don’t be disheartened if being a student isn’t immediately the amazing experience you were expecting – that will come in time as you settle in. However if you do find that you are still struggling to settle in after a while – don’t worry as help is on hand from your course, student services and beyond. You can always reach out to:

  • Your Personal Tutor
  • Student Wellbeing Team
  • Chaplaincy
  • Transitions

Academic preparation

Your personal tutor

You will be allocated your own Personal Tutor who has two distinct and equally important aspects to the role:

 

    1. Academic guidance to enable students to make the most of your time at EHU and fully develop your ‘personal capital’. Your time at University is a very important part of your personal development: it influences and changes the way you think about your subject and the world in general. You gain new skills and knowledge, and develop your abilities, questioning your own, and others’ attitudes. Sometimes you can get preoccupied with details of academic work in modules, but it is very important that you see the wider picture of your development, and actively plan to take advantage of everything University offers. This will be valuable to you, not least when it comes to starting or continuing your career.
    2. Pastoral guidance and referral  for students to ensure appropriate and rapid resolution of problems and smooth transitions. Your Personal Tutor will help you to understand the support that is available through Student, Careers and Learning Services and also act as an advocate to help you navigate the complexities of the university systems. Your Tutor might also direct you to the Students’ Union Advice Centre where assistance is also available, especially in the case where you might want to appeal against a decision made during your programme of study. It is beneficial to have an informal chat with your Personal Tutor so that you will be able to build trust and a good relationship with them. In this way, if any major issues do arise you will feel more comfortable talking to them so that hopefully the problems don’t escalate. Where there might be any issues relating to the positive relationship, we would expect you to have with your Personal Tutor, you will be assisted in changing to an alternative Tutor to ensure a more effective level of connection.

Adjusting to University learning

One of the best parts about coming to university is that you are getting the opportunity to learn about a topic that you are really interested in, and have lots of experienced and knowledgeable staff to learn from. Therefore we might expect that everything with our course is going to come easy to us.In reality, studying at a university is a big change in a lot of ways. Firstly, the level at which you are being taught is usually a significant step up from what we have experienced prior to university.

Secondly the volume of new information to begin with can feel like a lot, especially alongside all the other lifestyle changes that coming to university involves.

There is also more self-directed learning, which means taking your own initiative to learn outside of timetabled classes. This could include doing research, wider reading and more.

There are often larger class sizes in university compared with at college or sixth form, and the assessment process is again very different.

Therefore all of these changes means that there is inevitably a period of adjustment when it comes to the way we learn and study.

Attendance
It is unsurprising then that one of the best ways to adjust is to ensure you attend all of your timetabled lectures and teaching sessions. It may seem tempting to miss that 9am lecture for extra time in bed, but the extra effort of then having to catch up on work, whilst trying to keep up with work is not worth the hassle.

Note Taking
Another way to adjust is to practice your note taking skills. Taking notes as you are in lectures can be a great way to capture the key information, and reinforce what you are learning. Try to find what works best for you – whether this is handwriting notes and typing them later, annotating lecture notes or typing as you go. Notes will be handy for future revision.

Resources
Make the most of any and all online resources that are available to you – whether this is stuff your tutors have recommended or whether you are taking advantage of some of the academic skills workshops available from learning services. All of these will go a long way to help you adjust your learning.

Ask for help
Don’t spend time feeling stuck, stressed or anxious about work. You are encouraged to ask your tutors for support if needed – they may be able to clarify things for you or signpost you to other resources that can help.

Plan and Organise
Lastly deadlines can creep up very quickly in the busyness of semester one so don’t be caught out by this. Ensure you know when your deadlines are and plan and organise what you have to do and how long you have to do it in advance.

Self-Kindness
The biggest tip is to not beat yourself up if you make mistakes or don’t know how to do things straight away. Coming to university is all about learning and upskilling – you aren’t meant to know how to do it all already.

If you don’t get the grades you hoped for straight away or make a mistake, be kind to yourself. Look at these things as a learning curve rather than “problems”. Try to think about what changes you will make next time, instead of dwelling on what has gone wrong, and think about the things that went well. Having negative thoughts can often be unhelpful and have a detrimental impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

This ability to “bounce back” after facing difficulty is known as resilience, and when we apply this to academic working this is known as academic resilience.

Academic resilience

What is resilience?
Emotional resilience refers to one’s ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises.More resilient people are able to “roll with the punches” and adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties; less resilient people have a harder time with stress and life changes, both major and minor.Resilience can also be seen as a person’s ability to “bounce back” after facing difficulty, and when we apply this to academic working this is known as academic resilience.

Why is resilience important?
As we acknowledged in the last section “learning”, things may not always go as we expected, and we may encounter challenges as we progress through our university journey.Increased resilience, and choosing a less negative reaction to these challenges, means that adverse events are less likely to have a negative emotional impact, and could lead to better wellbeing and better academic outcomes too.Let’s take a look at how levels of academic resilience impacts how we react to this situation.

Lower resilience

If we progress through university seeking perfection in our academic work, the reality is there are likely to be times when the reality does not meet our expectation. This then may lead to feelings of frustration and disappointment.

For someone with lower levels of resilience, this situation may then be perceived negatively, which could potentially lead to negative thoughts such as “I’m not good enough to be at university, I’m a failure, I should have done better”.

This could then impact emotions and leading to feeling low or worried.

This negative perception could also impact behaviour – for example, not wanting to ask questions in lectures for fear of getting the answer wrong, not being as outgoing, or setting further unrealistic expectations when it comes to academic work to overcompensate for the setback.

These behaviours tend to be unhelpful in the longer term for both academic success and wellbeing, and can lead to the development of unhealthy habits.

Higher resilience

Taking the same situation, even if you have higher levels of resilience, you still may feel frustrated and disappointed if you don’t achieve what you were expecting. It is important to allow yourself to embrace and accept your feelings.

The biggest difference therefore is not in our emotions, but in how we perceive the situation. Individuals with higher resilience may perceive the situation in a less negative way – for example, as an opportunity for learning, or as a minor setback in the bigger scheme of things, or even as part of the process of coming to university.

Perceiving the situation less negatively will mean the negative emotions are felt less intensely, and we are more likely to have balanced thoughts as opposed to negative ones “I am frustrated, but I did my best, one mistake doesn’t mean I am a failure, learning is what university is all about – I’m not expected to know it all”.

Similarly, by thinking about the situation in a more balanced way means we are less likely to let it impact our behaviour in a negative way. A person with higher levels of resilience may decide to ask a tutor about where they went wrong, and try to focus on how they can improve next time, instead of directing the negativity towards themselves.

The good news is that resilience is a skill that can be built upon, no matter what your current levels are resilience are.

Here are some top tips for building your academic resilience:

1) Expect challenges
Part of being academically resilient is to accept that there may be times in university where you may not understand everything straight away, things may not go right on the first attempt, or that sometimes you might not get the mark that you hoped for.

Knowing this, make sure that the goals you are setting for yourself are realistic ones.

2) Reframe negative thoughts
Turn those negatives into more balanced thoughts by asking yourself if there is a positive side to the situation. Try to see any issues that arise as a “challenge” not a problem, or any negative feedback as a learning opportunity, not a failure.

3) Problem Solving
If you encounter a problem in your work, aim to identify some positive actions you can take in response to the situation.

You can do this by mindmapping as many solutions you can think of. At the end of this you can pick the best solutions to carry out. For example, if you are disappointed with your mark, you may decide to speak to your tutor about your feedback, and aim to improve on the parts you got wrong for next time.

4) Emotions
Even if we acknowledge that we are not a failure after making a mistake, and have a plan for next time, we may still feel down or frustrated.

Emotions are completely normal and are part of every experience. We are all human, and so it’s important to acknowledge and accept our emotions. Practice identifying what the emotion is that you are feeling and try to do something positive to manage them.

5) Support
Our support networks are key in feeling resilient to managing academic stress; even just knowing that we are not alone in anything that we are facing can be reassuring, and make the stress we feel less intense.

In the face of an academic setback, it could be a good idea to speak to the lecture or your personal tutor, or even reach out and seek support from library and learning services, or other people in your class who may be experiencing the same feelings.

6) Celebrate your achievements

We often find it easier to focus on all the things left on our to do list, the negative feedback from tutors or those marks we didn’t get. That is why it is so important to give yourself credit for the things you do achieve – whether that is studying without procrastinating, answering a question in a seminar or passing a quiz, celebrating your achievements can go a long way to building your confidence and academic resilience.

Reach your potential with UniSkills! The team provide a wide range of face to face and virtual support designed to help you develop your academic skills and confidence at University and beyond!

Planning and organising

A big part of coming to university is managing your time. Between attending lectures, completing assignments, revising for exams, socialising with friends, keeping in touch with family, and looking after ourselves, it can seem that there isn’t enough time for everything!

Therefore it is easy to understand that not managing time will lead to build up of work, and can lead to feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and even feeling unable to cope.

Being organised and planning accordingly can help to break your work down into manageable chunks so that you can fit this into your life around any other commitments.

The Importance of Scheduling
Scheduling is the art of planning your activities so that you can achieve your goals and priorities in the time you have available. When it’s done effectively, it helps you:

  • Understand what you can realistically achieve with your time.
  • Make sure you have enough time for essential tasks.
  • Avoid taking on more than you can handle.
  • Work steadily toward your goals.
  • Have enough time for family and friends, exercise and hobbies.
  • Achieve a good work-life balance.

Time is the one resource that we can’t buy, but we often waste it or use it ineffectively. Scheduling helps you think about what you want to achieve in a day, week or month, and it keeps you on track to accomplish your goals.

Identify Available Time
Start by selecting a time frame that you want your schedule to span.

It could be a good idea to do this for the entire semester to begin with so you have a perspective on all upcoming deadlines, and then break it down into a weekly schedule that you plan for each week.

If you are making a weekly schedule, you need to initially establish the time available to you.

For example, you may have lectures scheduled for 2 full days a week. This is time that cannot be used in any other way, so you initially need to block that time out as unavailable.

This will then leave you with 5 days in which to block out time for academic reading, revision, assignment work and preparation for any other academic sessions such as seminars; as well as any other social or work commitments.

The amount of time you dedicate to each section will depend on what your goals are, and also the urgency and importance of the task.

Academic Priorities
If you are aiming to get the best grades possible, you should expect to put in an adequate amount of work time to reflect this. Speak to your tutors about how much time they expect you to do additional reading/work on the lecture content. As a general rule, you can do this on a 1:1 ratio. For example, a one hour lecture followed by one hour self-directed learning, and this could be by doing the recommended reading, typing up lecture notes or more.

Other Commitments (social, work, hobbies and more)
If you are part of a society or have a part time job, make sure that you also plan to dedicate adequate time in order to carry out these activities to the standard that you want. For example, if you work all day saturday and Sunday in a part time job, and go to a society on a Wednesday evening, this will leave 3 days and 2 evenings to focus on additional academic work.

Time for yourself
It can be really easy to completely schedule our time, and fill our diaries with commitments like study, work, socialising, hobbies and more. By doing this, it is really easy to overcommit and give too much energy to others, leaving us feeling worn down, and burnt out, which ultimately reduces our resilience and motivation in the longer term.

Therefore it is really important that you also give yourself the time you need, in order to look after your own physical and mental health. This time could be spent practically, by doing things such as cooking, eating and cleaning. But this is also time that you need to practice some self-care, for example having time to relax, watch TV, have a pamper session. The important part is that you are prioritisng your own needs, whatever these are. We can only give to others, and do our best if we make sure we are looking after ourselves first.

Prioritising
As we’ve talked about, there are a lot of different competing tasks that need our attention. So how do we know which ones needs our attention first?

Once you’ve got all your tasks and activities in front of you, you need to prioritise them.

You can determine priority based on a lot of different things, such as how big or difficult the task is, how important the task is, and how urgent it is. Essentially prioritising means that you put tasks in order of what needs to be done first.

  • Step 1 – determine which tasks go into which of the below boxes.Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal.Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.
  • Step 2 – Create a to do list in order of most important to least important. It is recommended to prioritise any tasks you put in the green “do first”, followed by “urgent” and “important” tasks.It is often a good idea to tackle the most difficult, complex and demanding tasks first when you are freshest. This way, even if you only manage to do one thing on your to-do list, you know it was the most important task.

Set realistic deadlines.
When you’re working on something that has a deadline, aim to set your own deadline ahead of the deadline. However, set realistic ones. Don’t try to rush yourself just to finish it earlier. Take everything one step at a time and don’t set yourself up for failure.

This is also applicable for your everyday work. Don’t overwhelm yourself. You don’t want to force yourself to finish something and then suffer the consequences of creating poor-quality work.

Practice!
Don’t wait until you’re at university to practice your planning and organising. Start by identifying some stuff you need to do now, and put this into priority order, taking each task step by step and see how you get on. The better practiced you are, the easier you will find it when it comes to the real thing.

And don’t forget, planning and organising can help us to create and structure and routine for our daily lives, not just when it comes to our assignments, which is a big positive for our mental health.

Perfectionism

What is perfectionism?

  • 1) The relentless striving for extremely high standards
  • 2) Judging your self-worth based largely on your ability to strive for and achieve such unrelenting standards.
  • 3) Experiencing negative consequences of setting such demanding standards, yet continuing to go for them despite the huge cost to you.

How is perfectionism unhelpful?
There is a big difference between the healthy and helpful pursuit of excellence and the unhealthy and unhelpful striving for perfection.

Healthy ambition can be a positive thing – it helps people to set goals, improve their determination and can lead to positive outcomes.

However this behaviour can become unhelpful is there is also a desire to avoid mistakes, a fear of failure and a fear of being viewed negatively by others.

These are often irrational fears can lead to further unhelpful behaviours such as setting impossible standards, working ourselves too hard and being very self-critical as a way of trying to avoid mistakes. This can have a big negative impact on mental health, as well as on our motivation and success.

Whilst these behaviours may have originally been intended as a way of motivating ourselves to be the best we can be, they are often counterproductive as the pressure to be perfect can be overwhelming.

Perfectionism leads to a lot of procrastination. Similarly, some perfectionists work so hard on trying to get everything perfect that they run out of time, and don’t meet their deadlines.

If perfectionistic thoughts and behaviours are unhelpful, why do people use them?
There are some advantages of perfectionism – it can lead to high standards, success and achievement.

It can also be a coping mechanism. For many, setting goals, and having high standards are a way of coping with stress. For these people, they may not know how to cope in any other way other than pursuing high standards and pushing themselves.

This may lead people to feel a sense of perceived control over stressors in their life, or they may only feel positivity/self-esteem from a sense of discipline and achievement.

People may use perfectionism as a way of attempting to counteract any procrastination, for example, overcompensating for time lost by working non-stop.

How to change perfectionistic and procrastination habits?

1) Be Aware

    • The first step to change any behaviour is awareness. Notice when you are a perfectionist – is it just in your academic work or other areas of your life?

2) Challenge thoughts and assumptions
Notice the unhelpful thoughts you have and challenge them. For example, the thought “I need to be perfect” can be balanced as “Even though I feel I need to be perfect, I know that I am only putting this pressure on myself. I would like to be perfect, but trying my best is good enough”. If you’re struggling to balance thoughts, ask yourself – what advice would I give to a friend who was being perfectionistic?

3) Change your behaviours
Lastly be aware of the perfectionistic behaviours you may use – do you check your work 10 times before submitting it? Do you have to re-fold clothes until they are perfect? Acknowledge these behaviours and make a conscious effort to not do them.

4) Practice Self-Compassion
Being self-critical is part of being perfectionism. By learning to be kinder to yourself, you will naturally want to set yourself more realistic goals, and be kinder to yourself if you don’t meet your expectations. Try some of the following ways to practice self-compassion:

      • Acknowledge your achievements and successes – even if you didn’t meet the goal you set out to accomplish.
      • Try compassionate self-talk
      • Try perspective taking – what would you say to a friend? What would a friend say to you?
      • Practice mindfulness/acceptance – just acknowledge how you feel, but don’t judge yourself.
      • Stop comparisons to others
      • Practice gratitude – what are you thankful for?

5) Cope better with failure
A fear of failure is a big part of perfectionism. The only way however to be better than perfect, is to learn how to cope with mistakes. Aiming high whilst seeing any mistakes positively is a recipe for success. Here’s how to cope better with failure:

      • Embrace your emotions – it’s okay to feel frustrated or disappointed when you experience a setback.
      • Challenge any negative thoughts or assumptions you have about failure- failure isn’t always a bad thing, lots of learning comes from making mistakes.
      • Research famous failures – Bill Gates failed a lot of his exams.
      • Practice making mistakes – even small ones. Was is as bad as it seemed?
      • Identify what can you learn when you do experience a setback.
      • Plan to move forward after you’ve made a mistake – what will you do differently next time?
      • Face your fear – each time you make a mistake, you are facing your fear which will only make you stronger.

6) Stop Procrastination
Perfectionism and procrastination are strongly linked, and together they can form an unhealthy cycle. To manage procrastination, try the following:

      • Aim for greatness, not perfection
      • Accept that you have control over your time
      • Plan and organise your work
      • Complete a priority to do list
      • Break tasks down into small, manageable chunks.
      • Time limited working – try to work with a timer set for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break.
      • Reward yourself when you complete work.
      • Ask for help if you’re feeling stuck.

Procrastination

What is procrastination?

From the Latin – ‘defer till the morning’.

‘To delay or postpone action’ and is a verb which implies doing something rather than not – i.e. active not passive (however, it is different from postponing something, as with procrastination it doesn’t usually get done the next morning!)

Why do people procrastinate?

There are a number of reasons we procrastinate, or put things off. Ultimately, we procrastinate as a way of avoiding stress or negative feelings. Here are a few examples:

      • Issues around time management and planning
      • Overload of tasks or feeling overwhelmed
      • Spending time worrying rather than doing
      • Not knowing what to do or how to do the task
      • Fear of failing or not meeting own standards (perfectionism)
      • Lack of self-confidence
      • Fear of success and possible consequences
      • Negative feelings – ‘I’m stupid, nothing ever goes right’
      • The task is boring
      • Avoiding the next task- ‘once this is done I will have to do XYZ’

How to overcome procrastination

      • Firstly we need to accept there is no magic wand, and we need to realise that we have control and choice over how we spend our time. Rather than thinking “but I have to see my friends” acknowledge “I am choosing to see my friends”, and change “I can’t do it” to “I’m choosing to not do it”.
      • Secondly we need to identify our goals, make realistic decisions and priorise our work. From this we can then plan a small section of work and work on it.
      • If work feels overwhelming, break down tasks into manageable parts and set yourself small goals. For more information, see the Planning and Organising section.
      • Boost your motivation – dwell on your strengths and achievements rather than the negatives as a way to boost your confidence and motivation.
      • Reward yourself when you have completed work.
      • If you’re feeling stuck, try something different e.g. just scribble/write.
      • Stop telling yourself you must do well – better to produce something on time rather than nothing or late work.
      • Energise yourself physically – try taking a break, stretching or going for a walk outside.
      • Try to focus on the task at hand – don’t look too far ahead or you may feel overwhelmed

Action plan
Use the below checklist to help you prepare yourself for doing work. Anticipate that you may procrastinate and try to overcome any challenges before you start.

      • Choose a task you need to do
      • Understand what is involved in doing the task
      • Work out what exactly you need to do – break tasks down into step by step tasks if needed
      • Identify areas where you might get stuck
      • Why are you stuck/likely to get stuck?
      • How have you tackled this in the past?
      • Identify a solution to overcome the problem

Study tips

1) Get Organised – Getting organised is the first step in any effective study plan. This means knowing what deadlines you have, collecting your lecture notes so they are in one place, and having all your required reading on hand. Think about creating a study plan which outlines how long you have until deadlines, and breaks the work down into small sections on the lead up to this. Don’t forget to use apps, calendars and reminders to help keep you on track.

2) Location, location, location – Think about the space that you are going to study in and make sure that it is appropriate for you. For some, they prefer to study at home, whilst others prefer the library to keep them on task. Try to choose a space free from distractions that you associate with thinking and working. Try not to work in your bed – this is where you might unwind and sleep, and therefore your brain will not associate it with the concentration usually needed for studying.

3) Choose the right time – Think about what time of day suits you most. Are you a morning person or a night own? Try to study at the time where you feel most productive. Try not to study through the night however as this can lead to disrupted sleep patterns.

4) Limit distractions – This may be a simple one, but it is effective. Distractions are easy, even if we only intend to reply to one text, this can often lead to minutes of scrolling on social media with time passing us by. Try to put distractions in out of reach places, and even use your phone setting or apps to limit your screen time while studying.

5) Understand the concepts – Make sure that you understand the concepts of the task at hand before you start planning or working. It can be very difficult to motivate yourself to do work if you are unsure of what that work is exactly. Don’t hesitate to revisit your lecture notes, or seek clarification from a tutor if you are unsure.

6) Break it down – The thought of sitting down to complete an entire assignment can be really overwhelming. Try to break your work down into sections of work, and then break this down further into what you actually need to do. This may then become more of a task list that you can work through one by one, which feels much more manageable.

7) Take breaks – Having shorts breaks whilst you are working can be really helpful. Breaks gives us the chance to take stock of our needs, and stops us from becoming fatigued and prevents burn out. Overall, you are much more productive if you take short breaks often. Try using the Pomodoro Technique when you are working – set a timer for 25 minutes and work during this, then take a 5 minute break. Having time limits means we are often more focused and productive.

8) Eat well and stay hydrated – As with the above point it is crucial to look after yourself when study for both your physical and mental health and wellbeing. Try to eat nutrient dense foods like fruit and vegetables, and drink plenty of water. Try to avoid excessive stimulants like soda and coffee and junk food, as although these may feel like they give us energy in the short term, they will often lead to crashes in energy after having them.

9) Ask for help – If you are struggling academically after attempting some work, don’t unnecessary time feeling stuck, and becoming stressed or anxious about the work. Asking for help is an effective way to problem solve – whether this be getting in touch with your lecturer, your personal tutor, or attending a UniSkills session, asking for help means that we resolves issues and can get back to the task at hand, without impacting our wellbeing.

10) Reward yourself – Rewards are an important part of hard work. It is healthy to recognise when you have worked hard and to celebrate your successes, even with small treats such as a coffee, some nice food, a night with friends. Rewards are also a great way to self-incentivise as you work.

Reach your potential with UniSkills! The team provide a wide range of face to face and virtual support designed to help you develop your academic skills and confidence at University and beyond!

The social side of University

Meeting new people

Socialising is a big part of coming to university, and there is often an expectation that you will meet lots of new people, join groups and societies and have plans with people every night. Therefore, it might not be unusual to know that worrying about not making friends is a big issue for people coming to university too.The truth is, meeting new people at university is great, and within the first few weeks of university you are likely to meet a lot of people, as there are lots of organised social events, you will be meeting your new housemates if you are living on campus, as well as new people on your course, and in any groups or societies you join too.

Social pressure comes with meeting new people. Sometimes this is the pressure to fit in, a pressure to be perceived in a specific way – for example not wanting to say no to a night out even though you are exhausted, because you don’t want people to perceive you to be boring and therefore not want to be your friend.

The reality is, the window to meet new people is far bigger than your first few weeks, in fact making friendships on your course as you progress through the year, or with other people on campus happens all year round.

If you are feeling exhausted and fancy a night in, the likelihood is that someone else feels that way too, and they have maybe just been waiting for someone else to say it. Try not to assume that you know what other people are thinking about you, because often we jump to the worse conclusions.

Try to do activities that you are interested in, whether this is avoiding alcohol completely, or just going on less nights out – don’t compromise on what you feel comfortable with. If you do what you enjoy, the chances are just by doing this you will meet likeminded people.

The phrase gets thrown around a lot but really – everyone is in the same boat. Don’t be afraid of striking up conversations as everyone is looking to make a friend. And just because you don’t share all of the same interests, or want to go out the same amount doesn’t mean you cannot be friends. Meeting a variety of interesting people is what it’s all about.

Here are some practical tips on getting talking to people

    • Leave your door open while you’re unpacking in your room, or hang a friendly sign from it.
    • Ask your housemates or course mates if they’d like to explore the campus or the town centre. Even if they’ve already done it, you can ask them to give you a tour.
    • Consider having a stash of biscuits or teabags for group situations – you’ll instantly be loved.
    • Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself randomly to somebody you’re standing in line with or sat next to. This doesn’t just go for freshers week either! University can always be an opportunity to meet new people.
    • Exchange numbers with people on your course and agree to go to lectures together – this sets you up for academic as well as social friendships.
    • Explore different societies – you’ll meet lots of different kinds of people with similar interests to you. It’s worth trying out new things, because you might find an interest in something that you hadn’t expected.
    • Connect with people on social media – it’s a great way of meeting new people and interacting with others, particularly if you haven’t had the opportunity to face to face.

Living in halls

It may feel overwhelming when you first move into halls, but remember that many people will be feeling the same way as you. You will soon find out who has the untidiest room, who never does their washing up and who is always staying out late! 

Here are a few handy tips to help you settle in and feel at home:

    • Don’t forget, everyone is in the same boat, so don’t be shy and make sure you spend time in the communal areas rather than in your room with the door shut!
    • Join your Facebook Halls group to find out who else is living in your halls and about key events taking place on campus or important messages about life in halls… you will receive the link to the halls page when you receive your accommodation confirmation email!
    • Don’t worry if you are living off campus or commuting as there will also be bespoke facebook groups create for you to join, so you can meet other people.
    • Label your belongings in the kitchen (and the stuff in your room). If it’s not got your name on it, it might just find its way into someone else’s kitchen cupboard or room…
    • Try to agree with your flatmates on a rota for buying essentials such as milk and bread, or even devise a washing-up rota.

For more advice on student living, check out Leapskills – a digital resource pack that helps you to prepare for living with others at university, there is even an interactive game you can play! 

The Students’ Union

Edge Hill Students’ Union exists to represent all students at Edge Hill University, whilst providing a variety of social and cultural opportunities. Find out more here.

Campus life

The Campus Life team are here to help you settle in and make friends in your halls of residence, so that you can make the most of your on-campus experience. They also work to ensure you have a safe and secure environment and can help you with any issues which may arise by providing support. The Campus Connectors are fellow students who can signpost you to others who will be able to help you with any problems you might have. They will also be organising a range of online and in-person events and activities to help you meet new people and get involved.

Social media

It can be overwhelming or scary to leave our friends and family behind, settle in somewhere new, meet new people and make new friends. 

Social media can be an amazing tool for making connections and familiarising yourself with new places, people and to stay up to date with what’s going on – such as social events and important information.

Key social media accounts for you to connect with are:

Isolation

Sometimes when you think about coming to university, there’s the expectation that you should be surrounded by new friends all the time. When you look at the amount of time that actually means, it is a pretty unrealistic concept. The truth is, we all feel isolated from time to time, and it’s a very normal experience, particularly when starting university.

Do I feel lonely, or is it something else?

There is a big difference between feeling lonely and being alone. You can be surrounded by lots of people, and have lots of friends and yet still feel lonely. Similarly, you may spend a lot of time alone, but be very comfortable with this.

Overcoming loneliness

  1. Redefine alone time – Part of finding independence at university is learning how to enjoy your own company, and recognising that solitude has it’s part to play – whether this is just checking in with yourself, taking some time to reflect on what you’ve been doing, taking time to plan and organise or doing a bit of self-care, time to yourself is important.
  2. Think about why you feel lonely – It could be that there is a more specific reason as to why you feel lonely, for example, having a lack of quality relationships, not meeting the expectations you had about making friends, or even homesickness. All of these feelings are completely normal as you find your feet at university and adjust to your new way of living.
  3. Meet new people – If you are wanting to enhance the relationships you have at university, there are lots of ways to meet new people, and social activities that you can attend that have been created with this in mind. Check out the on campus activities for some inspiration of how you can get involved!
  4. Acknowledge that building relationships takes time – Most of the friendship and relationships that you previously had all probably took a number of weeks, month or years to build! It can be easy to feel lonely when this suddenly isn’t the case, but remember that friendships get stronger day by day, and things could be very different in a very short time as those new friendships start to form and grow.
  5. Don’t limit yourself to one specific friend group – Similarly to the above point, friendships not only grow but they change too! It could be that after settling in, your friendship group changes, and that is okay. Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself too much to one set of friends, university is about meeting a variety of people.
  6. Be around people – If you’re feeling lonely, and don’t have an immediate way of meeting new people or being with friends, just being around people can be really helpful. Try and go to the library, sit in a coffee shop, or go to the gym, rather than being on your own in your room.
  7. Make use of your existing social networks – If you are feeling homesick, don’t forget that those people back at home are only a phone or video call away, and that they are very much still a part of your social network.
  8. Seek support – If you’ve tried a lot of the above tips and feel that things are getting any better – don’t worry as support is on hand. Seek support from student services, the student wellbeing team, the chaplaincy team or the campus connectors! There is always a friendly face to talk to and you may even find yourself more likely to attend a new activity too.

 

Social Anxiety

Shyness & Worry

Shyness and worry are both very normal things to feel when starting university. The pressure to meet new people, combined with the fact that we most likely have never had to meet so many new people at one time can be overwhelming! 

Most of the time this shyness is a result of worrying about how meeting new people will go, and what our social interactions will be like. Therefore it’s no surprise that for most people, after you have settled in and got over the initial meeting of people, this shyness and worry goes away.

But for some people, this isn’t the case, and they may feel shyness and worry in a lot of social situations, around people they don’t know, in large crowds, and the feeling of shyness and worry may also be a lot more intense; impacting them emotionally and physically. For these people, the feelings of shyness and worry may have such a big impact that it leads them to avoid the situations that make them feel this way, and eventually this can impact their day to day activities.

This is known as social anxiety.

Social Anxiety (social phobia) 

According to the NHS (2020) social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations.

Symptoms of social anxiety include:

    • worrying about everyday activities, such as meeting strangers, starting conversations, speaking on the phone, working or shopping
    • avoiding or worrying a lot about social activities, such as group conversations, eating with company and parties
    • always worrying about doing something you think is embarrassing, such as blushing, sweating or appearing incompetent
    • finding it difficult to do things when others are watching – you may feel like you’re being watched and judged all the time
    • fearing criticism, avoiding eye contact or having low self-esteem
    • often feeling sick, sweating, trembling or a having pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
    • experiencing panic attacks, where you have an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety, usually only for a few minutes

What keeps social anxiety going? 

You might ask, if social anxiety can have such a negative impact, what keeps it going? 

A number of different factors lead to a “vicious cycle” of anxiety. These factors include:

    • Negative anxious thoughts, physical sensations of anxiety, and avoidance of situations before a social event
    • Increased physical symptoms, increased self-focus, and the use of unhelpful safety behaviours (things that help to avoid anxiety in the short term, but are unhelpful in the longer term – e.g, no eye contact) during the social event
    • Negative thoughts and self-criticism after the event. 

All of these factors reinforce a person’s worry’s and anxious beliefs, which often then leads to the use of more safety behaviours and increased anxiety.

How to overcome social anxiety:

    • Challenge negative thoughts – Identify those negative thoughts about yourself, and try to look at them from a more balance perspective. Is there any factual evidence that supports the negative thought about yourself? What would you say to a friend who felt this way? Often we see ourselves in a negative light so sometimes we need to actively try to balance this out by identifying any positives too.
    • Decatastophise worries – When it comes to worries, often we only think about the worst possible outcome, we overestimate the likelihood of it happening, and we don’t think about how we would cope with this, which all contributes to feeling anxious. If you are worried, try to identify what the worry is, what the worst case scenario would be. Once you’ve done this, think about how likely it is that the worst case scenario would come true, and what the most likely scenario would be instead. Then think back to the worst case scenario. How would you cope with this? Think about some of the actions you would take. 
    • Breathing techniques – Often the physical sensations of anxiety can lead us to feel more anxious. A great way to manage this is to use breathing techniques. Try breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 4 seconds and slowly breathing out again for 4 seconds, and repeat this until your heart rate has slowed and you feel calmer.
    • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Another great technique for managing physical anxiety is progressive muscle relaxation. Start in your toes, and slowly tense all the muscles and hold this for 5 seconds before slowly releasing. Gradually make your way up your body to your face. This activity physically helps to relax your muscles and releases the tension we often feel when we’re anxious.
    • Mindfulness and Grounding – Mindfulness and grounding are great techniques to use, especially if you find you can’t stop worrying, or you are focusing on yourself a lot in a social situation. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the here and now without judging yourself, and you can do this in lots of ways: by identifying what emotion you are feeling, by focusing on your body or breathing, and by accepting yourself without judgement. Grounding techniques involve practicing mindfulness by using your senses to focus on the here and now. 
    • Try the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique You can use grounding anywhere you are by being mindful about whatever you are doing – washing up, walking, breathing or holding an object. 
        • What 5 things can you see around you?
        • What 4 things can you touch and what do they feel like?
        • What 3 things can you hear?
        • What 2 things can you smell?
        • What 1 thing can you taste?
    • Step Out of your comfort zone – A key part of anxiety is avoiding any situations that make us feel anxious, and although this may feel good in the short term, it is actually feeding into that vicious cycle. The best way to overcome this is to face your fear, and begin to do things that are outside of your comfort zone. Don’t take on too much at one, but gradually build up to a goal, taking one small step at a time.
    • Ditch unhelpful safety behaviours – Similarly, we often use safety behaviours in the short term to alleviate some of the anxiety we feel – avoidance, not making eye contact, hiding our face, not speaking etc. Some of these behaviours may only lead to feeling more self-conscious, which reinforces feelings of anxiety. Try to identify your own safety behaviours, and aim to reduce these, replacing them instead with more positive coping mechanisms like breathing techniques or grounding.
    • Seek Support – If you feel you need some support with social anxiety, help is available:
        • Practice the strategies mentioned above
        • Use self-help
        • Register at Big White Wall – here you can talk to others who may also be experiencing social anxiety and attend online anxiety workshops. Big White Wall is completely anonymous, available 24/7 and free for all Edge Hill Students
        • Book an appointment to speak to a GP about social anxiety
        • Book an appointment with the Student Wellbeing teamthey can offer a range of support including 1:1 wellbeing appointments, counselling and a range of workshops – the first step is to book an Initial Appointment: 
        • Complete a self-referral for NHS talking therapy in your area
        • Use a mental health helpline

Self-care at University

What is self-care?

The term self-care gets thrown around a lot. But what do we actually mean when we talk about self-care?

Self-care is defined as “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”.

Self-care is more than just behaviour – it is a mindset. It is a mindset of self-compassion and treating yourself like someone you care about. Actually wanting to take care of yourself is the first step.

Self-care then begins by creating the space for you to take care of you. This could be blocking out some time each day to do something that is good for us.

Self-care is always being there for ourselves, treating ourselves like we would someone we love, and making choices that increase our long-term emotional and physical health and sense of wellbeing.

This could be choosing to exercise, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, practicing relaxation techniques, spending time in nature, taking long walks, and engaging in and enjoying a variety of creative pursuits.

What self-care isn’t

There are myths that surround self-care. Are there any that you believed?

    • Self-care is a luxury Self care isn’t a luxury, it’s something that is essential for our mental health and wellbeing.
    • I don’t have time for self-careSelf-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time, even just giving yourself 10 minutes a day to get outside or breathe can be helpful. You can incorporate self-care into your usual daily routine such as by making healthier food choices or drinking water, without taking up any extra time.
    • Self-care is selfish Self-care isn’t selfish, in fact taking care of ourselves means we’re more able to help those around us and give back to others.
    • Self-care is all about yoga and green smoothies Self-care is different for every person, and is all about what enhances your individual wellbeing.
    • I do self-care by attending to my basic needs – Whilst attending to our basic needs is important, self-care is the active pursuit of wanting to look after ourselves, not just giving ourselves the minimum.
    • Self-care is all about the actions we take Self-care is more than this, it is the belief that we all deserve to look after ourselves as a priority.
    • Giving in to my wants such as eating junk food, retail therapy, procrastinating work is self-care – Whilst these things may feel good in the short term, self-care relates to things that are helpful to our health and wellbeing in the long term. (A bit of chocolate couldn’t hurt though right?)

Why does self-care matter?

    • We generally have an enhanced feeling of wellbeing when you take care of ourselves
    • We are better able to cope with life’s stressors when we take care of ourselves, meaning that stressors have less impact, leading to more resilience and improved stress management
    • The quality of our life and our relationships can often feel enhanced when we are looking after our own needs first.
    • Self-care is positively linked to improved physical health
    • Similarly to the benefit of resilience and better stress management, we are less likely to feel burnt out when taking care of ourselves.
    • Taking care of ourselves and spending time to meet our needs can actually make us more productive when it comes to working.
    • Ultimately, self-care means that we will be closer to our best – and therefore will be able to give more to things in our life
    • For more on why self-care is important, check out this page from Students Against Depression

How to self-care

Be Aware of Self-Care

The first step to better self-care is to be aware of your current self-care. Take some time to think about the things you do currently that are good for your wellbeing. Do you eat healthily, try to drink enough water, sleep enough, or is it that you have a hobby or see friends regularly? How do these things help you?

Check In with yourself

Step two is to get into the habit of checking in with yourself. It can be very easy to rush around doing all the things we feel we have to do, finding our own needs on the bottom of the pile time and time again. To change this, firstly just take a bit of time to pause and reflect. This could be something you fit in to your daily routine – your walk from the bus stop, when you’re brushing your teeth. Ask yourself, how are you feeling right now? What do you need?

What needs to improve?

Once you’ve done these things, begin to identify areas that may need improvement. Feeling tired? Maybe more sleep is needed. Feeling stressed? Things of things that might help you to problem solve, or relax.

Typical self-care activities include choosing to exercise, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, practicing relaxation techniques, spending time in nature, taking long walks, and engaging in and enjoying a variety of creative pursuits. 

While there are lots of suggestions out there on how to self-care, it is important to choose activities that are meaningful to yourself and your own goals. 

Create a Self-Care Plan 

    • To create your own self-care plan, select at least one strategy or activity that you can undertake for each category above. It is important to develop a self-care plan that is holistic and individual to you. 
    • Fill your self-care plan with activities that you enjoy and that support your wellbeing. Here are some suggestions
    • Keep your plan in a place where you can see it every day. Keeping it visible will help you to think about and commit to the strategies in your plan. You can also share it with your supervisor, colleagues, friends and family so they can support you in your actions. 
    • Stick to your plan and practice the activities regularly. Just like an athlete doesn’t become fit by merely ‘thinking’ about fitness, you can’t expect to perform effectively without putting into practice a holistic plan for your wellbeing. 
    • Re-assess how you are going at the end of one month and then three months. Plans can take over a month to become habits, so check-in and be realistic about your own self-care plan. After a while, come back and complete the self-care assessment again to find out how you are going with your new habits.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing

Research undertaken by the New Economics Foundation has identified 5 actions that can help to improve personal wellbeing. These are known as the Five Ways to Wellbeing:

  1. Connect
  2. Be active
  3. Take notice
  4. Keep learning
  5. Give

The five ways to wellbeing have been designed to help people to maintain and improve their wellbeing through easy and simple activities.

The NHS website has more information about the Five Ways to Wellbeing and suggestions on things you can try to help you improve your wellbeing.

Healthy eating

Heading off to university is an exciting time and it is easy to overlook some more practical aspects; like your diet and eating sensibly. The food you eat can have an impact on how your mind and body works, so a basic knowledge of how to eat healthily will help you get the most out of your university experience and create healthy lifetime eating habits.

When your day is packed with classes, assignments, and studying, not to mention a social life and maybe a job, who has time for healthy eating? While sometimes low on the list of your priorities, being smart about food has many benefits. Eating regularly and choosing healthy portions of nutritious foods means having more mental and physical energy, feeling good about yourself and enjoying better health. Here are the basics… 

Breakfast: Don’t leave home without it!

If you have been skipping breakfast because you don’t have time or aren’t hungry, you have been missing the day’s most important meal. While it’s tempting to get an extra ten minutes of sleep, not eating breakfast will cost you in other ways. Studies have shown that breakfast skippers have poorer concentration, more fatigue, less healthy weights, and eat less fibre and other needed nutrients. Eating within an hour of waking up jumpstarts your metabolism and provides the fuel you need to get through a busy morning.

No time is no excuse: 10-minute breakfast ideas

    • Cold cereal, milk, dried fruit
    • Frozen whole wheat waffles, yogurt
    • Leftover pizza and an apple
    • Whole wheat toast, cheddar cheese, orange juice
    • Instant oatmeal with raisins, almonds
    • Whole grain bagel, peanut butter, banana
    • Bran bar, chocolate milk, grapes
    • Yogurt topped with berries and granola
    • Sandwich with lean deli meat and cheese
    • Try a breakfast smoothie: Put fruit, yogurt, and juice or milk in a blender. Add a spoon or two of oats, bran cereal or ground flaxseed for more fibre. If you’re short on time, take it with you!

OK, you’ve eaten breakfast, now what?

Even if you can’t eat at the same time every day, be sure to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If there will be more than 4 hours between your meals, plan for a snack. Eating regularly keeps your blood sugar levels stable and prevents you from becoming ravenously hungry and filling up on less healthy foods. Carry backpack snacks for healthy eating on the go.

Backpack food stash ideas:

    • Fresh or dried fruit
    • Raw cut-up veggies
    • Whole grain crackers
    • High fibre cereal bars
    • Trail mix or nuts
    • Cheese
    • Yogurt 
    • Peanut butter sandwich
    • Vegetable or fruit juice
    • Refillable bottle of water 

Is late night snacking OK?

If you’re up late studying and feel tired and hungry, a nutritious energy-containing snack can be just what you need to perk you up. Be careful, though… late nights are a tempting time to indulge in cravings for salty, sugar or high fat treats that contain few nutrients. Better choices provide lasting brain fuel, like an apple with whole wheat toast and peanut butter or carrot sticks and whole grain crackers with hummus.

What makes a good meal or snack?   

Plan your meals around colourful veggies, fruits, and wholesome grains – nutritious energy-containing carbohydrates filled vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytochemicals which enhance and protect your health. Add protein- and iron-rich foods: lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, tofu and beans. Milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified soy drinks contribute protein and bone-building calcium.

Energizing study snacks:

    • Fresh fruit
    • Veggies and low-fat dip
    • Cheese
    • Light popcorn
    • Frozen or canned fruit
    • Individual cans of tuna
    • Hummus
    • Trail mix
    • Baked tortilla chips and salsa
    • Peanut butter
    • Whole grain crackers
    • Cottage cheese
    • Low sugar cereals
    • Yogurt
    • Chocolate milk

Think balance…

A balanced diet combines carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat and not only provides you with the nutrients you need to stay healthy but also helps to keep your energy levels up. 

The term balance also means complementing a less healthy meal or snack with nutritious choices the rest of the day. If you usually eat lots of fruit and veggies, whole grains, and lower fat protein-rich foods and milk products, then why not enjoy a chocolate bar or a couple of cookies? Go ahead and indulge in your favourite treats – just watch how much and how often!

Include healthy fats

If burgers, fries and deep-fried foods are staples in your diet, choose these foods less often. Eat foods that are grilled, baked, steamed or boiled and use small amounts of heart-healthy fats found in vegetable, olive and sunflower oils, non-hydrogenated margarine, salmon and other fish, peanut butter, nuts, and seeds.

What and how much should you eat?  

Energy needs depend on many factors including your age, body size, whether you’re male or female, and how active you are. This website can help you develop a personal healthy eating and physical activity pattern.

What about supplements?

Nothing can replace the benefits of eating a variety of healthy foods. You may choose to take a multivitamin supplement, but don’t take a large dose of any single nutrient without first getting advice from a knowledgeable health professional. 

What you drink counts, too!

Everyone needs fluids, but drinking too many fancy coffees, a lot of pop or even too much fruit juice can help pack on extra pounds. Alcohol also contains a lot of calories and overindulging may lead to other problems. 

Water is always a great choice and it’s free! Taking a refillable bottle with you and using the various water machines around campus is a great way to make sure you’re drinking enough. 

Choose a reusable bottle where you know how much water it contains, and therefore how many times you would need to refill this to drink your recommended 2 liters a day!  

Don’t like the taste of water? Try adding sliced lemon, cucumber or other fruit to your water for added flavor – the fruit slices can be reused all day and are a low cost, healthy alternative to juices.

More amazing trivia:

    • A 600mL bottle of cola contains 266 calories!
    • A large double-double coffee: 218 calories!
    • A medium (14oz) iced frappe: 350 calories!

Healthy eating doesn’t just happen

Old habits are easier to break when you make small, gradual changes. 

    • If your diet is low in veggies, start by adding 1 serving each day. 
    • If you’ve been skipping meals, rearrange your schedule. 
    • If you’re used to eating most meals out, learn how to cook some simple foods for yourself. 

No cookbooks needed…the internet is a great place to find easy, nutritious ideas (look for light or heart-healthy recipes). 

If you do dine out, go for healthier meals like wraps, salads, grilled foods and stir fries. Restaurant portions are often big, so think about sharing a meal with a friend or take the leftovers home and refrigerate for tomorrow’s lunch.

When you keep nutritious foods around, you’re more likely to eat them, so shop for groceries regularly. Take a few minutes to make a shopping list to help save time and money. Changing how you eat takes a bit of effort, but you’re worth it!

More questions on healthy eating?

Check out the NHS Eat Well pages for more information! 

Food and Drink on Campus

Wondering what food options are available on campus? Catering on campus is provided by our own in-house award-winning catering team, Food at Edge Hill. There are various outlets on campus offering a great variety of fresh and local food. All dining outlets are great social spaces in which to eat and also offer free WiFi access. For more information about on campus food, please visit our website.

The Students’ Union also manage the on-campus branch of SUBWAY.

Physical activity

Reasons to get active
There are many benefits to looking after your physical health.
Some things you might notice after taking up an activity include:

    • an improved mood and sense of wellbeing
    • a better night’s sleep
    • reduced stress or anxiety
    • healthier skin
    • the opportunity to socialise and meet new people

Long-term benefits

If you regularly take part in some sort of activity, some of the longer-term benefits can include:

    • increased energy and motivation
    • improved academic performance
    • improved strength and fitness levels
    • reduced chances of heart disease, diabetes or a stroke
    • increased resilience for dealing with stressful situations

Performing well in your studies

When you’re feeling stressed about your academic work or exams it’s understandable to think that you don’t have the time or energy to for exercise. However, taking some time to be active is a worthwhile investment as it is known to reduce stress levels and boost academic performance and energy.

Mood and Stress Levels:

    • Low to moderate intensity exercise reduces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
    • Within 30 minutes of beginning exercise endorphins are release, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers.

Brain functioning: 
The beneficial effects of exercise on brain function have been demonstrated in a growing number of clinical studies on humans.

    • Exercise increases the blood flow around the body, including the brain. Because more blood means more energy and oxygen, it can help you to think more clearly. Even 20-minute walk can clear the mind and reduce stress levels.
    • Exercise activates the hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for learning and memory and can even lead to the growth of new brain cells (neurons).
    • Exercise increases neurotransmitter levels, enhancing communication between neurons
      Research shows that these effects result in improved mental functioning, higher energy and better concentration levels. All these factors can have a positive effect on academic performance.

How to get started

Whether you’ve done much exercise before or not, university is the perfect time to get started with a whole range of ways to get fit and active.

While it can be challenging at first, it will become both rewarding and enjoyable quickly if you stick at it.

Edge Hill Sports

Edge Hill Sport provides a focus for all sports, fitness and leisure activities on campus.

There really is something for everyone regardless of your sporting ability or motivations. Whether you are an elite athlete; want to play in a university sports team; you just wnt to keep fit, try new activities and have an occasional social game with friends; the facilities at Edge Hill will enable you to do just that.

Edge Hill Sports offer students a range of student memberships at a great price, which can include access to the fitness suite, exercise classes and swimming pool. See our membership options.

Sleep

For most of us, sleep is normal, and something we take for granted. However, sometimes; for a variety of reasons; we cannot sleep which can be distressing. When we are under stress, such as at exam time, we need more sleep but sometimes the anxiety we are feeling can disturb our sleep pattern.

Other things which can disturb our sleep are:

  • Too much noise
  • Uncomfortable temperature of bed
  • irregular routines
  • Too little exercise
  • Eating too much makes it difficult to get off to sleep
  • Eating too little can lead to early waking
  • Cigarettes, alcohol, drinks containing caffeine such as tea and coffee will also disturb sleep

We all need a different amount of sleep, traditionally eight hours a night for an adult, decreasing as we get older. Some people can function very well on a little sleep.

If you wake up feeling aware, refreshed and energised you are getting the right amount of sleep for you. Some people can work best during the night, others need to stop early.

You need to become aware of what suits you and try to prevent working beyond your productive limits.

Tips for better sleep:

  • Try not to worry about how much sleep you are getting.
  • Leave yourself plenty of time to relax before bed. Develop a bedtime routine: a warm bath or shower; a hot milky drink or herbal tea such as camomile; a period of quietness can all help you to relax.
  • Eat light meals in the evening and try not to eat for two hours before going to bed.
  • Cut down of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Exercise regularly but not immediately before going to bed.
  • Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  • Don’t go to bed if you aren’t tired.
  • Make sure your bed and bedroom are warm and quiet.
  • If you’ve had a bad night resist the temptation to sleep the next day – it will make it harder to sleep the following night.
  • If something is troubling you and there is nothing you can do there and then try writing it down before you go to bed and tell yourself, you will deal with it tomorrow. Try and find someone you can trust to talk over your worries during the day.
  • If you can’t sleep get up, read, watch TV or listen to quiet music until you feel tired. Everyone has their own way of clearing their minds of worries prior to sleep.
  • Mind clearing – imagining a black velvet theatre curtain coming done and blocking busy thoughts.
  • Mentally write out your worries on a whiteboard and then slowly and deliberately wipe them off.
  • Lie on your back and count backwards from 100, visualising each number
  • Recall the day moment to moment but in reverse: the last thing you did to getting up.

Managing stress

Stress is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. Previously stress has been a useful response to potential danger, activating our flight or fight response by the release of adrenaline, which was essential for survival.

In everyday life, stress is unavoidable. Stress can be positive, motivating us to achieve things, and can help us meet the demands of home, work and family life.

However too much stress can affect our mood, our body and our relationships – especially when it feels out of our control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable, and affect our self-esteem.

Causes of stress

Stress affects people differently, and the things that cause stress vary from person to person.

The level of stress you are comfortable with may be higher or lower than that of other people around you. Stressful feelings typically happen when we feel we do not have the resources to manage the challenges we face.

Pressure at work, university or home, illness, or difficult or sudden life events can all lead to stress.

Signs of stress

If you are stressed, you may:

  • Feel overwhelmed
  • Have racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating
  • Be irritable
  • Feel constantly worried, anxious or scared
  • Feel a lack of self-confidence
  • Have trouble sleeping or feel tired all the time
  • Avoid things or people you are having problems with
  • Be eating more or less than usual
  • Drink or smoke more than usual

Stress bucket

A good way to think of stress is to imagine there’s a bucket you carry with you which slowly fills up when you experience different types of stress. Sometimes you feel strong enough to carry a lot of stress, and other times, we may feel that even a little stress is too much. Either way, it’s important to find activities which help you lighten the load.

If you have positive ways of coping with stress, such as good self-care, friendships, using relaxation techniques or problem solving, then the tap on your stress bucket will work allowing stress to flow out before your bucket gets too full.

If you don’t have any positive coping mechanisms or use unhelpful coping mechanisms like avoidance, drinking, eating junk food, spending excessive money, then this is like the tap on the stress bucket not working, and so it gradually fills with stress until the bucket overflows and we can no longer cope with the stress.

Therefore it is crucial to be aware of our own stress levels, the things that lead us to feeling stress, and how we can positively cope with stress.

Want to create your own stress bucket? Complete the worksheet here.

Coping with stress

Here are top tips from the NHS on how to cope with stress:

      1. Split up big tasks – If a task seems overwhelming and difficult to start, try breaking it down into easier chunks and give yourself credit for completing them
      2. Allow yourself some positivity – Take time to think about the good things in your life. Each day, consider what went well and try to list 3 things you’re thankful for.
      3. Challenge unhelpful thoughts – The way we think affects the way we feel. Watch our video to learn how to challenge unhelpful thoughts.
      4. Be more active – Being active can help you to burn off nervous energy. It will not make your stress disappear, but it can make it less intense. Take a look at some Home workout videos
      5. Talk to someone – Trusted friends, family and colleagues, or contacting a helpline, can help us when we are struggling.
      6. Plan ahead – Planning out any upcoming stressful days or events – a to-do list, the journey you need to do, things you need to take – can really help.
      7. Practice self care – At times of stress its crucial to make sure you are taking care of yourself, including trying to eat healthily and regularly, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep. Crucially it’s important to be self-compassionate during times of stress and to create some time for you to reflect and unwind.
      8. Seek support – If you feel you need some support with stress, help is available:
          • Register at Togetherall – here you can access peer support and attend online self-help workshops. Togetherall is completely anonymous, available 24/7 and free for all Edge Hill students
          • Book an appointment with the Student Wellbeing team – they can offer a range of support including 1:1 wellbeing appointments, counselling and a range of workshops – the first step is to book an Initial Appointment
          • Use a mental health helpline

Mental health

What is mental health

Mental health is an integral and essential component of health. In many ways, mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it.

Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through period of poor mental health you might find the ways you’re frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.

Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (Mind, 2020)

Personal Resilience

What is resilience?

Emotional resilience refers to one’s ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises.More resilient people are able to “roll with the punches” and adapt to adversity without lasting difficulties; less resilient people have a harder time with stress and life changes, both major and minor. Resilience can also be seen as a person’s ability to “bounce back” after facing difficulty.

Why is resilience important?

Life can be full of unexpected challenges and that is something that we cannot always control. Whilst we may not be able to control the situation itself, we can always control how we react to the situation.

If we choose to perceive the situation negatively, we often then feel negative and this leads to negative thoughts, and sometimes negative behaviours. For example, you may wake up at the weekend to find that it is raining on one of your only days off.

Whilst we can’t change the weather, there are two ways we can handle this situation.

The first is to see this as a negative and to focus on all the things you cannot do, like going outside, and this may result in feeling negative and trapped. This negative perception of the weather could then impact the rest of your day, for example you may anticipate that anything you do will be unenjoyable compared to if it was a sunny day, and therefore you may not even try to do things you enjoy, and think “what’s the point?”.

Alternatively, you could see the rainy day as a positive. In spite of the fact that you cannot go outside, you may decide it’s a good opportunity to stay inside and watch movies all day, or even just listen to the sounds of the rain as a way of relaxing. This may then lead you to feel happier and calmer, and you still enjoy the day, even though it wasn’t what you expected it to be.

Mindset can really influence a lot of how we feel, what we think and what we do. The question is, if we know that negative perception can be so unhelpful, why do we do it?

Negative bias

The negativity bias, also known as the negativity effect, is the idea that things of a more negative nature have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things, even if they are actually equal in intensity.

As humans, we tend to:

    • Remember traumatic experiences better than positive ones
    • Recall insults better than praise
    • React more strongly to negative stimuli
    • Think about negative things more frequently than positive ones
    • Respond more strongly to negative events than to equally positive ones

This bias toward the negative leads you to pay much more attention to the bad things that happen, making them seem much more important than they really are.

At one point in time, this negative bias would have been an essential skill for survival – allowing us to be aware of any potential threats. However in modern society, there is much less of a need for this, and often this negative bias can be detrimental for our stress levels and wellbeing.

Unhelpful Thinking Habits

There are actually a number of key negative biases that we use. These are known as unhelpful thinking styles, and they often create the thoughts that lead to negative feelings and behaviours. Everyone uses these during their lives, particularly in times of stress, and they can become our automatic response or habits.

Here are 10 types of unhelpful thinking styles. Do you recognise any of these?

    1. Labelling
      Forming a negative judgement based on just a few qualities and then assigning labels to ourselves or others. “I made a mistake. I’m so stupid.”
    2. All or Nothing thinking
      Placing people or situations into either/or categories. There is no middle ground. “If I’m not perfect, I have failed.”
    3. Disqualifying the Positive
      Focusing on the negative by discounting good things that have happened. “That doesn’t count/She just said that to be nice.”
    4. Catastrophizing
      Magnifying small negative incidents or minimizing positive events. “Now I’m going to fail my course, not get a degree, and never get a job I want.”
    5. Mental Filter
      Only focusing on the negative details while filtering out the positive aspects. “I got two points of negative feedback on my last assignment. I’m terrible at university.”
    6. Overgeneralization
      Making a pattern out of a single experience or making overly-broad conclusions based on a piece of evidence. “Everything is always rubbish/ Nothing good ever happens.”
    7. Jumping to Conclusions
      Mind reading – Imagining that we know what others are thinking, “they think I’m boring”. Also, predicting future outcomes “They aren’t going to like me.”
    8. Shoulds and Musts
      Using words like “should” or “must” to enforce ideas or rules for behaviour. “I should be getting firsts.” These can make us feel guilty or like we have already failed.
    9. Emotional Reasoning
      Assuming that feelings reflect fact about self or a situation. “I feel ugly, therefore I must actually be ugly.” “I feel stupid, so I must be an idiot”.
    10. Personalization
      Blaming yourself for something that is not within your control. Also, blaming others for something that was one’s fault. “If only I didn’t leave the house at that time, this wouldn’t have happened.”

If you did notice that you use some of these unhelpful thinking styles, don’t worry. The best part about realising we use unhelpful thinking styles is that this is the first step to becoming more resilient.

How are you resilient?

Think back to a time in your life where you had a problem or challenge that you overcame. How did you do this?

The truth is we are all actually more resilient than we realise, as we have all already had to overcome obstacles, no matter how small. This could have been learning to navigate school life, starting a new college, making friends, or coping with getting negative feedback. You may have needed to reach out and seek support from friends, family or teachers, or even just learn how to channel negative feelings into something positive, by doing something creative, listening to music or raising awareness about an issue.

Thinking back, it is usually in the most difficult situations that we grow the most as people. Take some time to think back to some of the ways you have solved problems previously, and remember that even if you haven’t used these in a while, you do have skills and resources to help you if you come across challenges.

How can you improve your resilience?

The good news is that resilience is a skill that can be built upon, no matter what your current levels are resilience are.

Here are some top tips for building your resilience:

    1. Be aware – Have an awareness of your resilience level as it is. Do you only focus on the negatives? Do you try to resolve problems you face? Think about which areas of resilience you would like to improve on. You can begin by completing a resilience self-assessment
    2. Expect challenges – Part of being resilient is to accept that challenges are part of life and that they are likely to happen. Once you begin to expect that things may not always go smoothly, you are that bit more prepared to cope when issues arise
    3. Reframe negative thoughts – When you encounter challenges, don’t let that negative bias be the only way you see a situation. Ask yourself if are there any positive’s that you are overlooking? Check to see if you are using any of the unhelpful thinking habits we mentioned above. Challenge those negative thoughts to identify more balanced thoughts. Try to see any issues that arise as a “challenge” not problem, or any negative feedback as a learning opportunity, not a failure. A great way to reframe thoughts is to ask yourself – what would I say to a friend in this situation? We are often great at giving advice to others, so why not try to apply this to yourself.
    4. Problem Solving – If you encounter a problem, aim to identify if this is something that is within your control.If it is, try to think about some positive actions you can take in response to the situation. You can do this by mindmapping as many solutions you can think of, even if they aren’t completely thought through. At the end of this you can pick the best solutions to carry out.If you identify that the problem is outside of your control, then try to acknowledge that no amount of stress or worry is going to be helpful. Each time you notice the problem beginning to take over, remind yourself that it is outside of your control and push the problem away. Sometimes the use of distractions can help us to do this.
    5. Manage your emotions – Okay so even if we re-frame our thoughts and problem solve, we still have emotional reactions to situations that arise. For example, we may acknowledge that we are not a failure after making a mistake, and have a plan for next time, however we may still feel down or frustrated.Emotions are completely normal and are part of every experience. We are human, not robots, and so it’s important to acknowledge and accept our emotions. Practice identifying what the emotion is that you are feeling, and try not to judge yourself for your emotions – just accept them.
    6. Practice mindfulness – A skill that can help you to practice acknowledging your emotions without judgement is Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the skill of attending to the present moment and noticing ourselves – how we feel, what we are thinking and the things that are around us. A key concept of mindfulness is acceptance. Practice mindfulness by spending 10 minutes a day sitting and just noticing all the different feelings and thoughts that come into your head. Try not to judge yourself for anything, just acknowledge what they are.Acknowledging our emotions means that we become more self-aware of our emotional reactions. It also means that we are better able to separate our emotions from our thoughts “I’m not an idiot, I’m just feeling frustrated about that low mark”, and also that we can then choose healthy strategies to manage them, “I’m going to listen to some music and go for a walk to clear my head”
    7. Identify your emotional coping mechanism – Think of some the various emotions that you might experience: sadness, anger, worry, stress. Now think about a few things that help each of those emotions.
        • When you are sad, try to think of ways that you might comfort yourself, or cheer yourself up. You may find watching your favourite film, wrapping yourself in a blanket, having a warm drink or watching funny videos all help you to feel better.
        • For worry, try to carry out calming activities such as listening to calm music, taking a warm bath or shower or talking things through with a friend. It can also be good to ask yourself if your worry is something that you can control or not. If it’s within your control, try to problem solve and think of some positive actions. If not, remind yourself that it is out of control and try some distraction techniques like watching a film or listening to music.
        • If you feel angry, it might be a good idea to do some physical activity or do something creative to express how you feel. After doing this you may find some of the calming activities mentioned above helpful too.
        • For stress, it could be helpful to write tasks down so they do not seem so overwhelming, or do some problem solving as we discussed above, or just make some time for self-care.The strategies you use are unique to you – try and test a variety of techniques to find the ones that work for you. Eventually you will have an array of healthy ways to cope with your emotions.

Seek support – Our support networks are key in feeling resilient to managing life stress; even just knowing that we are not alone in anything that we are facing can be reassuring, and make the stress we feel less intense. Building good support networks can take time, but are really valuable. You may already have people in your life that you feel you could turn to if you needed. If not, it is never too late to meet new people and to start to build those connections. It could be those people are already there, and you just need to take the first step in talking about how you feel.If you feel you are not ready to open up to others personally, know that there is always support available at university. This could be in the form of lecturers, your personal tutor or some of the teams in student services, such as wellbeing, counselling and chaplaincy.There are also lots of other ways to connect to others and seek support – such as Togetherall, or take a look at the student wellbeing webpages.

Positive Psychology
Another great way to offset the negativity bias that we often experience is to actively try to focus on the positive more. Positive psychology is all about the study of the positive aspects of the human experience. If you want to bring a bit more positivity into your life, then try some of the below strategies:

1. Gratitude
Often negativity arises when we think about the things we are not happy with. Therefore, a great way of injecting some positivity is to think about the things we are thankful for. Although we know the things we are thankful for are important, we often overlook them or begin to expect them.

Tip: Take some time each day to think about 3 things that you are thankful for – try to build this into your routine, for example, on your walk home, or whilst you are brushing your teeth.

Tip: Say a little thank you to someone in your life – this could be a verbal thank you, or any little gesture that shows your appreciation – and bonus – you will be spreading some of that positivity by doing this too!

Tip: Keep a gratitude journal – A great way to build on tip number 1 is to write down your daily gratitude for a week or two. After this, take a little look back and see all the positives you have, and all the things to be thankful for. This could be especially good to look back on when things seem negative and difficult.

2. Kindness
As we have acknowledged, negativity often leads to critical and judgmental thoughts about ourselves or others. Try to counteract this by actively being kind to yourself and others, as this can really create a positive change.

Tip: Self-kindness – Try to practice self-kindness once a day. This could be by starting your day with a positive affirmation “you can do this”, talking to yourself in an empathetic way if things go wrong, or creating some time for self-care.

Tip: Small acts of kindness – Think about some small gestures that you can make to share a bit of kindness with others – a small thank you, some positive feedback or a compliment, you can even think about participating in a “pay it forward” scheme, donating money or goods to charity, or volunteering your time to someone in need.

3. Optimism
One of the best and most direct ways to tackle that negativity is to challenge it directly, and practice a bit of optimism!

Tip: For every negative, think of two positives! Okay so this one sounds a bit silly, but the saying really is true – for every cloud there is a silver lining (or two if you really think about it!). Try to think if there are any positive aspects when you encounter challenges. For example, have you learnt how to overcome an issue, or had a new experience?

4. Strength
We all have a variety of skills and strengths, but when we’re feeling negative it can be difficult to acknowledge these, which can lead us to feeling worse. Take some action and try to actively acknowledge what makes you great.

Tip: Think of 3 strengths a day – As with the gratitude, create some time within your daily routine to think about 3 things that you have done well that day. Is it that you tried your best? Or that you made someone else happy? Maybe you tried something new, even though you felt nervous. Instead of just focusing on what could be better, take time to acknowledge your strengths and positives.

Action for happiness
For more ideas on how to incorporate more happiness into your life, take a look at the Action for Happiness website. They create monthly calendars that you can print or download with daily tips for living a happier life!

 

Worry and anxiety

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, like a worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, such as before public speaking, or a job interview, and it usually passes once the situation is over.

Worry and anxiety can make our heart race, and we might feel sweaty, shaky or short of breath. Anxiety can also cause changes in our behaviour, such as becoming overly careful or avoiding things that trigger anxiety.

When anxiety becomes a problem, our worries can be magnified, even if the situation is relatively harmless. Things may feel more intense or overwhelming, and interfere with our everyday lives and relationships.

Signs of anxiety

Anxiety can show in a variety of ways. This can be as changes in your body, in being constantly worried or changes in your behaviour, such as becoming overly careful or avoiding things that trigger anxiety.

You may:

    • feel tired, on edge, restless or irritable
    • feel a sense of dread
    • be unable to concentrate or make decisions
    • have trouble sleeping
    • feel sick, dizzy, sweaty or short of breath
    • be shaky or trembly
    • get headaches or tummy aches
    • avoid situations or put off doing things you are worried about
    • have difficulty falling or staying asleep
    • experience panic attacks
    • experience a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat
    • have pins and needles
    • have a dry mouth
    • sweat excessively
    • repeatedly check things or seek assurance from others

Top tips to cope with anxiety

      • Understand your anxiety – Try keeping a diary of what you are doing and how you feel at different times to help identify what’s affecting you and what you need to take action on
      • Challenge your anxious thoughts – Tackling unhelpful thoughts is one of the best things we can do to feel less anxious. Watch the NHS video to find out more
      • Make time for worries – If your worry feels overwhelming and takes over your day, setting specific “worry time” to go through your concerns each day can help you to focus on other things. Watch the NHS video for more advice – Tackle your worries video
      • Shift your focus – Some people find relaxation, mindfulness, grounding or breathing exercises helpful. They reduce tension and focus our awareness on the present moment. Try NHS-recommended relaxation exercises
      • Face the things you want to avoid – It’s easy to avoid situations, or rely on habits that make us feel safer, but these can keep anxiety going. By slowly building up time in worrying situations, anxious feelings will gradually reduce and you will see these situations are OK.
      • Get to grips with the problem – When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, it can help to use a problem-solving technique to identify some solutions. This can make the challenges you’re facing feel more manageable. If you find your anxiety is specific to social situations, take a look at ourtips on managing social anxiety

Seek support – If you feel you need some support with anxiety, help is available:

Low mood

What is low mood?

Everyone can feel low or down from time to time. It does not always mean something is wrong. Feeling low is common, particularly after distressing events or major life changes, but sometimes periods of low mood happen for no obvious reason.

You may feel tired, lacking confidence, frustrated, angry and worried. Usually, low mood will often pass after a couple of days or weeks – and there are some easy things you can try and small changes you can make that will usually help improve your mood.

Signs of low mood
You may feel:

  • sad
  • tired
  • a lack of self-confidence
  • irritable
  • angry
  • not interested in things

Or you might notice you start:

  • withdrawing from your usual activities, particularly ones you used to enjoy or value
  • spending less time with those you care about
  • having trouble sleeping
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate on things

How to improve low mood?

  • Increase helpful activity – Low mood can stop us doing important or enjoyable activities. Try listing these things and doing some each day. Start with easier ones and, as you progress, your mood should improve.
  • Challenge unhelpful thoughts – The way we think affects the way we feel. Watch the NHS video to learn how to challenge unhelpful thoughts – Reframing unhelpful thoughts video
  • Talk to someone – Trusted friends, family and colleagues, or contacting a helpline, can help us when we are struggling. Watch the NHS video for more ideas – Social connection video
  • Get better sleep – Low moods can make us feel tired. Tiredness can also have a bad impact on our mood. Watch the NHS video on tips to improve your sleep – Tips for sleeping better video
  • Be kind to yourself – Try to break big tasks down into manageable chunks, and do not try to do everything at once. Give yourself credit when you complete each bit.
  • Healthy living – Being active, cutting back on alcohol and making sure we have a healthy balanced diet can help boost your mood, and help our wellbeing. See our self-care section

Seek Support – If you feel you need some support with low mood, help is available:

Self-esteem

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves.

When we have healthy self-esteem, we tend to feel positive about ourselves and about life in general. It makes us better able to deal with life’s ups and downs.

When our self-esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and our life in a more negative and critical light. We also feel less able to take on the challenges that life throws at us.

What are the signs of low self-esteem?

If you have low self-esteem or confidence, you may hide yourself away from social situations, stop trying new things, and avoid things you find challenging.

In the short term, avoiding challenging and difficult situations might make you feel safe.

In the longer term, this can backfire because it reinforces your underlying doubts and fears. It teaches you the unhelpful rule that the only way to cope is by avoiding things.

Living with low self-esteem can harm your mental health and lead to problems such as depression and anxiety.

How to develop a health self-esteem

    • Recognise what you’re good at – We’re all good at something, whether it’s cooking, singing, doing puzzles or being a friend. We also tend to enjoy doing the things we’re good at, which can help boost your mood.
    • Build positive relationships – If you find certain people tend to bring you down, try to spend less time with them, or tell them how you feel about their words or actions. Try to build relationships with people who are positive and who appreciate you.
    • Be kind to yourself – Being kind to yourself means being gentle to yourself at times when you feel like being self-critical. Think what you’d say to a friend in a similar situation. We often give far better advice to others than we do to ourselves.
    • Learn to be assertive – Being assertive is about respecting other people’s opinions and needs, and expecting the same from them. One trick is to look at other people who act assertively and copy what they do.
    • Start saying “no” – People with low self-esteem often feel they have to say yes to other people, even when they do not really want to. The risk is that you become overburdened, resentful, angry and depressed. For the most part, saying no does not upset relationships. It can be helpful to keep saying no, but in different ways, until they get the message.
    • Give yourself a challenge – We all feel nervous or afraid to do things at times. But people with healthy self-esteem do not let these feelings stop them trying new things or taking on challenges. Set yourself a goal, such as joining an exercise class or going to a social occasion. Achieving your goals will help to increase your self-esteem.

Seek Support – If you feel you need some support with self-esteem, help is available:

Mental health conditions

During this section, we have talked about a range of emotions and experiences which we can all experience from time to time. However if you find any of these feelings to be persistent or severe it could be worth speaking to a GP about how you are feeling, as it may be that you’re experiencing a mental health condition such as Anxiety or Depression. A diagnosis may enable you to ensure you are accessing the most appropriate treatment and support.

Existing Mental Health Conditions

If you have an existing mental health condition, it is important to let us know about this in advance of starting university, so that we can ensure the appropriate support is in place for you. To inform us, either let us know during the application process, or contact the inclusion team.

Inclusion

We encourage disabled applicants to make contact with the Inclusion Team to enable them to plan for support you may need right from start of your university course. Their highly experienced team are here to advise you about:

  • Impact of disability/health condition and potential impact on study
  • Support available including 1-1 sessions, group support and study skills sessions
  • The benefits of a Student Support Plan
  • Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) and eligibility
  • Reasonable adjustments to support your study
  • Exam modifications and alternative assessments
  • Rights and Responsibilities
  • Support whilst on placement (e.g. access and transport)
  • Disclosure and Confidentiality
  • Adapted rooms on campus,
  • Rights and Responsibilities
  • PEEPs and Emergency Action Plans

For more information about the inclusion team see their webpages

For telephone appointments with the Inclusion team please email inclusionteam@edgehill.ac.uk

Transferring your GP or specialist support team

If you do have an existing mental health team or are accessing any support for your mental health via your at home GP, it could be worth speaking to your current care team about finishing your support before you start university, or transferring your care to an equivalent service local to Edge Hill. We recommend for every student to register at a GP service local to university, and this is particularly the case if you see your GP regularly. The GP service we recommend for students is Beacon Primary Care.

We will be updating you over the coming weeks on your lead up to university to help you know what to expect and how to prepare. In the meantime, check out the Student Mind’s guide to preparing for university.

Healthcare

Changing your GP

If you’re moving away from home to live closer to university, we strongly encourage that you register with a GP service in your area of residence as soon as possible.

Beacon Primary Care is a local practice and has a site situated on Railway Road in Ormskirk. The practice deliver a variety of enhanced services such as walk in clinics, scans, tests and contraceptive services.

For more information about Beacon Primary Care, and for information on the advantages of registering and how to do this, please take a look at the Beacon Primary Care website which can be found here.

Alternatively, you will be able to find your nearest GP practice by going to the NHS website which can be found here. You will then need to enter the postcode in which you reside during your studies into the search bar.

There are significant benefits to registering with a local GP at the beginning of your studies such as:

  • Easy access for general and emergency appointments
  • Easy access to prescribed medications and repeat prescriptions
  • Up to date records of medical history and previous treatments
  • Ability to request medical letters if required

Support for arranging and attending a GP appointment

We know that it can be difficult to talk to people when you’re having difficulties with your mental health.

Doc Ready is a website that can help you get ready for the first time you visit a doctor to discuss your mental health.

Using the website you are able to build a check list of what you want to discuss and read information about what to expect from an appointment. You can access the website here.

Covid-19

For the latest information and guidance about Covid-19 please take a look at the NHS webpages.

For more information about Covid-19 and Edge Hill, take a look at our webpage.

If you are struggling with the impact of Covid-19 on your wellbeing, or just want some advice regarding about looking after yourself, there are lots of resources available on our Covid-19 wellbeing pages.

Transferring mental health support

Transferring specialist support
If you are under the care of a mental health team at home, it is important to let them know in advance that you are intending to move away for university.

This is to ensure that any planned care is not impacted by your move to university and alternative arrangements can be made. For example, if you are receiving a therapeutic intervention via your GP, it may be that you and your therapist are able to complete this before you leave for university.

However if your mental health difficulties are more longstanding and you are receiving longer term support from a community psychiatric nurse (CPN) or psychiatrist, you care team may need to transfer your care to an equivalent service that is more local to where you will be moving to.

If this does happen, your new team should contact you to arrange an appointment. However if this does not happen, please get in touch with the Wellbeing team (studentwellbeing@edgehill.ac.uk) and they will look to support you to access the correct support to ensure you are fully supported during your time at Edge Hill.

West Lancashire Walk in Centre (Ormskirk Walk-in Centre)

West Lancashire Walk in Centre at Ormskirk Hospital is open every day of the year including public holidays for people needing urgent help with minor illnesses or injuries. Due to Covid, the Walk in Centre is currently only taking appointments.

*Please check the website for more information and updates.
The walk- in centre can help with:

  • Sore throats
  • Ear problems
  • Coughs and colds
  • Chest infections
  • Cystitis and urinary infections
  • Skin rashes
  • DVT (blood clot in the leg – certain exclusion criteria apply)
  • Skin infections
  • Simple fractures / sprains
  • Insect and animal bites
  • Minor burns & scalds
  • Minor cuts and wounds
  • Emergency contraception

The centre cannot provide routine GP services such as chronic disease management e.g. diabetes, blood pressure monitoring etc or routine referrals to consultant.

West Lancashire Walk in Centre,
Ormskirk District General Hospital,
Wigan Road,
Ormskirk,
West Lancashire
L39 2AZ

t: 0300 247 0011
e: vcl.westlancs-spa@nhs.net

On-campus first aid

Campus Support

Providing a safe, secure and welcoming environment remains one of Edge Hill’s main priorities.

Campus support are trained in both physical and mental health first aid, and are available 24/7 to respond to any first aid requests rapidly.

This helps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all of our students, staff, visitors and partners during their time here.

Pharmacies

What can pharmacies help me with?

As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.

If symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure you get the help you need. For example they will tell you if you need to see a GP.

Many pharmacies are open until late and at weekends. You don’t need an appointment – you can just walk in. Most pharmacies have a private consultation room where you can discuss issues with pharmacy staff without being overheard (NHS 2019).

Local pharmacies

Alternatively, find a pharmacy near you by searching your postcode on the NHS website.

NHS 111

What is NHS 111?

NHS 111 is a 24/7 online and telephone service that will assess your problem or healthcare need, and advise you on self-care or direct you to the local service that can best help you. The local service could be a pharmacist, dentist, doctor, NHS walk-in centre, or the hospital Accident & Emergency department.

How can I access NHS 111?

  1. You can access the NHS 111 service by going to the NHS 111 website and completing their online questionnaire
  2. By calling 111 via the telephone

How NHS 111 works
You answer questions about your symptoms on the website, or by speaking to a fully trained adviser on the phone.

You can ask for a translator if you need one.

Depending on the situation you’ll:

  • find out what local service can help you
  • be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  • get a face-to-face appointment if you need one
  • be told how to get any medicine you need
  • get self-care advice

NHS 111 is for non-life threatening, urgent support. For more information on when to access what levels of service please see the page “How do I choose the right service?”

Accident and Emergency Departments

Hospital accident and emergency departments are for people with serious injuries or illness, or life-threatening emergencies such as severe chest pains, breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness or bleeding that can’t be stopped.

For patients 16 years and older, the Accident and Emergency department at Southport and Formby District General Hospital is open 24 hours a day seven days a week for serious injuries or illness and life-threatening conditions that cannot be dealt with by your pharmacist, GP or at a NHS walk-in centre.

Southport A&E is the nearest A&E to campus:
Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust
Southport and Formby District General Hospital
Town Lane, Kew
Southport
Merseyside,
PR8 6PN
Tel: Switchboard | 01704 547471

To locate your nearest A&E department, look here.

How do I choose the right service?

Are you unsure of the appropriate level of healthcare response is? Take a look at the below, in order to know what conditions require which level of service.

Choosing the right service

Dentist

Registering with a dentist

Dental examinations are available at Ravat and Ray Dental Practice based in the West Lancashire Health Centre, Ormskirk District General Hospital – to make an appointment ring: 01695 578019

NHS dental treatment is free for people under 18 (19 if in full time education). Evidence of exemption must be brought with you to each dental appointment.

Opticians

Our eyes rarely hurt when something is wrong with them, so having regular eye tests is important to help detect potentially harmful conditions.

The NHS recommends that you should get your eyes tested every two years (more often if advised by your ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist).

An NHS sight (eye) test is free of charge if you are aged 18 and under and in full time education.

For more information about what services an optician may offer, and for information on what to expect during an eye test please visit the NHS website.

To find an opticians near to your university accommodation, please input your post code in the search bar on the NHS website.

Sexual health

Hants Lane offer full sexual health screening services for under 25s which are confidential and will not appear on your NHS record. There is no examination required.

Skelmersdale NHS Walk-in Centre is located in the Concourse and provides sexual health services for under 25s.

To book an appointment at either clinic or to find a sexual health service in your area visit this website.

Beacon Primary Care also provide a range of sexual health services. For more information visit their website.

You can find out about the 15 methods of contraception that are available on the NHS, together with where to get them and how to decide which method might work best for you.

Vaccinations

Public Health England provide advice and guidance to young people starting University about the vaccinations needed. There is a range of information available on the Public Health England webpages.

Have you been vaccinated against Meningitis and Measles? Find out more below.

MenACWY vaccination
If you have received this vaccine from your GP before coming to University or in a previous year there is no need to have this again. You may have had a MenC vaccination as a baby and again more recently but this will not protect you against other meningococcal groups.

The MenACWY vaccine will increase your protection against MenC and help to protect them against three other meningococcal groups (A, W and Y). The advice is to have MenACWY if you have not previously received it even if you have been vaccinated against MenC.

If you did not get this vaccine before starting university you need to contact your local GP and ask them for this as soon as possible (preferably in the first few weeks of term).

Meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning). Both diseases are very serious and can kill, especially if not diagnosed early.

The early symptoms of meningococcal disease are similar to those of flu, so students need to be able to recognise the symptoms very quickly (even if they have been vaccinated, the vaccines offered through the routine immunisation programme do not protect against all forms of the disease).

A full description of the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can be found at www.meningitis.org and www.meningitisnow.org.

Older students are at greatest risk of the MenW meningococcal disease, especially when starting university where they will come into contact with many new people of a similar age, so they will need to get vaccinated to protect themselves.

Vaccination also reduces the risk of them carrying the bacteria and so protects other people. This should, in turn, prevent the numbers increasing to serious levels. It is still important to know the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia because there are many other bacteria that can also cause these illnesses, including the group B strain that is not covered by this vaccination.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella
Public Health England (PHE) is also reminding young people to make sure they are vaccinated against measles after new cases were reported across England. Young people who are unsure if they have been fully vaccinated should check with their GP and make an appointment to ensure they receive the 2 doses of MMR vaccine required. More information about measles and the MMR Vaccine can be found on this Public Health England leaflet.

Support

Your personal tutor

You will be allocated your own Personal Tutor who has two distinct and equally important aspects to the role:

  1. Academic guidance to enable students to make the most of your time at EHU and fully develop your ‘personal capital’. Your time at University is a very important part of your personal development: it influences and changes the way you think about your subject and the world in general. You gain new skills and knowledge, and develop your abilities, questioning your own, and others’ attitudes. Sometimes you can get preoccupied with details of academic work in modules, but it is very important that you see the wider picture of your development, and actively plan to take advantage of everything University offers. This will be valuable to you, not least when it comes to starting or continuing your career.
  2. Pastoral guidance and referral for students to ensure appropriate and rapid resolution of problems and smooth transitions. Your Personal Tutor will help you to understand the support that is available through Student, Careers and Learning Services and also act as an advocate to help you navigate the complexities of the university systems. Your Tutor might also direct you to the Students’ Union Advice Centre where assistance is also available, especially in the case where you might want to appeal against a decision made during your programme of study. It is beneficial to have an informal chat with your Personal Tutor so that you will be able to build trust and a good relationship with them. In this way, if any major issues do arise you will feel more comfortable talking to them so that hopefully the problems don’t escalate. Where there might be any issues relating to the positive relationship, we would expect you to have with your Personal Tutor, you will be assisted in changing to an alternative Tutor to ensure a more effective level of connection.

The Wellbeing Team

The Wellbeing Team

Here at Edge Hill we understand that everyone’s mental health can fluctuate, and that there may be times during your studies where you feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or low in mood, and may need some support.

The Wellbeing Team is here to support you with all of your health and wellbeing needs throughout your time at Edge Hill.

The Wellbeing Team are here to offer emotional and practical support and can also help you access other services that may be relevant to you, such as counselling, other student services teams and external services.

What support is available?

The first step to accessing support from the Wellbeing team is to book an initial appointment (IA). This may be a telephone, video or face to face appointment depending on availability and circumstance.

During this appointment you will meet with one of our wellbeing practitioners who will work with you to understand how your mental health is currently impacting you, and what support would be beneficial for you.

Support identified could include self-help, seeing your GP, a wellbeing appointment, a counselling referral or onwards referrals to other teams or external services.
You are able to book an initial appointment with the wellbeing team by using this link or by emailing studentwellbeing@edgehill.ac.uk

Wellbeing appointments
During your Initial Appointment (IA) it may be identified that you would benefit from a wellbeing appointment with a member of the wellbeing team.

Wellbeing sessions are 50- minute appointments designed to introduce you to practical strategies to manage your emotions, whether this is looking at managing anxiety and low mood, managing self-harm, improving motivation, improving sleep or anything else.

Wellbeing appointments are tailored to meet your needs and will focus specifically on the issues you discussed during your IA.

External services
During your Initial Appointment it may be identified that you would benefit from a referral to an external service who can offer you additional support. The wellbeing team have existing links with may services.

Wellbeing practitioners will always try to ensure that the support you are receiving is correct and appropriate for your individual needs, therefore do not hesitate to discuss this during your appointment.

To find external services that are local to you, search your location on Hub of Hope.

Counselling 
During your Initial Appointment, it may be identified that you would benefit from a referral to the Edge Hill Counselling Service.

The Counselling team is an established, professional facility that offers a wide range of services to Edge Hill students. Counselling is available at the Ormskirk Campus and is offered free of charge whether you are a full-time or part-time student.

One to one talking therapy with experienced, qualified counsellors can help you to explore what is happening in your life, what you want to do differently and what your next steps might be. We can offer help in finding solutions to problems, ways of coping, or just a safe place to talk.

For more information on how counselling may be helpful to you, and for information on what to expect contact studentwellbeing@edgehill.ac.uk.

For more information and resources take a look at our wellbeing webpages.

Let us know

It is important to us to look out for one another within our university community.If you do have any concerns about another person, our Let Us Know service allows you to confidentially let us know about any issues by completing our online form.

Take a look at the guidance and advice available on the website if you would like any further information, or contact the Student Wellbeing Team via email at studentwellbeing@edgehill.ac.uk

Togetherall

Once you have registered during welcome week and are officially a student at Edge Hill University, you will be eligible to access free online support with Togetherall.

Whether you’re struggling to sleep, feeling low, stressed or unable to cope, Togetherall can help you get support, take control and feel better.

What is Togetherall?
Togetherall is an online support community which is run by trained professionals and clinicians.

Whether you’re struggling to sleep, feeling low, stressed or unable to cope, Togetherall can help you get support, take control and feel better.

It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year and is completely anonymous.

Togetherall provides a safe space online to get things off your chest, explore your feelings, get creative and learn how to manage your mental health and wellbeing.

You can log your mood, take courses on how to manage your mental health and talk to other people who may be experiencing the same things; or even offer some support to others.

As it’s moderated 24/7, professional support is only ever a click away.

How do I join?

  1. Go to www.togetherall.com
  2. Sign up under ‘organisation’ with your Edge Hill University email address
  3. Create your profile by choosing an anonymous username

That’s it! Explore Togetherall and remember, you’re not alone.

If you have any questions about Togetherall, email studentwellbeing@edgehill.ac.uk.

Recap…

  1. University is exciting. A lot of the information on this page is focused on preparing for university, however it is important not to forget the obvious – university is one of the most exciting times of your life, full of new opportunities, and is something to be enjoyed to the fullest. So make the most of it!
  2. Change can be scary, but that’s a good thing! Any chance can be scary because you’re taking steps outside of your comfort zone where everything is familiar. Though it may seem daunting, every step outside of your comfort zone is an opportunity to grow, have new experiences and develop our skills. It may seem big at first, but eventually you will find your feet and be glad that you made the change.
  3. You’re here to LEARN. Learning is the main goal of coming to university! Therefore don’t expect yourself to know how to do everything perfectly the first time round – if you knew that, then you wouldn’t be coming to university. This doesn’t just apply to your academic work either, the learning happens in all ways – socially and emotionally- so remember to be kind to yourself, and understand that you’re only just learning.
  4. You can meet new people anytime and anywhere. Sometimes we have a lot of expectations that we will find out lifelong friends as soon as we start university – and some people do! But the truth is, every single day is a chance to meet a new person, and friendships can often be found in unexpected places. It’s never too late to meet new people!
  5. Looking after yourself is important. No matter what university life has in store, the one thing that remains the same is that looking after yourself is important. Try to check in with yourself often, and ask yourself is there anything you need. Make some regular time for you, and aim to do the things you know make you feel good, such as eating well, drinking enough, getting enough sleep and looking after your physical and mental health.
  6. Ups and downs are part of the journey. The truth is, you can’t have positives and ‘ups’ in life without also experiencing a few ‘downs’. Often it’s the challenges we face in life that make the positives so rewarding. If you expect you may encounter some challenges, then you’re on your way to being prepared for them. And remember, not all challenges are a bad thing, often there is a positive to be taken too – you just need to look for it.
  7. Support is on hand. You’re not alone during this journey. No matter what is going on, Edge Hill is a community full of support should you need it. From personal tutors, to student services, help is on hand. All you need to do is ask.
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