My Journey at Manchester Met with Social Anxiety – A Fresher’s Guide – By Levi Richardson

It’s the beginning of term; it may be your first time back in a social setting since the outbreak of coronavirus. It’s understandable if you feel anxious especially if you are a champion worrier like myself, and believe me, you won’t be the only one, with at least 1 in 5 students estimated to be suffering from mental health conditions (mostly anxiety).

Here’s a few tips from my own experience.

My own worst enemy

The apprehension and anticipation of the unknown can cause a lot of anxiety or at least it did for me. 1st lesson, 1st society, how many people will there be? Will I have to introduce myself over and over? Will I look or say something stupid or start twitching, shaking or trembling with anxiety?

If I am honest no one ever noticed or at least they never commented on any of my anxiety manifestations. Looking back my advice would be to have something interesting about yourself prepared to say like a hobby or experience, as well as why you are interested in your course or society.

Whilst I can’t put you in touch with other students on your course, I can give you the link to societies available at Manchester Met. My personal recommendation is the pool society where we go to the pub, have a drink, and play pool (All welcome) – I managed to get gym membership at Platt lane and the pool membership together for around £100.

Presentations

During my first week we had to present to the rest of the class – My worst nightmare! The issue was I couldn’t even present to the rest of my group, nevermind the entire class. Part of the trouble was I had always avoided presentations in school and college, but avoidance doesn’t help, the best solution is do your preparation, practice, and to muddle your way through, and it will get easier.

Everyone watching wants you to do well and are preoccupied with their own presentation. Why not speak to your professor or group members and see if you can have a smaller speaking part or try attending some of these services offered at Manchester Met such as counselling, self-help and workshops.

Or you could speak to your professor about doing a 1 on 1 presentation (I have done this).

The panic

I started skipping lessons and meet ups which definitely affected my grades. I stayed in my room, often not socialising with anyone but the kind cleaner lady in the kitchen. The isolation, the worry, the fear all built up inevitably leading to my first panic attack. It induced so much fear about having another attack that it triggered subsequent daily panic attacks for 9 months.

What helped for me was speaking to my doctor and getting medication, therapy and practicing mindfulness.

I strongly advise that if you are suffering, don’t wait as long as I did. If you haven’t registered with a doctor yet here is a link to Manchester Met’s guidance.

I managed to get my degree, I am now doing a Masters and have an internship here at MetMUnch. I made it through, and I believe you can too!

Anxiety Busters!

* My personal favourite anxiety buster is to Jump on a 40-minute train, Piccadilly to Edale for just £7.95 return (with railcard) and go for a hike in the peaks. If you’re scared to go alone you could try this society or the ‘Northern Ramblers’ Facebook group. Get in touch if you want us to start an Manchester Met hiking group. It is a fantastic way to get some peace and quiet! Here are some excellent walks around Edale.

* I cannot recommend mindfulness enough, I personally find the ‘Honest Guys’ guided meditation videos very calming, check them out here, or you can try headspace.

* Make sure you join as many societies as possible as the rewards are well worth the stress and apprehension before your meet up.

* Why not head down to MetMUnch’s GROW café for a feel good, nutritional and sustainable meal when the café reopens in January 2021.

* Do visit the return to campus checklist, before you come to university.

Here’s a random picture of my cat practicing mindfulness.