Exam Results Week is here and so brings with it many life-changes and decisions for the next few years, for students, families and friends. If you are in the exciting position to start preparing for university, this blog is for you.
As part of their guest blog series, Durham University Beat Society provide their top tips on how students can adapt to change whilst at university.
We have talked about ‘transitional phases’ and the feelings that can arise in the midst of change – these phases could include moving home, going to university, transitioning between mental health services or even experiencing menopause. These all place a strain on the individual as they adjust to new lifestyles and routines.
People with eating disorders can struggle with transitions because they often come with change and uncertainty, two things that are difficult to tolerate and that reflect the opposite of an often tightly controlled eating disorder.
Change challenges what is known and what feels safe. But learning to cope with the experience of change builds resilience for future transitional experiences.
Below, the Durham University Beat Society share their top tips on how you can build upon this resilience and prepare for the next chapter in your life (contributed by the society’s Co-President and full team).
1. Remember that whatever you are feeling is valid
There can be a lot of pressure to be excited to go to university, but it’s completely valid and understandable if you don’t feel that way. Everyone responds to change differently, so it’s normal for your feelings about going to university to be different to those of your friends and family. There is no ‘right’ way to feel–whatever you’re feeling is valid.
2. Talk about it
Whether you’re feeling nervous, scared, excited, sad, confused, or a mix of everything, it might be helpful to talk about how you’re feeling. Chatting to a friend, family member, therapist, pet, or writing in a journal can help you to process your feelings and to lift some of the weight from your shoulders. Remember that although going to university is a big change, you’re not going through it alone–there are lots of people ready to support you.
3. Find small ways to build excitement
If you’re dreading the move to university, consider doing little things that might help you feel a bit more excited about the move. For example, you could go shopping for decorations for your dorm room, or you could research the city you’re moving to and find a place you’d like to visit. Although these things won’t magically make you really excited for university, they’re little bits of light that might make the move slightly less painful.
4. Bring some familiarity with you
To help your feel more at home in your university accommodation, consider bringing some familiar items from home with you, like a blanket or a teddy. You might also like to stick up photos on your walls (if you’re allowed!) Things that also help with familiarity include watching a comfort show or film that you’ve seen before, listening to your favourite music or eating your favourite snack. The familiarity of these things can be comforting and might help you to settle into your new accommodation.
5. Take it slow
Moving to university is a big change and it can be really overwhelming. There are lots of new things to experience–but you don’t have to do it all at once. You don’t have to make all of your friends and explore the whole university in Freshers’ Week. There really is a lot of time to get used to uni life, so try to take it one step at a time. You don’t have to have it all figured out as soon as you move in.
In a previous blog, we explored how eating disorder recovery is about becoming. Becoming is a state of knowing that change is inevitable, that as humans, we’re in a constant state of flux as we respond to ever-changing environments around us. You feel secure in this knowledge and trust your ability to adapt and move with the change. Having the best possible support system in place will help you settle in to university and enjoy your new life.
We appreciate the support Durham University Beat Society offers our student community. You can read more of their tips on student life and navigating eating disorder recovery here.