It’s time to reconnect with classmates, friends or family, a time for excitement and anticipation. Whether you are making the journey or waiting for people to return, what we know for sure is that things are changing.
Alongside the excitement, it's also perfectly normal to feel worried, scared or nervous. Whilst change often leads to great outcomes, it also brings uncertainty. When we can't perfectly predict the future, our fight or flight response is triggered, flooding our bodies with chemicals designed to help us survive. We don't generally need to fight an opponent or run and hide so instead, we are left feeling nervous, worried or stressed. To deal with these feelings, we might start to over-think as we try to anticipate what will happen. This is really normal but rather than calm us, it can instead exacerbate worry and stress.
There are lots of other ways to respond to change that help build good wellbeing. Find some common worries related to change below and trips on how to handle them as we prepare to come back together.
Everything is new and I’m freaking out
It’s OK to feel nervous or scared if you are arriving in Adelaide for the first time. It’s a big deal and lots of our student community know exactly what it feels like. It is also a time for excitement, a time to build connections and discover who you are in this new environment. Whilst there may be restrictions that remain, there are lots of creative and enjoyable ways to connect if you take the first step. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Deal with the ‘freak out’ by taking care of your body. Rapid breathing and excessive planning are things our mind and body do to try and help us find safety but in new situations, they contribute to ‘freaking out’. Slow your breathing, count to 3 and push your feet into the ground. These techniques are really effective in bringing us back into the ‘now’. To practice them, have a look at The Breath and Useful Techniques.
- Check out the Student Blog on the Wellbeing Hub or Study Adelaide to hear from students on campus. Hearing from others can really help put our minds at ease.
- Connect with Talk Campus, a peer to peer app that links you to a worldwide network of students.
- Finally, check out the YouX Student Clubs. Knowing what’s here might help you find people with similar interests and start to make everything feel more familiar.
I don’t know what my course will look like next semester
There are still many things we don’t know in detail and it’s OK to have mixed feelings about them all. What our course will be like, what restrictions there will be, what campus will feel like when we are all back together, no-one can answer these questions fully. It’s normal to feel anxious, sad, frustrated or excited when our mind goes there. Try to focus on what you can control for now. To do this, practice ACE:
- Acknowledge the feeling: give it a name “I’m feeling sad”
- Come into your body: take a breath, feel your feet on the ground or push your hands together
- Engage in what you’re doing: use your eyes, ears and nose and see, hear and smell what’s around you. It helps bring your focus back to the here and now.
No-one is answering my questions
Waiting for responses can feel isolating and worry-inducing. If you’re waiting for a uni department or other organisation to get back to you, switch your attention to something else for a while, take a break or get outside. Think “What’s realistic here? Have I waited for a reasonable amount of time before chasing up an issue?” It could be helpful to talk to a friend or trusted person and get their opinion. If that doesn’t help, set a timeline for yourself then head outside or connect with a friend whilst you wait.
I don’t know anyone
You may have been a UofA student for some time now without having set foot on campus. We are so excited to have you here at last. But it takes a little time and effort to build connections that help you feel settled. Therefore, the best time to start is now. We have a vibrant student club scene, heaps of opportunities to volunteer / AUU volunteer and and a popular student blog to give you an insight into student life here in campus.
Get busy on the socials and connect with 1 campus activity or club activities every day or week until you find your crew. It is often from these connections that we build friendships for life. There is a club for everyone.
You can also connect with Talk Campus, a peer to peer app that links you to a worldwide network of students.
I’m worried about going to campus
If we feel anxious in social situations, the thought of returning to face to face classes, working in groups or attending tutorials might not fill you with excitement. Fear is often largely related to the unknown rather than the situation itself so we can start to do small things that help build familiarity like:
- Walk to campus to get used to the journey
- Spend short periods of time in the library or at a campus coffee shop
- Do fun things when you come to campus like listening to music on the Barr Smith lawns or sitting under the trees outside the beautiful Bonython Hall
- Be patient and kind with yourself – it doesn’t take long but it does take a little bit of time to make the campus feel like home
Fear of stigma, racism or discrimination may also be on some of our minds. The University community is so excited to have our international friends back on Australian soil. The uni has zero tolerance for racist or discriminatory behaviour and all students are encouraged to report concerns through the Safer Campus Community website. If you see or hear someone behaving like this, be a positive bystander and call out unacceptable conduct wherever you can. If you feel you can’t in the moment, you can still make a report and help build a respectful and inclusive community.
I’m homesick already
If you are feeling homesick, don’t worry, it’s totally normal. You might have just spent a long time interstate or internationally with family and community so moving away from that is a big deal. Understand what makes you feel connected to them. You might get a lot out of small gestures like a message during the day or you may want to connect over a game or a meal.
Some ideas to get started:
- When connecting with family, leave the camera on after you have chatted and do the things you normally would at home. This creates a sense that you’re spending your time with them despite not being in the same room.
- Take the time to celebrate any birthdays, achievements or good news! If you’re apart from your loved ones, schedule a date to get dressed up and have a drink together online. If you’re living together, organise a party or special dinner in your own home.
- Take the time to express your appreciation. If a loved one does something nice for you, give your thanks and make sure to highlight the quality in them demonstrated by their behaviour e.g. “Thank you for sending me that text, it was so thoughtful of you.”
- Plan a night where you use a streaming service to watch a movie or a TV show together.
- While there are so many perks to the technology around us, some of you may feel that your technology use is more harmful than helpful. If you are concerned about your use, head to our digital addiction page.
You might also want to check out the relationships section for more top tips on making friends and connecting with family.
I feel happy/sad. Am I OK?
When we face any major change like starting uni after the holidays, moving country or coming back to campus, after the adrenaline passes it’s really normal to have mixed feelings. Recently, the term ‘languishing’ has been used to describe this feeling, something you might refer to as “meh” or in other words, the struggle to get motivated. We can feel happy one minute then sad and demotivated the next.
To help move through the slump, start with a small and easy routine. Focus on small activities that you’ve enjoyed in the past. You might get creative, pick up an instrument or ring a friend and make plans. Even getting a nice coffee, going to the botanic gardens or spending time in lovely spaces like the art gallery is useful. You only need to spend a short time in these spaces to feel a benefit to mood plus you leave with a nice experience to reflect on later in the day.
Getting into a routine with sleep, eating well and spending time outdoors is also a great place to focus your energy. Take a look at our Body Health section for some great tips
If you want to reach out for support, here are some services that can help
- Beyond Blue - phone and web chat services alongside some great online forums around this topic
- Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14
- Mensline Australia – 1300 78 99 78
- Reach out
- Mindspot – telephone line 1800 61 44 34