Now that A-Level exams have finished, the conversations about university starting have begun. A frequent conversation in my therapy office, has been about how they can prepare, make friends and settle in. So, here’s 8 top tips for before they go and when they get there:
#1 – Learn how to use the utilities before you go
Every year I have clients who freak out about not being able to use a washing machine/cooker/microwave… as funny as it sounds, these daily activities can cause huge amounts of stress. So, having a lesson with a parent before they go is always a grand plan.
#2 – Learn a handful of easy recipes
Being able to create a handful of easy dinner recipes and compiling a shopping list with the key ingredients that will need takes the stress out of routines. It is also a great way to connect with people in shared kitchens as it gives a sense of confidence and ensures that we don’t end up feeling like we cannot fend for ourselves.
#3 – Compile a contact list
Before you go, put together a list in your diary or phone of key contact numbers you might need. This can include the student welfare officer, student services, pastoral support, the first aider, maintenance team and local support centres such as the hospital or citizens advice, When we know we have all key information to refer to, it gives us a sense of safety that we know what to do in all eventualities. It also means that if you need help you know where to go.
#4 –Keep the door open
When you start unpacking in your halls of residence, keep the door open so that you can greet other students as they move in. Friendships are initially built on feeling people are approachable, so simply saying hi as people walk past means that they see who you are and where you live. Unfortunately, new friends do not transport into our rooms, so connecting is the first step.
#5 – Pay a compliment
If you’re passing another students’ room, pay them a compliment. Whether it’s about their duvet cover, a picture or something cute they have decorated with. Creating positive first impressions doesn’t have to be complicated, just genuine.
#6 – Look after your mental health
If you are uncertain, or worried about how you will manage, it’s perfectly ok to book yourself some online therapy sessions to support you with those early weeks. Asking for help is a sign of strength and the better you feel, the more you will settle. You can also download some hypnotherapy audios, use headspace or a favourite playlist to help you feel comfortable.
#7 – Say yes
If you’re invited to an event or coffee or cake or any activity that looks good, say ‘yes’. Richard Branson famously says ‘If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure if you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later’ – when we say yes our brain opens to more opportunities.
#8 – Remember, everyone is in the same boat
Everyone is new, everyone is uncertain, everyone is a bit scared – but, the more you do, the faster your brain will develop pathways to support you to feel better.
Want to learn more?
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