Times are tough at the moment, to put it mildly. With lockdown still mostly underway, life is still not quite “back to normal” even though a few restrictions are slowly being lifted. Being a student comes with its own challenges at the best of times, but lockdown has certainly made student life a little more difficult!
There’s widespread uncertainty about what exactly the world will look like post-lockdown, including how your studies and career path will unfold. The Covid-19 pandemic has definitely put a spanner in the works, but there are things students can do to hold onto their sanity during these stressful times.
“Mindfulness is more important now than ever, so try and set time aside each day and do as much as you can” says student household bill provider, Glide. Reconnecting to the present moment is always important, but even more so in trying times.
Making some room in your self-care routine for mindfulness means you give yourself the opportunity to pause, recalibrate, and release anxiety and stress. By focusing on where you are right now, you tune into your breathing, your bodily sensations, and the flow of thoughts and emotions. It can be a very effective stress management technique to focus on and contemplate just one sensation at a time.
Spending most of your day indoors can quickly start to feel unbalanced. Try to consciously structure the day ahead so you know you’re devoting enough time not only to study, but to other vital aspects of your wellbeing. Make time to exercise, relax and indulge in things you enjoy. At the same time, in periods of stress and uncertainty, you need to make the effort to really be kind to yourself – don’t worry or punish yourself if things don’t go to plan! Remember that it’s all temporary.
Social distancing simply means you physically maintain space between you and others – but you can still keep connected to loved ones in other ways. Make the best of the technology available (Zoom, Face Time, Skype, House party, WhatsApp, or Microsoft Teams) to have much-needed virtual meet ups.
Try to keep lines of communication open with your university and student advisors, too. Don’t be afraid to seek their support or guidance on what you’re experiencing. Keeping up to dates with your university’s policies will also make you feel more in control of planning your future post-Covid.
Remember to be Compassionate
Each of us is experiencing the challenge of the pandemic differently. Many people are finding an incredible sense of purpose and fulfilment from reaching out to others to help those having a harder time. If you feel as though you’d like to give back, why not volunteer to help more vulnerable people in your immediate community?
Even checking up on old friends makes a difference. Ask how people are doing and really listen, share gifts or cards with family members, make masks or find ways to support local businesses as they ease out of lockdown. If you’re not feeling strong enough to do any of that, be compassionate with yourself, and seek help and support if you need it.
Nurture Your Creativity
Being creative is great for stress relief. Take some time out to do creative activities that you enjoy like drawing and painting, making music or dancing, cooking and baking, writing, or knitting. Let go of any expectations about the finished product and remind yourself to simply enjoy the process as it unfolds.
Take Care of Your Body
Not only is exercise one of the best ways to boost your mood, it keeps you physically strong and healthy, too. Take advantage of the fact that you can leave the house any time you’d like a walk, run or outdoor exercise – restrictions on group sports still exist but will be lifted eventually. If you’d like to try something new, you could experiment with YouTube fitness classes, Zoom exercise groups, or simply play some upbeat music and dance around your living room to get your heart rate up!
Share Your Experience
Lockdown can be isolating. Try to reach out to others and talk honestly about how recent events have affected you (remembering that not everyone will have had the same experience). You might feel more connected and supported by sharing stories, asking for help and encouragement, or simply having a good whinge with sympathetic mates! If it feels more appropriate, seek online therapy or give a professional helpline, your university health service of your GP a call to help you work through any difficult feelings.
This is a guest post written by Evelyn James.