The words no one wanted to hear: Lockdown Three. Online teaching. Stay indoors. Even though we know this is necessary so that people can stay safe and healthy, it can be difficult and frustrating, and many students are worried about the impact this will have on their mental health.
The stress is real but what we need to do is take care and remember that we don’t have to go through this alone.
Although I am your VP Education and Welfare now, last year I was a Psychology and Criminology student at Bucks and was affected by the first lockdown. I also had online classes, couldn’t go out with my friends and spent more time in joggers than I did in jeans. So I’ve put together a few tips together to help you get through this difficult time:
Stay in touch.
Staying connected to those who are important to us is more important now than ever before. We’re away from our colleagues, our course mates, our friends and in some cases even our families and we can’t just pop our head round the corner or go up the road to see them. Staying in regular touch with people who bring a little positivity to your life will do you wonders. Ring your mum, Facetime your nan, text your driving instructor. Staying connected whilst we’re apart will make such a difference.
Plan something to look forward to.
Whether it’s during your studies or just day to day, planning something that I really enjoyed, for example trying a new dinner recipe, helped me to have something to look forward to. Maybe you’ll treat yourself to one more episode of your favourite show once you’ve cleared out your inbox or perhaps there’s a brownie with your name on it for as soon as you’ve finished annotating that chapter? Make it something you enjoy and give yourself a reason to get excited.
Take each day as it comes.
Things can feel overwhelming at the moment but instead of trying to plan a month at a time and then rescheduling it all when things change, take it one day at a time. Try setting yourself a few things for a ‘non-negotiable’ morning, for example drinking a glass of water, washing your face, meditating or stretching. That way if these non-negotiables are the only things you do that day, you will still feel as if you’ve accomplished something. Manageable daily tasks will help to make your to-do list feel more doable.
Just because you can do it all, doesn’t mean you should.
It’s ok to be productive, and it’s ok to not be productive. Nobody is doubting your ability to complete your laundry, tidy the spare room, paint the hallway and re-organise that pile of old papers. You can do it, but that doesn’t mean that you need to do it all. There’s this idea that now we’re at home all the time we should be able to do all the things we never had time for but it’s ok if the only thing you do is put on clean socks.
Your insides are not the same as someone else’s’ outsides.
Don’t compare yourself to others on social media. Take time away from the screen, you can’t consume all the media out there. Be aware of who you follow on social media, if there is someone you follow who is making you feel low, unfollow them. Your social media is a space for you to see the things that you like and make you feel good. Don’t let comparison ruin that for you.
Apply the brakes.
This goes back to a previous point but you need to listen to your body. If you’ve been running, doing at home workouts and baking every day and your body is telling you to slow down, then take some time away from it. If you’ve been scrolling social media every hour and watching the news obsessively and it’s making you feel anxious and worried, then have a digital detox and take time away from those things. Apply the brakes!
Don’t be scared to reach out.
If you’re isolating and feeling lonely or just going through this uncertainty and finding it difficult, don’t be afraid to reach out. We will all be going through this experience differently, but we all need to think of our mental health and it’s ok not to be ok. If you don’t feel like you can open up to your family or friends, you can always reach out to our impartial and confidential Advice Centre (SUAdvice@bucks.ac.uk) or there are some incredible charities out there like the Samaritans (116 123) who are there to listen to you.
Remember that it’s ok to not feel ok. The Students’ Union is always here for you and have plenty of resources that you can make use of such as our Advice Centre, Bucks Buddies, our Mental Health Resources page, our online fitness classes and even our social media. We are all in this together and if you even need to reach out then please drop us an email at SUAdvice@bucks.ac.uk or Natasha.Neal@bucks.ac.uk
Vice President Education and Welfare, Natasha Neal.