Monday 30 March 2020

It's Tough, But We Will Pull Through Together

Joe, UWS Sports President, shares his account of coronavirus lockdown and the transition to working from home with a history of mental health issues 
- Joe Gilfillan

My name is Joe and I'm the Sports President at Team UWS. I have an amazing platform with which I am able to reach out to many students, and I think it's important I use this opportunity to try and be positive, but also to be genuine. 

Two weeks ago we had our Annual Sports Ball, it was a fantastic occasion, we shared an amazing night in which we rewarded so many deserving individuals and groups within our community. It was months of hard work, stresses, doing what I love, working with our students and having a great time in the process. 

Then suddenly, everything had stopped. As of the following working day, there were no students. There was uncertainty. There was fear. There still is. Before long, I found myself working from home. My job revolves around students and sport, and I knew at the end of the year this would slowly round off and planning would begin for the next cycle. However, I wasn't prepared for this, none of us were. As someone who has experienced poor mental health in the past, it was tough to suddenly be thrown into a place similar to where I was years ago, a place of isolating, not going out, limiting social contact. I was scared that I would be set back in my journey, and that my recovery had been wasted. But it's okay to feel like this. I know there are a lot of people in similar situations, with their own issues, and many people going through these thoughts and feelings for the first time.

For all we have to isolate in person, it is now more important than ever that we band together, as friends and as humans. My mum always uses the saying "no man is an island", and at a time like this I feel that is very appropriate. Reach out to your friends and colleagues, check in with family in what may be new ways to what you are used to. And most importantly, reach out for support. If you are finding it hard, you certainly aren't the only person, and people understand now more than ever. 

I have been having regular contact with colleagues through video conferencing sites, to try and keep as much "normality" as possible. Using social media, even platforms such as snapchat, allow you to reach as many people as possible, even if it's only to make them smile for a second, or to let them know you are thinking of them- they haven't been forgotten. You don't know how much someone might need that. I have times where I have been isolated and low, having someone you can chat to, especially at the quiet times of the evening, even if it's just to talk nonsense, it briefly distracts me from the very harsh realities of the world.  

Routines have changed drastically, which is why it is vitally important to control the controllable. Take regular breaks from your work, watch some TV, get in an hour of exercise a day, drink plenty of water and try to eat as sensibly as possible. But also allow yourself some leeway. We are a generation centred around technology. We are using new ways to keep in touch. But also limit this in your free time if need be. It's so easy to focus on the negative at a time like this, so we need to take time away from it all as much as possible, for ourselves. No-one really knows how to get through this, all we can do is the best we can, and find our own rhythm. Stay safe, be kind to one another, we will get through this together.

For more information Student Space is here to make it easier for you to find the support you need during the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information on looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit the Student Minds webpage.  

My name is Joe, I'm the University of the West of Scotland's Sports President (Sports Sabbatical). I was asked to do a blog internally to highlight the transition for people. I decided to use this as a platform for discussing my own experiences with mental health, to highlight our vulnerabilities at this trying time. 

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