Tuesday 12 May 2020

Now we’re stressed out: Top tips to manage in lockdown

Alice shares the activities that have been helping to reduce her stress levels during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Alice Barrow 

During these circumstances, my stress levels have been through the roof. What started as advice from my university not to travel abroad turned into advice to move out of accommodation three days later, resulting in my world being turned upside-down. And I’m sure you all feel the same as I do. With physical access to university libraries and lecturers limited, as well as the sun now shining, my motivation has plummeted. And, in turn, my stress levels have increased dramatically. Despite my anxiety at this time, I’ve found the following tips to be incredibly useful in taking my mind off our volatile circumstances, and hope they help you too!

1. Have a Routine

It sounds rudimental but having a routine has really given me structure during this uncertain time. I personally plan my day the night before, and so in the morning, I wake up with a plan, raring and ready to go! This keeps me motivated to get out of bed, and not lounge around all day. Even if it's a quick note of what time you want to wake up, what work you want to do, and then how much chill time you need, this will just help put you back into the university mindset, rather than feeling like an unoriented student living at home with no time to yourself.

2. Journal!

I cannot be a bigger advocate for journaling. It has helped me during the toughest times in my life, from A-Level exams, to discussing my mental health, and moving away from home. Personally, I number my feelings (1 being HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY, quite literally in capital letters!) and 7 being incredibly upset. By being able to identify how I feel, I can then ask myself how I can improve this. And that's what I do in my journal - I literally have a conversation with myself and ask how I can better my mood, as if it’s somebody else asking me those questions. This way, you can find the source of your stress, and so be able to try to alleviate it.

3. Exercise

I’m not a sporty girl. I’ve been a sailor my whole life, and the idea is that you sit in the boat! Running is not my forte, and I imagine never will be. However, one thing that's been helping me immensely is basic strengthening exercises. I’m talking mat workouts like stretches, planks, Pilates-style movements for literally 20 minutes. It helps both with my mood and to improve whatever back pain I have from being scrunched over a desk! So, put on an episode of your TV show of choice, and 20 minutes later I guarantee you’ll feel much better.

4. Balance Creative Time and Academia

As this is exam season, we’re all stressed. With a pandemic and online exams (for some) on top of that, the stress can be overwhelming. Whilst I could spend all day revising (or all-day procrastinating) the best thing to do is to find a balance between the two. This links to scheduling your day; schedule in academic time, so that the source of your stress is being addressed, but also include time to breathe, to be creative, to unwind and create something beautiful! It will boost your mood immensely. (Bonus tip if you have a garden to do this in the sun!). Most importantly, don't compare yourself to others. In a recent poll on my university’s Facebook page (I go to Exeter), the average student was spending 1-2 hours a day doing work. So, if you get half an hour in, great! You’ve still done some work, and you should be proud of that. Remember, we are not just revising at home, we are revising at home during a pandemic.

Finally, remember, this is a challenging time for all of us. It may feel chaotic, but together we can get through this. Stay strong and stay safe!

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

For further information on COVID-19 and looking after your mental health, click here.

My name is Alice Barrow, and I'm a Law student at Exeter University. As an overachiever, I think it's so important that we look after our mental health, and make sure our daily stress levels are manageable. I shared these top tips to help others who may also be finding this experience incredibly stressful!

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