Friday 15 January 2021

Three's a crowd - COVID life, university and your mental health

Taylor Shares his experience in managing his mental health as a university student during the Coronavirus.

- Taylor

For some students, starting university last September was supposed to be a new start and a great experience; it does not seem to feel that way. Nor does it for the students who moved into their next year with a completely new experience and challenges to face.

The first lockdown was difficult, but we all got through it. Plus, the positive was that it was the summer, and the sun was shining. But now we are in winter, and the weather is against us. Going out for a walk to relieve some stress is not quite so easy when it’s cold and rainy. Being stuck inside is worse, though, if you live alone. We are lucky to have technology that allows us to communicate with almost anyone. However, talking to someone over the phone, even on a video call, is not anywhere near the same as spending time with them face-to-face in real life.

But then there are university lectures and seminars. For many students, these sessions are the only time in the week, when they get to hear the voice of other humans, but it does not feel the same when it is online. Being online makes it even harder to strike up a conversation, especially when cameras are forcibly turned off. It can get boring: sitting in a room on your own, listening to the same voice through the screen, as they change the slide on their presentation.

You probably are not going to be able to boost your mental health with face-to-face contact, or at least as much as you used to, but there are other ways in which you can look after your mental health:

Write a list of gratitude:

Although this is a difficult time, we all have things that we can be grateful for. Writing these down can help us shift our perspective to a more positive outlook: focusing on what we have, instead of what we are lacking.

Help someone out: 

There are so many charities that need volunteers. If you know someone who is unable to get out during this lockdown, you could offer to get their shopping for them. Helping out does good for the community, but it also boosts your mental health with a purpose and a positive outlook.

Find a routine: 

This lockdown might have completely thrown your days upside down, but it is still important to get up and get dressed. You do not have to fill your day with activities, but maybe going for a walk, just to break up your day could help.

Do things that make you happy: 

Watch a movie, get a takeaway, go for a jog… (the list is endless).

Video calls: 

We may not be able to see people face-to-face, but for the time being, calling is the closest we are going to get to it. But if you can, use a video calling app so that you can actually see one another and have a more relatable conversation.

The second most important thing after your own mental health is checking in on your loved ones, it does not need to be an extensive conversation. Just drop them a text, perhaps: ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ or ‘I’m here for you if you need to talk about everything that’s going on right now’. Leaving the door open for a conversation allows them to approach you if they need support. But do not worry, you do not need to be an expert on mental health, you just need to listen.

Your mental health may be challenged during the Coronavirus, but it’s important to remember: you made it through two lockdowns in a very strange, and unpredictable time. 2020 taught us a lot about resilience, and the pressure of being thrown into a circumstance blindfolded. Although, at least we can take those lessons into 2021 and look after ourselves.

We understand that studying during coronavirus brings new challenges and uncertainty. Explore tips and tools on Student Space​ to help you manage through the academic year. 

Hey, I’m Taylor, a student teacher from Kent. Mental health is a topic that isn’t in our daily conversations, but why not? I’m an advocate for mental health sharing an equal platform with physical health. And in the 21st century, social media is the place it can begin with, which is why I wrote this article. 

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