Change is always difficult to deal with, especially in these relatively unprecedented times. The days of lockdown can be a struggle for everybody, and no matter whether you are isolated on your own, living with housemates, or with your family, there are going to be challenges.
Looking after your mental health during the lockdown is vitally important. Being without any (or much) physical human interaction is against our nature and it is therefore imperative that we do what we can to keep our minds and bodies healthy.
For most students this is a time of high amounts of social interaction – whether it is being part of an enormous university, living with your friends, or having an active social life. And this can make this period even more challenging.
There are things that you can do, however, to help to reduce the feeling of isolation during the lockdown. Health and fitness experts at LabSpa London say that “It’s important to remember, social distancing does not have to mean total isolation. Whilst physically, we are often not able to see our family and friends, the man at the local shop or the lady you chat to in the gym, we are so lucky that we live in an age when technology has made the world much smaller!”
With this in mind, here are some ideas of how to look after your mental health during these days of physical isolation and social distancing due to coronavirus:
If you are in lockdown with other people try to establish some house rules to avoid friction. Cooking and cleaning rotas are great ways to avoid conflict and resentment – and make for more effective food shopping. Cleaning routines are also a great way to eliminate paranoia about cleanliness concerning the coronavirus.
Talk, talk, talk
If you ask experts about feelings of loneliness, they will tell you that feeling lonely isn’t always about being on your own physically. It is to do with not having people who ‘get’ you. The good news is that during lockdown you still have people who ‘get’ you – even if they’re not right next to you.
Pick up the phone, get on Skype, Zoom, Facetime, Messenger, and chat at a safe distance over the garden fence. You can use any resources at your fingertips to talk to people. They might be good friends, an online community, or neighbours – most people will be glad to have a chat.
By all means talk about how you’re feeling and what is going on in your life, by try also to talk about other things too.
Find a new hobby
Although you might have university work to be getting on with, try to take some time out as well to get a hobby. There is plenty that you can do that will allow you to practice a little mindfulness, help you to get a new skill, and maybe be creative. Some ideas include learning a musical instrument, doing painting, pottery, cooking or maybe learning a new language.
Take a break from the news and social media
If you have more time on your hands you might feel an urge to keep checking up on the news or spend a lot of time on social media. Try to avoid this temptation and these are a sure-fire way to send your anxiety levels rocketing.
It is fine to catch up with the news a couple of times a day and check your social media every now and then, but you also need to give your brain a rest from the constant coronavirus news.
Fresh air and exercise
Fresh air and exercise are two of nature’s most effective drugs for keeping our bodies and minds fit and healthy. We are allowed to go outside once a day for exercise, so use it. Even if it’s just a walk around the block, it can make you feel better. We have had some lovely weather recently and the Vitamin D from the sun is also well-known for boosting your immune system – something that we could all be doing with right now.
At the risk of sounding like a school matron, fresh air and exercise is a great way of keeping yourself feeling good.
It is important that you look after yourself properly during the lockdown, and that includes being kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do everything that you were expecting to but try to make an effort to keep your days relatively structured and constructive.
Remember, lockdown isn’t going to last forever. It won’t be long before you’re back in the student union, hanging out with your housemates and trying to fit some study into your busy schedule…