Abby shares her experience of being a student at university during the pandemic and shares some tips on what students can do to look after their mental wellbeing during this time.
Hey I’m Abby, currently a Clinical Psychology Master’s Student. Now you’d think as a psychology student I’d be equipped with the coping strategies needed to manage life’s demands, but it’s never that easy.
Throughout the pandemic I lived alone, worked basically full-time as a key healthcare worker, finished multiple assignments, sat exams and conducted research and analysis for my empirical dissertation. Needless to say I needed the support of family, friends, colleagues and my academic tutors to help manage my mental wellbeing, but living far away from most of these people meant they were not always easy to access.
Prioritise your mental health. Everything else will fall into place.Abby quote Abby quote
At some points I felt very overwhelmed with all my responsibilities and needed to take some time away from work and volunteering to focus on my education as this is always my top priority. Ultimately, this relieved my mental distress too as I was able to give all my energy to my dissertation which I had neglected for a while.
I recently began sessions with a psychotherapist of my own which has been amazing for my mental health. I can offload and work through any negative thinking patterns or events that have occurred and be reminded to be compassionate towards myself.
Being a student is hard. You are away from home and the things you probably became accustomed to over the lockdown and summer months are no longer there. No one is expecting you to go through your degree without any struggles so reach out to those offering support. The academic staff genuinely care about you and want you to do well, if you feel like you’re drowning then tell someone. You family and friends love you and want to see you thrive in your independence, but no one will judge you if you need a helping hand along the way.
Prioritise your mental health. Everything else will fall into place.
Some tips from a Shout 85258 Clinician on looking after your mental health:
- Take the pressure off.
We are all dealing with a lot of stress during this time and it’s ok if you aren’t accomplishing as much as you would like. Practise gratitude towards yourself for all that you are managing right now.
- Spark joy.
A study from the British Academy of Sound Therapy found that nine minutes of music is all you need to inspire joy. Try putting music on while you study and take note of how different music impacts your mood.
- Move your body.
Exercise is great for the mind as well as the body. If you are self-isolating, consider trying an online workout regime, or start small by stretching for five minutes, doing five star jumps every time you wash your hands, walking around your room if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or taking two minute dance breaks throughout your day.
- Take a break from the news
During a global pandemic we all experience a loss of control. Experiment with how much consuming the news helps you feel in control and and informed vs. overwhelmed and hopeless. Find your most helpful dosage and set limits.
- Do something nice for others.
Consider offering support to friends, family and neighbours through texts, calls, video chatting and letter writing. When you offer support to others you’ll notice you feel a sense of purpose and connection.
- Establish a regular bedtime routine.
The amount of regular sleep you are getting can directly affect your mental health. Establishing a regular nightly routine can help the body recognise that it’s bedtime and improve the quality of your sleep.
If you are struggling to cope, you can always text SHOUT to 85258 to speak to one of our trained, empathetic volunteers. Our service is free, confidential, anonymous and 24/7.