Student Wellbeing Advice During Covid-19
I’m sure by now we’re all familiar with the Government’s ‘Hands – Face – Space’ campaign to help stop the physical spread of COVID 19, but what about the effect the pandemic is having.
Getting to grips with COVID 19 has meant students will have had a completely different learning experience in 2020. With classes being held on-line and limited social interaction with friends and fellow students being allowed, the excitement of going to University has understandably faded for a lot of students.
With mental health being a key area of overall wellness, in this blog we’ll take a look at the available resources for students, as well as some mental help tips for Uni students.
Student Support and Wellbeing
Typically, a person’s first year at university involves nights out, meeting people and exploring a new city. But with COVID-19 restrictions resulting in universities moving to online learning, limits to the number of people you can socialise with and self-isolation following coronavirus outbreaks, it is likely that many first-year students are feeling disappointed, anxious and isolated.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, be reassured that you’re not on your own. Read on for some tips and advice to help get through these unprecedented times;
Get To Know Your New Household
Try to get out of your room and spend some time in safe student common areas where allowed, so that you can talk more to the people you are living with. Many students will feel like you do, and this is a good way to start interacting.
While current restrictions will make it hard for you to meet a lot of new people, try to view it as a good opportunity to get to know the people that you are living with better.
If you aren’t self-isolating, organise games, movie nights or other activities that your flat can get involved in. You may also want to plan days out with your housemates, while sticking to current restrictions. And, if you have access to social media platforms like Zoom, you can still link up with other flats online to socialise.
Get Involved in University-Hosted Activities
Sports, music and drama activities may have changed to comply with social distancing rules or may have moved online, but not cancelled entirely, so see what is available.
Get involved in as much as you can alongside your studies, particularly if you are feeling bored, lonely and isolated. This can be a great way to meet new people who are interested in some of the same hobbies or activities as you.
Explore Your New City
If you aren’t self-isolating, get outside as much as possible and meet with one or two fellow students for a regular catch up, if this aligns with your local guidelines. You may want to go for a stroll, have a coffee outdoors or visit your new local park.
Keep strong mentally and physically by maintaining a regular exercise regime, whether it’s running, yoga or team sports, where allowed.
Establish a Strong New Routine
While this may be difficult in the first few weeks of university, establishing a healthy pattern will help you to start feeling settled in your new university life.
Eat three meals, study, video call your family or friends, chat to your new housemates, organise an activity for the flat and meet up with someone outdoors if you are able to.
If you feel like there are any gaps in your days, think about how you could fill them. Could you organise a virtual catch up with your college friends, is there a society that you want to join or is there a fellow student from a class discussion who you could study with in a suitable setting?
Guidance for Those with Ongoing Mental Health Difficulties
For some people, the coronavirus outbreak may trigger compulsive thoughts and unhelpful behaviours, particularly if you have pre-existing conditions such as an anxiety disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. If you are receiving support for your condition, you might find it helpful to talk to your clinician, therapist, or other medical professionals. There are also an increasing number of online resources available for you.
Various organisations have produced guidance for those who have existing mental health conditions:
- Anxiety UK: “Health and other forms of anxiety and coronavirus”
- BBC: “Coronavirus: How to manage Anxiety and OCD during the pandemic”
- Beat Eating Disorders: “Eating Disorders and Coronavirus”
- OCD-UK: “OCD and Coronavirus Top Tips”
Stay In Touch with Your Family and Friends
Speaking with people from back home can be a good mood-booster, so organise catchups and call your parents, siblings and old friends.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Extra Support and Counselling If You Need It
If you are feeling anxious, low or stressed, many universities offer wellbeing and counselling services. You can also talk to your GP or make use of a confidential support and counselling line such as The Samaritans. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence. There is always someone who you can talk to and who can help you to feel better.
You might find yourself feeling worried about the spread of coronavirus and its impact on you and your loved ones. These feelings are normal and it’s important we acknowledge them and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health.
There are steps you can take to look after your mental health and wellbeing. A number of organisations have published guidance on mental health considerations relating to the coronavirus outbreak, including:
- The Mental Health Foundation
- The World Health Organisation
- Young Minds
As a student graduating this year you may have lots of questions about what the Covid-19 pandemic means for you. You may be concerned about your future job prospects, the graduate job market or what happens when you leave university.
We recommend that you keep in touch with your university’s careers and employability services who will be able to provide support specific to your situation.
Managing Your Mental Health and Wellbeing with Lockdown Easing
You might feel relieved and/or excited that lockdown is easing, however, you might find yourself feeling worried about the changes. You may experience a range of difficult thoughts and feelings.
And most importantly…
Go Easy On Yourself!!
It’s perfectly normal for you to feel sad, annoyed or worried about your first year at university taking place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Try not to get annoyed at yourself for feeling this way. You are living through a strange and difficult time, so experiencing strong emotions is completely natural.
Remind yourself that it is okay to feel how you do. At the same time, remind yourself that this won’t be permanent. Life will always be full of ups and downs. Although it’s tough, focus on making university life as good as you possibly can.
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