How to cope with student stress during the current COVID-19 pandemic?

Student life can be stressful enough without adding COVID-19 into the mix. It’s changing the way we live; with restrictions on daily life ordered by the government. 

It’s important to follow government guidelines and try to remain positive during this challenging time. Due to coronavirus, schools, colleges and universities across the country have been left with no other option than to shut their doors. However, the academic year isn’t over quite yet with teachers relying heavily on distance learning. 

If someone had told us this was the way we’d all be living 10 years ago, would you have believed them? Probably not! 

The government has advised us to stay at home, except for essentials and exercise, which might have felt like a dream come true at first but now realisation is kicking in. You’re unable to see your friends, go to the cinemas, shopping or treat yourself to a Maccy D’s or Nandos. It’s important that you focus on looking after your health and wellbeing during these unprecedented times. Although, the government has recently updated their guidelines, making you now able to meet with one other person from a different households in England, as long as you are outdoors and follow the government scientific advice of keeping 2m (6ft) apart. This is still posing a challenge for most. 

We’ve put together some top tips to help you cope – emotionally and physically – during these times of isolation and social distancing. 

Get into a routine

Don’t let your routine slide. Create a schedule whilst you’re isolating and stick to it. It may feel like you don’t have any control over your life right now but you do! Always remember that. 

Scheduling your daily tasks can help give you control over your life and help reduce signs of stress and anxiousness. Create a timetable of what you’re going to do on a daily basis. Include time for your lessons, speaking with friends and family members, exercise, eating, learning new things, waking and bedtime. And then stick to it! Doing this will help you feel much more productive and will help you avoid getting stuck into a rut.

Put some music on

According to studies, music is proven to make us feel good. It releases a chemical called dopamine. What better excuse to crank up the volume of your favourite song! Make sure the music you put on is uplifting to boost your mood during this difficult time.

Avoid the news

Don’t let the news feed your anxiety. Try to avoid being glued to the TV or your phone constantly checking on the latest COVID-19 news. Instead try looking at ways you can look after your physical and mental health. If you’re due to go to university, browse online for things you need to take with you, learn about apprenticeships or if you’re due to graduate, learn more about graduate schemes and how to boost your CV – you’ll be able to find lots of productive resources online so you can use your time wisely!

Create a gratitude diary and be kind to yourself and others

It’s easy to be sucked into a negative thought loop during challenging times like the one we’re faced with today but keeping a gratitude diary can be rewarding and boost your overall health. Write a list of all the good things going on in your life which you are thankful for. 

Perhaps being at home has given you the time to complete those chores you never got round to like tidying out your wardrobe or make up box. Or maybe you’re doing an online course to enhance your skills. Do you have more time to speak with your family? These are all things which you can be thankful for so write them down.

Kindness is a gift so use it. Give it to others and yourself. Being kind to others makes people feel good about themselves and also releases stress, not only for others but yourself too. As you’re focusing on helping others and making them feel better, you worry less about trivial problems in your own life. 

Close-up Of Gratitude Word With Pen On Notebook Over Wooden Desk

Keep active

Your physical wellbeing can also impact your mental health. Exercising is a great way to reduce stress, it releases endorphins and gets your energy and adrenaline flowing. Just because you have to isolate doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. The Government allows you to as long as you follow the guidance for social distancing so keep active. 

Exercise can also help you feel more focused and motivated. So whether you decide to go for a jog outside or do some lunges in the garden, it all counts. You could even host a family exercise class with members of your household to make it more fun or FaceTime your friends and both work out together. 

Eat well

At times like these it can be tempting to over indulge in high sugar foods like chocolate, crisps and sweets. Although, these are all fine in moderation it’s important to boost your immune system and energy with healthy foods. This will give your body a better chance of fighting off illnesses too. Eating a balanced diet which includes fruit, vegetables, nuts, eggs, rice, meat, rice and milk is important. Swap your Netflix chocolate snack for an apple or orange! You’ll feel much better. 

Learn new things

Now is the perfect time to start learning new things! There are lots of free online courses you can do, such as learning on demand skills like coding with Codeacademy or learning the principles of User Experience with In Vision. There are courses available for all kinds of interests. Whether you’re interested in business, IT,  history or even knitting – now is a good time to learn more!

Watch motivational videos

YouTube has hundreds of inspiring and motivational videos for you to explore. They are a great way to build your confidence and increase self motivation. So if you’re feeling a little down in the dumps search these videos to keep you going.

Stay connected with friends and family

Thanks to technology, you are able to see your friends without physically being there with them. So whether you pick up the phone and give them a bell, drop them a text or video call them – you can remain connected to those who are closest to you. 

If you’re struggling with your emotions, don’t lock yourself away. Talk to someone! After all, a problem shared is a problem solved and everyone will want to support you.

Continue with your studies

Just because school, college and university is out doesn’t mean your learning is. Although exams have been cancelled or alternative assessment methods are being put into place, it’s important to continue your distance learning and to stay in touch with your teachers. It’s likely that they have set you lesson plans online and tasks to complete. Not only will studying help you to avoid dwelling on negative thoughts but it also helps to prevent boredom. Sticking to this routine will help prepare you for when school, college and university life returns to normal.

If you’re going to be starting the next academic year in a new college or university then use this time to prepare yourself for what’s to come. If you’re due to go to university, find new recipes and practice cooking. Learn how to do your own washing and drying. These are basic necessities for what you will need if you move away from home.

student online learning, e learning at home

Get the board games out

You might feel like you’re trapped indoors on the verge of insanity and cabin fever. Unfortunately, we’re all in the same boat. However, try to turn your free time into a positive by doing things that you would normally do. Although technology is amazing, it’s good to take a break from it every now and again! Switch the TV off and get the family board games out. Make your time at home fun and remember this won’t last forever!

Make yourself aware of mental health illnesses

Mental health problems can impact every single one of us. It doesn’t discriminante and during challenging times they might creep up on you without you even realising. Understanding the symptoms of mental health disorders can help you to seek support. Warning signs to look out for can include: 

  • Feel sad and upset for a lengthy period of time
  • Mood swings - from highs to lows
  • Tiredness, reduced energy and sleeping problems (too much or too little sleep)
  • Paranoia and hallucinations
  • Unable to cope with daily tasks and life stresses
  • Changes to eating habits
  • Feeling angry or lashing out
  • Thoughts of harming yourself

Understand why

Social distancing is needed to combat COVID-19. The NHS cannot fight this alone and every single one of us has a responsibility to take action. You must follow the government guidelines and only leave home for:

Essential journeys – Shopping for items which are deemed necessary, however, this should be done as little as possible. Medical requirements, which includes donating blood, providing care or helping those who are vulnerable or avoiding injury or harm. Other reasons which are considered essential include attending funerals or children from separated families to visit the other parent. 

To work – Travelling to and from work is permitted but only if you’re unable to do this at home. 

Exercise – You are allowed to exercise but this must be done alone or with members of your household. If you do go outdoors then you have to stay more than two meters apart from people outside of your household. You can now meet up with one other person, outside of your household, so long as you remain 2m apart and meet up outdoors.

If you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus then you must self isolate for a minimum of 7 days. Other members of your household must self isolate for at least 14 days of when the symptoms started. 

Take care of yourself

It’s vital that you follow the Government’s guidelines when looking after your physical health:

  • Avoid going out unless essential or for exercise
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Wash your hands frequently for a minimum of 20 seconds. If you do not have access to soap and water then use a hand sanitizer
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, put it straight into the bin and then wash your hands

Worried you or a family member may have coronavirus? The symptoms are:

  • High temperature
  • Continuous cough that’s new

If you’re showing symptoms, don’t panic! Drink water regularly, rest and use the NHS 111 service (online or over the phone). 

As the current COVID-19 pandemic unravels around us, we all need to come together to support the NHS and help look after our elderly and most vulnerable. We need to remember that this isn’t forever and it will become a distant memory. 

Try to look forward to the future and prepare for what is still yet to come – you will be able to enjoy a meal again with your friends and family, you’ll be able to go to the shopping centre and you will be able to hug your grandparents. 

The measurements we’re faced with today are needed, restrictions are set to look after our health. Abide by them, remain strong and stay safe!

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