Looking After Your Mental Health and Wellbeing in Lockdown.
“it’s important to remember that no one is motivated 100% of the time.”
I recently did a takeover of Warwick’s Instagram account, discussing my tips and advice for looking after your mental health and wellbeing during this second lockdown. I thought it would be helpful to write some of it up on here for anyone who missed it and elaborate on some points. I think that this is all applicable to general university life, not just under lockdown, so hopefully, it will be of some use!
Staying connected with friends and family while at university and during lockdown is vital for looking after my mental health. There is, of course, the humble phone call, which I like to book in, especially with my perpetually busy dad. This means that I always have something to look forward to during the week. It lifts my mood if I feel low, knowing that I’ll get to talk to the people closest to me soon.
Aside from calling, I love virtual film and quiz nights. Get your friends and family on a video chat, stick a film or quiz on (Jay’s Virtual Pub Quiz is my family’s favourite and is still going strong since March)! It’s always good fun and, once again, breaks up the week.
A current favourite TV show is The Mandalorian on Disney+, which I watch with my friend every Friday.
Be it walking, running or yoga, staying active is great for your mental health. Be sure to pick something that you really enjoy and try to move a little everyday!
I got into running during the first lockdown and I love using the Couch to 5K app. It’s really helped my confidence and stamina throughout guided interval training, and gradually increasing how long you run each week. For yoga, which is something I never really thought I’d get into, I love Yoga with Adriene. Her videos are really accessible for all abilities and her monthly challenges help to keep you moving a little bit every day.
If I don’t have much time or I lack energy, I try to go for a walk. It’s great for clearing my mind, and sometimes I have my best ideas for essays when I’m out and about. It’s also a great opportunity to stay connected with friends since current government guidelines (and Tier 3 ones) allow socially distanced socialisation in some capacity outside.
Warwick Sport has also been hosting virtual exercise classes if that’s more your thing!
If you’re self-isolating and can’t leave the house, why not pop into the garden if you have one, or crack open a window to let in some fresh air?
Motivation and Productivity
First off, it’s important to remember that no one is motivated 100% of the time. But I also know that, at university, we sometimes can’t afford to be unproductive. So here are my main tips for motivation and productivity.
To-Do Lists – these are great to make sure you keep on top of things, but sure to be realistic. Try to break down large tasks in more manageable chunks; if they’re too daunting, you’ll never get around to them.
Pomodoro – this is a studying technique that really helps me get started if I’ve hit a bit of a wall. Pick a task and set a timer for 25 minutes. Work solidly for that time, putting all your focus into that one task. When the timer goes off, take a five-minute break. Repeat four times, then take a fifteen-minute break. I find that once I’ve started on a task, I’m set, and this really helps for that first little push.
Change of Scenery – obviously our options are limited right now, but I would recommend heading to the library for a change of scenery and to break the monotony of sitting at your own desk. There are loads of safety precautions in place to keep you and others safe, so be sure to follow them, but definitely head over there if you’re getting cabin fever.
Take a Break – I know it can be tempting to work all the time or feel that you don’t have time to stop, but it’s important that you do. Plan these breaks into the day. Taking breaks is productive in itself because it stops burn out and means that you can work more effectively. I would recommend having a definitive time to stop working each evening to ensure you can take some time for yourself every day.
A good night’s sleep is where my productive days start. Try to develop a good night time routine that helps you to unwind each night. Some key parts of mine are finishing work no later than 6 pm, cooking some of my favourite food, watching a comfort film or episode of a show, and making sure to switch off screens before you go to bed – try reading a book just before (great for escapism)!
Asking for Help
Last but not least, ask for help if you need it. There are so many people at the university whose job it is to look after you and help. You’ll never be a burden to anyone and you deserve to be happy. I’ve listed some of the key ones below:
Personal Tutor – they’ll be in your department and will be your first port of call for academic concerns especially, but they’re there to help with whatever you’re worried about.
Residential Life Team – this is for those of you on campus. They’re available to help with more than just letting you into your room when you’ve locked yourself out. If you need them, be sure to shout.
Campus Security – the campus security team are trained in mental health first aid and their number is on the back of your ID card.
Wellbeing Services – the Wellbeing Services at Warwick are outstanding. They offer masterclasses and self-help resources, as well as more long-term counselling and therapy sessions.
This has been a pretty long post, so I apologise for that, but this is a topic close to my heart and if I can help just one person out then that would be incredible. Please reach out if you need help!
My next posts will be about living in Earlsdon and discussing why I turned down my year abroad, so feel free to send me any questions about these and I’ll do my best to answer. And don’t forget to check out Warwick’s Instagram for future blogger takeovers!
Until next time,