Mature Student Survival Guide for Crazy Times
“Well, that escalated quickly!” ~ Ron Burgundy
As mature students we perhaps thought we had pretty much assimilated enough information and life experiences to figure out how society works. However, recent global events means we have had to adapt to sudden change. I never thought I would see the day when home educating and working from home was actively encouraged. Yet, here we are.
I am eternally grateful to those who keep everything ticking along, which includes, but is not limited to, those in low paid professions; factory workers, drivers, cleaners, refuse collectors, paper girls and boys, postal workers and anyone associated in anyway with agriculture and retail; manufacturing and production chain etc. etc.
With regard to other key workers on the front line, 4 out of 5 women work in health, social care and the education industries. I hope their invaluable contribution to society is finally duly noted and rewarded. We participated in #clapforourcarers in March and the resounding applause, whoops and whistles carried through the air reduced me to tears. Solidarity of strangers is so powerful. This ritual will continue every Thursday at 8pm to show our gratitude for EVERYONE who continues to go out to work so we can stay home. I’ve put a phone alarm on, so I don’t get distracted and forget, as the days can seem a bit blurry at the moment.
Anyway, the reason for this blog was to share how I am staying sane and even enjoying myself more than it makes sense to be, through these crazy times. It is my hope that you too can embrace this situation, grow and learn from it and come out the other side wiser, happier and healthier.
Surround yourself with positive people. Ignore the fear-fuelled media hype. Sensationalism sells but is bad for your mental health. Be sensible about the situation and take precautions to minimise contact with the virus. But live from a place of love and gratitude rather than fear. Share positive posts and funny memes about all the good that is coming out of this and all the amazing people who are making a positive difference in society.
Keep fit. Most of us students lead quite sedentary lives in front of computer screens, yet keeping physically active has many psychological and physiological benefits to improve quality of life despite our apparent lack of freedom at the moment. Take a walk in the sunshine, and appreciate nature, or participate in a you tube exercise programme. Many mature students have children at home who may not be able to expend their energy easily. This can make studying with hyper kids quite difficult. However, Joe Wicks is currently the nation’s self-designated PE teacher. Every weekday at 9am on his YouTube channel he streams a 30 minute workout aimed at kids, but it’s fun and great for the whole family, regardless of age. He has also pledged to donate all profits from this to NHS. What a sweetheart! So even if you don’t want to join in, at least tune in and you’ll be helping out the NHS! :o) Also, university sports hub has given us access to Les Mills workouts, which are intense but amazing. Give yourself the gift of gorgeous endorphins to get you through the day with a bounce in your step.
Keep a sensible routine. You don’t have to stick rigidly to a timetable anymore, but a rough guideline can help you feel more focused. I also have a more relaxed routine at the weekend to differentiate it from the other 5 days! Although, I guess the weekend doesn’t always have to be a Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps choose any two consecutive days you’d prefer, to unwind and rejuvenate. Get sufficient sleep. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and eat fresh fruit. There is an abundance of fresh produce compared to pasta, toilet roll and handsoap and your body will thank you for it. Minimise junk food in your cupboards so you won’t be tempted to eat it. I notice a pattern that when I start a new assignment I procrastinate and find myself regularly staring into cupboards looking for something to eat. This is why I don’t keep unhealthy snacks. It is my intention to come out of this experience fitter, healthier and happier. I have the perfect opportunity and I don’t want to waste it.
Play more and be creative. This is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with the kids. I ordered The Art Of Conversation which has sparked some happy chatter and helped us learn more about each other, that perhaps would not have come up in normal conversation. Have Zoom playdates with friends, play hangman or charades or whatever else translates well. Keep connected with friends and family. Catch up with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Social isolation doesn’t have to be on a mental level. I am feeling more connected to my friends, despite not being able to be with them in person because I am in contact more frequently. However, I am definitely looking forward to catching up with coffee playdates when this is all over.
Find at least 5 different things to be grateful for each day and keep a wish list of all the things you would love to do when this is all over. Enjoy some quiet time each day. If you have small, sticky kids, take the opportunity, when they are content and happily occupied, to give yourself a few moments to breathe and smile. Or play with them during the day and study when they are in bed. That is what I had to do when I studied for my Access course when my kids were small. If you have older kids, set boundaries so they give you time and space to concentrate, or do your schoolwork together.
Breathe and smile. Make the most of this situation, because we don’t know what is around the corner. Yet nothing lasts forever and this too shall pass. Be kind to yourself and others and don’t take life too seriously because no one gets out alive.
Happy Social Isolation! xXx