There’s so much information out there about keeping well during the ongoing lockdown, and no doubt you will have seen a lot of it. We thought it would be good to cut through some of this and help guide you to a few choice sources of information and support.
Our other articles so far tackle money and housing, careers, and hosting a banging online quiz.
Feeling anxious, concerned or distressed by what is going on
This has been a really worrying time for everyone, no matter how resilient. For those that already struggle with their mental health, this may be doubly so.
Many people feel anxious or stressed some of the time – it’s a healthy response to feel apprehensive or worried about upcoming challenges: low levels of stress can help you to do well in examinations or assessments, or when you’re speaking in public or trying out something new. Anxiety and stress can become a problem when it gets in the way of doing things that are good for you, and starts to damage your quality of life.
We have found a few tips and suggestions that might help with this.
Avoiding speculation and knowing the facts
There’s a lot of rumor and speculation about the virus. Suddenly there’s a feeling that we need to become mini-experts in virology, epidemiology and medicine!
Young Minds suggests that you stay informed, and use reputable sources such as the government and the NHS.
They also talk about stories and posts on social media. We’d suggest that if you’re concerned about something you read, you should check at least two other reputable sources (such as mainstream newspapers, government sources or the NHS) to make sure you know the facts.
Overexposure to the news
At the same time, Young Minds suggest that while staying informed is important, “news reports could also become overwhelming”.
They suggest limiting the amount of time you spend on this while distracting yourself with other activities.
With regard to social media, they refer to their #Ownyourfeed campaign, aimed at taking control of your social media.
Grieving the loss of your expectations
Three University of London students worked together to create a Coping during with Covid 19 guide by students, for students.
It’s well worth a read and many topics covered in that article are also touched on there.
On page 8 you will find a piece about coming to terms with the changes, and grieving for your expectations.
They point out that “the loss of the rest of their [students’] academic year is a real and hard truth”. They go on to say that “in such unique circumstances, it’s okay to be overwhelmed or not feeling so positive right now” but point out that it’s “important to process the fear and allow yourself time to acknowledge and experience whatever reactions or feelings you may have”.
Knowing what you can do and staying in control
A lot of the resources and sources of support we’re referring to in this article are about maintaining control over your situation.
Maintaining a sense of control can help reduce anxiety and stress, and help you to feel like “you’ve got this” and can cope.
There are many things that are outside of our control right now, but many of the resources linked to on this page remind us that we are in control over the media we consume, and our day to day lives. For example, on their page about coronavirus, Mind talk about eating well and taking care of your environment at home.
Staying in control of your studies
If how you are feeling is starting to affect your studies, we’d recommend you read some of the resources provided by City’s Student Counselling and Mental Health team.
The team have drawn together a guide on managing exam anxiety and recognising and coping with stress. You can find more here on our Study Well resources page.
Feeling guilty about not meeting your goals
At the start of the lockdown there was a lot of talk about all of the things we can achieve during the lockdown. Many talked about learning new skills, like learning how to paint, knit or bake.
As the lockdown has dragged on, you might not have become the new Picasso or managed to knit a whole new jumper. That’s okay!
Lockdown introduced new stresses. Many will have quickly found that lockdown did not mean having more free time to pursue hobbies and goals.
It’s important to be kind to yourself, and not judge yourself by (possibly unrealistic) standards about how you use your time.
“Be your best self” they said, but it’s okay if your best self is taking the time to unwind and catch up with Tiger King.
Reaching out for support
The Mental Health Foundation suggest have some tips about keeping connected with your friends and family, but beyond this you might feel that you need further support.
Support from the SU and “Supporting your Academic Success”
We’d strongly recommend any student worried about missing, or not doing well, in assessments speak to someone about the new “Supporting your Academic Success” process. This process replaces the extenuating circumstances process for the rest of the academic year for most students. More information can be found here, but you can also get one to one advice and support from our Union Advice team.
Sources of support
We are aware that everyone is different and looks after their mental health and wellbeing differently. As such, some students may find counselling helpful, some might prefer to speak to a Chaplain at City (who can provide wellbeing and pastoral support to all students – students of all faiths and none), or some might find peer support their best way of supporting their mental wellbeing.
Here are some extra resources for peer support and looking after yourself.
Please see here how to access the mental health services provided by the NHS - https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/how-to-access-mental-health-services/.
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Muslim Youth Helpline (MYH)
0808 808 2008
MYH is a national charity that provides a free counselling service which is culturally and faith sensitive. Available via the telephone, email, internet and a face-to-face service in London.
Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.
SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30pm to 10.30pm)
Peer support forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum
National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Information and support for LGBT communities and their allies. Contact Stonewall's Information Service FREEPHONE 0800 0502020. Lines are open 9:30 - 4:30 Monday to Friday.