University students: tips and tricks to help you cope in a pandemic

Starting university is a massive step at the best of times – let alone during a pandemic.

Coronavirus restrictions may mean you can’t pop home for the weekend for mum’s home cooked meals.  And your plans to make loads of friends during a fun-filled freshers’ week may have fallen a bit flat, as many events are online only.

Meanwhile, with many of your lectures and seminars being done remotely, getting your work done requires heaps of self-motivation and energy.

Bearing all of this in mind, we’ve put some tips on how you can look after your mental wellbeing as a student this year.

Make room for zoom

Many of us are fairly weary of Zoom quizzes as a locked-down format of socialising, but it’s worth gritting your teeth and showing up.

While meeting people on group video calls isn’t without it’s awkward, connectivity-failed moments, it’s a starting point for you to meet people who you can then strike up friendships with in a more personable setting.  If you feel you might have clicked with even one person on the Zoom session, it’s a great opportunity to develop offline connections – suggest a socially distanced coffee.  Or if you’re still wary of the offline world, consider setting up online study groups and become better versed socialising online.

Struggling with your new household bubble?

If you don’t immediately connect with one or two people who are sharing your living space, it can become all too easy to cut yourself off from everyone.

But given that it’s now harder to go out and find friends elsewhere, try fighting the urge to retreat to your room and consider putting yourself in those situations that you don’t always feel comfortable in and persevere to form a healthy living situation. 

Connections with flatmates can last a lifetime, even if you don’t have the same immediate interests, the unique circumstances of this year are taking its toll on the isolated.  Afterall, even the most unlikely relationships can be formed and become mutually appreciated in times of need.

Forget FOMO

Whether you’re doing all your socialising online, or able to enjoy small face-to-face gatherings (at a social distance), it’s important to take time for yourself and not worry about FOMO – the fear of missing out.

Activities such as exercising, reading a book, or even just painting your nails – can be helpful ways to “decompress”, especially when life is as emotional and turbulent as it is now.

Try not to think about FOMO during that time.  While everything in moderation is the overarching aim, solitude can increase productivity and creativity.  So during quieter periods of socialising, why not try using the time effectively and give increased focus to your studies.  This could better prepare you for later in the academic year, when the exams are upon you.

Show your vulnerability

It is normal to feel worried, stressed, anxious and discombobulated as we are all living through the most extraordinary times.

There’s no-one unaffected by Covid-19 but it is important to remember that your experience is valid.  If you’re feeling low, talk about it early rather than waiting for it to build up, because mental health difficulties become mental health problems when they’re sat on and they grow.

It takes a lot of courage to send a text to let a housemate know you’re struggling, chances are they’ll be relieved and will tell you they’re finding things hard too.

If you feel overwhelmed or anxious, help is available.  Student Minds has set up Student Space to offer support, online and over the phone.