Readjusting to Change in the Wake of Coronavirusby Newcastle University
It’s fair to say that none of us could have anticipated an event such as this and we may be surprised at how feelings of stress or worry are manifesting in new ways.
Getting to grips with the current climate is enough of a challenge, without having to manage our finances, our studies, the wellbeing of those close to us, and our own wellbeing too.
However, try to remind yourself that this period of unease is not so much about working from home, and more about working as much, or as little, as feels appropriate for you right now. It’s important to make this distinction, and not to put the same level of expectation on yourself as you did before this all started.
It’s alright to feel distracted. It’s fine if you can’t focus. It’s not a problem if you’re procrastinating a little more. Everybody else feels exactly the same way. Though we may not all be in the same boat, we’re certainly weathering the same storm.
In this blog post, we’ve put together some suggestions on how to adjust to all the changes going on around you, including simple ways to inject some normality and structure into your day-to-day life.
We’ve also included the contact details of organisations that can assist you if you’re struggling with your mental health.
How can I make things feel more normal?
Find opportunities for human interaction
Whether you’re staying with family, housemates, or alone, it’s likely even the biggest introverts amongst us are restless for some outdoor time and fresh faces to interact with.
If you’re going a little stir crazy, try to make an active effort to socialise and engage with other people. Many free video chat platforms, such as Zoom and Skype, offer the chance to unite with your friends for a catch-up.
Though it’s important to share your concerns and talk about how you’re feeling; you may find your worries are amplified by your friends’ concerns, and vice versa.
Consequently, try to be mindful of how often you’re reading the news and swapping stories with those close to you. It’s easy to find Covid-19 is dominating most of your conversations, but it may not always be healthy if you’re already feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
You may also want to swap out your favourite playlist for a chatty podcast while you work. Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast offers advice from celebrities and experts on how to work through feelings of low mood. Having friendly voices in the background while you go about your day is just one handy way to dispel feelings of loneliness.
Mimic your old routine
When you’re working and studying in the same space that you’re supposed to rest, it’s understandable that you may find it hard to unwind. By implementing a routine, it helps you block out your day and make time for important things, such as activities that help you manage your mental health.
Furthermore, an inconsistent sleep routine has been heavily linked to poor mental health. If you’re able, try to stick to your old daily routine. Small consistencies, such as getting up at a reasonable time and going to bed when you would normally, can help ground you during times of crisis.
Get as much fresh air as possible
Nature, sunlight and fresh air all have an incredible ability to diffuse feelings of worry, stress and anger. If you’re spending a lot of your days in one room or studying in one space, try having your window open. Alternatively, leave your front door open and take a few deep breaths and fresh air breaks throughout the day.
Another way of cheating your mind into thinking it’s getting some time with nature is listening to nature sounds such as ocean waves, bird songs or rainfall.
Many of us have also been investing in plants to improve the air quality of our homes and help us feel closer to nature. As mentioned before, if you find yourself in the same area most of the day, why not relocate some of your house plants to be nearer to you while you work, study or recharge?
Keep your brain stimulated
Long days spent indoors may be making you feel a little lethargic or demotivated. This is completely normal and you shouldn't punish yourself if you've noticed a drop in productivity.
However, it is important to keep your brain active. Is there a language you have always wanted to learn? Perhaps there’s a history podcast you enjoy, or a film you’ve been meaning to watch? As much as you shouldn’t pressure yourself to be productive every day, picking up a new hobby or trying any of the above are all great ways of exercising your brain.
I need some help
We can do our best to follow every bit of advice out there, but it's not always so simple. Unfortunately, though a means to an end, the conditions of living in isolation are very conducive to poor mental health.
However, you don't have to go through this alone. Whether you're struggling to get through each day, have noticed some red flags in your behaviour or maybe you just need to talk, there are people and organisations on hand to support you.
Below, we've listed just a few of the wonderful organisations out there.
- Elefriends with Mind
Mind runs an online peer support community called Elefriends, where you can share your experiences and engage with others.
24/7 text support with Shout
If you’re experiencing a personal crisis and feel unable to cope, text Shout to 85258 for support on urgent issues such as suicidal thoughts, self-harm and more.
24/7 over-the-phone support with Samaritans
Samaritans are available to listen at any time of the day or night, regardless of what’s troubling you. You can reach them on 116 123.
CALM over-the-phone support
Call 0800 58 58 58 any day of the week from 5pm to midnight if you’ve hit a wall. Alternatively, CALM also has a free web chat service if you don't feel comfortable speaking to someone over the phone.
- Newcastle University Student Health and Wellbeing support services
If you're a current student and staying in Newcastle during this difficult time, be sure to refer to our Student Health and Wellbeing support services. Here, you will also find contact details for each of our specialist disability teams. Learn more about Covid-19 wellbeing support available to current students.
We hope you have found this blog useful, and we also highly recommend reading the NHS's guide to mental wellbeing whilst staying at home for more inspiration.
We also hope you and those close to you are well and safe. As a University, we're doing all we can to support our students (current and prospective), our fellow colleagues and the NHS. To read about some of the wonderful work our academics have done, read our blog post on how Newcastle University is joining forces with the NHS.
Published By Newcastle University on 16/04/2020 | Last Updated 09/03/2021