Even during simpler and safer periods, being a student, especially a fresher, is a potentially challenging time for both wellbeing and mental health. Meeting new people, acclimatising to unknown environments and routines, all while trying to juggle the pressures of education leaves little room for an essential work-life balance. However, with the added stress growing from the COVID pandemic, not limited to government restrictions and various degrees of lockdown, the challenges that students now face are overwhelming.
To make matters worse, the supportive and enjoyable activities that students typically rely upon are either changing or being altogether lost. Socialising is also changing, now being performed in limited numbers, at a distance, digitally, or, prevented. It’s such an extreme situation that some students have compared their isolation to confinement, saying that it feels like paying to be in prison.
Understanding and accommodating for your mental health during these times is crucial. Even when faced with deadlines, your wellbeing should take priority, and so, to help, I am sharing the following advice.
The Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO, is a widespread phenomenon, one now exacerbated by the coronavirus. While limiting yourself to socialising within your accommodation or through video calls, it can feel stressful to be exposed to photos and stories of others who are socialising or enjoying activities. Social media, a key culprit in this scenario, and a platform often styled toward showing the highlights of our experiences, can have a dramatically worse impact during this time too, leading you to believe that your university experience is of lesser value.
While doing your best to avoid FOMO, consider limiting your exposure to social media or filtering your channels to avoid those designed to impress, showcase, and influence. Instead, spend time focussing on the people and activities that inspire and comfort you.
Limit Your News
Information is overwhelming. Emails, messages, social and news media, each add up, creating a to-do list that needs managing. Dealing with each piece of correspondence, doing so promptly or with detail, requires energy. On top of the information required for your studies and socialising, broadcast news is constantly updating with new data, which not only adds to the list of information but also creates stress and worry, especially as case numbers surge. It can be hard to avoid exposure to so much information but, as it creates stress, it is important to try and limit or better filter your intake.
Scrutinise the information you consume, selecting that which is essential for your course and wellbeing. Work with your friends to keep updated with news, sharing information at a steadier or slower pace, ensuring that each student is able to find a healthy balance, preventing them from being overwhelmed.
Make Socialising Work
While our traditional forms of socialising might not currently be possible, it remains important for our mental health to maintain as much social contact as possible, remembering that isolation is a key trigger for mental illness.
Whether making an effort to attend video call meet-ups, making time for the people isolating with you, or seeking out socially distant engagements, by choosing to maintain contact with others, either for a casual coffee or intimate discussion, you’ll be supporting better mental health, even if it occurs without physical contact.
Even while following this advice and making the effort to take care of yourself, a person is still susceptible to anxiety and other mental problems. If you feel that your own wellbeing is starting to suffer or have concerns about someone close to you, there is professional help available and seeking it is sometimes an essential step to recovery.
If you are looking for counselling in Bristol, I am available to help. My services and areas of support can be found on the Bristol Counselling and Psychotherapy website, or, if you’d like to contact me directly, I can be reached via phone on 07751271709, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.