As we enter a third national lockdown, many young people are finding themselves in a new and unique situation: living on their own in their student accommodation for the first time. If you’re one of them, fear not. Though the situation may feel overwhelming right now, you can get through this. Below, we’ve put together some coping strategies to ensure you stay sane.
Spend your free time connecting with friends and family over FaceTime and Zoom. It’s easy to feel like you’re on your own when you’re living away from your loved ones, so catching up with them on a daily basis can make you feel more involved. If you’re worried you’re going to run out of things to talk about, set conversation starters or play charades. There are no hard and fast rules, and the chances are your pals will be off university too, wanting to kill time.
You can connect with others locally, too, by saying hello to your Amazon and Domino’s delivery drivers, waving to neighbours when you’re putting out the bins, and giving a quick “good morning” when you’re out on a walk. These little interactions can quickly add up and make you realise you’re not alone. Posting on your university Facebook group could help - it’s possible that there’ll be other students in halls and accommodation who are also isolated, and chatting to them about how you’re feeling and arranging future plans can give you hope.
Current lockdown rules allow an unlimited amount of exercise, so treat yourself to a new pair of walking shoes and get to explore your neighbourhood. Whether you’ve been at university for two weeks or two years, the chances are you’re yet to explore every nook and cranny, so see what’s out there and have some fun. Getting some fresh air, Vitamin D, and a change of scenery can do wonders for your mood. If walking isn’t your thing, you could download the Couch to 5K app and challenge yourself or buy yourself a secondhand bike and start cycling.
Used to a more rigorous lifestyle and missing the gym? There are lots of things you can get up to in your student apartment. Nerd Fitness has some at-home workout ideas to help you.
Whether you used to be an avid gamer or you’re into crafting, find a hobby that can keep you busy and fill your downtime. It’s important not to set any unrealistic goals or expectations for yourself, such as writing a novel or selling your first piece of artwork, but immersing yourself into the things you love will keep you busy. It could be that you read through those books your friends bought you, or learn how to cook delicious meals. Whatever it is, finding a new hobby that takes your mind off the doom and gloom will do wonders for your mental health.
It’s hard not to feel miserable after watching the news for half an hour. If you’re finding the current situation challenging, disconnect from the news for a day or two. Delete news apps from your phone, turn off notifications, avoid the television and use social media sparingly. It’s okay not to know the ins and outs of the daily news briefings. In fact, it’s better not to know everything! Switch off and allow yourself to be oblivious to the situation for a while.
If you’re something of a social butterfly, suddenly finding yourself alone with unlimited time off can be tough. As well as throwing yourself into your studies (what activities can you be getting on with to increase your knowledge?), remember that the current situation will pass. Make plans for the future with your loved ones and keep yourself focused on the good times ahead. You’ll soon be back with your university pals drinking one too many cocktails in the Student’s Union. We promise! Until then, stay strong, stay determined, and stay positive.