Is it just me or does it feel like everyone is beating around the bush? Or being unrealistic? Or even just seem confused about what is going on? We keep hearing the terms ‘unprecedented times’, or ‘a year like no other’, and yet, somehow, we still seem hopeful that our time at university will not be majorly impacted by it.
At Coventry University, the majority of classes are now online with a few face-to-face sessions. We, as a student body, cannot help but feel overwhelmed by a variety of emotions such as nerves, worry, and, possibly, even anger.
Many first years may seem to feel they are the ‘unlucky’ ones, having their – possibly - first university experience in the midst of a pandemic. Others may be worried about how this will impact their grades and may be upset that their final year will not be the same, or that they will enter the job market at the worst it has ever been.
All of us have questions such as: ‘will there be a second lockdown?’, ‘will university be changed like this forever?’, ‘will we ever be in ‘Covid-19 free’ times?’, all being valid questions and heightening anxiety for the majority of people.
Whilst I am not here with an answer to all your questions (nor will you find anyone with the answers to these), I am here to say we are in this together. This seems to be an overused phrase, even used by celebrities, who clearly are not in the same situation as us. However, in our case, we are all facing a very similar thing.
We are a generation told that we spend too much time online; yet behold, a pandemic arrives and we are told to spend hours watching lectures, hours trying to stay in touch with friends, and hours video calling our relatives we are not allowed to meet – what do you know, all online. We seem to be a generation being blamed for a second wave, after being told we should go out and have half price off many restaurants and food outlets. The biggest thing being impacted in all of this is our mental health: something we should not forget.
During university, as well as having the stress of being a student and everything that comes will that, many may experience ‘bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear which will trigger mental health conditions or exacerbate existing ones’1??. Therefore, here are three tips we can use to help with our mental health:
We should accept things are different this academic year, and instead of getting ourselves in a rut about it, we should look for the positives. Like what? Maybe about how, on our lazy days, we can wake up 10 minutes before our 9am and get away with it, or maybe how we got to virtually meet someone famous in our course’s field - but they maybe never would have come face to face. Or maybe it is just the simple fact that, besides university, you get to spend so much more time with your family than you normally would have (and maybe a bit more than you could stand). It is important to look for the positives, because negative or faulty thinking can be a cause of mental health issues.
Go outdoors. I think this is a very apt choice, because with a lot of so-called ‘university life’ being online, some may forget that it is important to get some fresh air and also keep active. This is crucial for good mental health. Of course, don’t forget to wear a mask to help keep yourself and others safe!
Last but not least, make sure you get help. It is okay not to be okay. However, it is fundamental that you reach out when you need it. Please have a look at the student portal website and navigate to check what Coventry University offers to provide support: https://livecoventryac.sharepoint.com/sites/students-healthandwellbeing