Some people may well be psyched about another opportunity to snuggle up and get cosy for the next few weeks as a result of lockdown 2.0. On the other hand, many have been dreading the anxiety of being shut indoors for another month (especially with the shorter days and not being able to sunbathe pretending you're in the Algarve). Then again, some may have just resigned to their fate and thought - "screw it, I'm opening that bottle of wine!"
Now we've all been here before and are aware of what awaits us, so don't forget to reflect on your last lockdown experience and use it to create a lockdown that works for you. Adding structure to your day has never been more necessary and now is the perfect opportunity to provide some actual order to your life and not just the illusion that highlights, planners, and 'To Do' lists bring.
Here are my top tips for adding structure to your days as a student during lockdown 2.0.
1. Create a personal daily routine
Take some time out of your day to actually create a routine that works for you - and make it realistic. Don't immediately schedule a 5K run if you're not going to stick to it. Joe Wicks, the famous Body Coach, is reviving his previous lockdown workout which is high intensity but not boring or too difficult. Maybe try and start yourself off with that, or if you want something simpler (and less sweaty) opt for going out on a daily walk.
An effective daily structure needs a strong foundation which starts in the morning. If you struggle to get up like I do, especially in the winter, then try and start your day with something you look forward to. And - hear me out - why not take a cold shower? I know this sounds like a form of torture from a 20th century boarding school but there is a lot of evidence showing that cold showers can reduce depression and anxiety and improve your mood. Ultimately, if you stick to your routine you will feel more productive and fulfilled by the end of this. I promise.
2. Get creative with friends
Now just because we have to be socially distanced physically doesn’t mean that we have to be mentally distanced. In the previous lockdown we saw the trend of zoom quizzes, poker tournaments and the odd beer pong tournament over zoom (still not sure how that actually worked?). But this time we have Christmas just around the corner and I don’t know about you, but I normally try to do most of my Christmas shopping in November. Why not try and handcraft some presents with your flatmates? There are plenty of free online courses, use it as a great reason to hang out with your household. Just remember that if you do create some things to give away at Christmas, it’s the thought that counts.
3. Be careful about what you consume
I'm not just talking about the countless snacks that call out to you from the kitchen cupboard, but instead about your social media and TV consumption. TV and social media were complete saviours during the last lockdown. That being said, it does help to be selective about how and what you watch things, along with what you're watching. Obviously remaining social at this time is important, however we need to be careful not to spend all our time endlessly scrolling through social media, especially late at night (this will not help you get a good night’s rest) - believe me, I’m a regular victim of this. Try to use the time saved on something more productive. We may think we’re experts at multitasking, but our brains actually don’t like it when we're scrolling while watching Netflix - it will have a negative impact on your experience, no matter how tempting it is.
4. Studying from home
As tempting as it is to just sit back and pretend that all this isn’t happening, sadly this is real life and we can’t escape it. Here are some of my ideas when it comes to staying productive on uni work. Firstly, if you can work outside your bedroom - do! I don’t know about you but for me, when I study in my room I can often become tempted to have a quick lie down which obviously ends up lasting the whole morning - especially when I combine it with social media. Secondly, try treating studying like a 9-5 job. This will leave your evenings free for your daily self-care goals.
5. Make opportunities
Use this time to focus on something you always wanted to do but never did. This can include: connecting with someone in your chosen field whose work you've always admired, starting your own blog (don't underestimate how much work that takes), or perhaps start thinking about what is waiting for you after university.
6. Don't compare yourself to others
Don't feel pressured during this lockdown. We saw people on Instagram living their best lockdown lives forgetting that these insights are often filtered. Remember that Instagram is not necessarily reality. Please look after yourself. Have a sloppy day but don't let it turn into a sloppy week. I personally believe that looking good helps you feel good - just like what you get a fresh haircut. Find your balance between comfort and feeling well.
7. Talk about it
My final point is about mental health. Lockdown does have some serious psychological implications and now that we’re in a second lockdown in winter where the sunlight hours are dramatically reduced, we have to try even harder to not slip under. The difficulties in modern day associated with discussing mental health have been increased as a result of social distancing. Therefore, take a proactive approach to breach the taboo around mental health. You never know, you might just build a deeper connection with your friends if you talk about it in a safe and comfortable environment - even if it is over Zoom.
Ultimately, I’ll be using this time to make sure that what will start out as an opportunity to fill my day with a reasonable blend of studying and self-care does not stumble into isolation pandemonium with me threatening to murder my flatmates. Hopefully these tips will help you find that balance too!