Final thoughts on the year: a students perspective
This article will outline some tips for maintaining productivity and keeping yourself positive, from a student’s perspective, based on learnings from 2020 going into the New Year.
With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to affect almost every aspect of normal life across the country, 2020 has come to somewhat of a standstill. If you’re a university student, like myself, it’s only natural to think about how it impacts you (just like everyone else). Here’s my recollection of the year: It started like any other and then March hit and it very very quickly deteriorated. This article will outline some tips for maintaining productivity and keeping yourself positive, from a student’s perspective.
Now controversially, I’ve really thrived doing online school but I also appreciate how difficult a time this year has been for many, especially students who have had to continue learning, working and even taking examinations throughout this madness. This probably isn’t the opportunity that we had in mind, and I’m sure that for many new university students this is an even stranger time — but think about how you can use this time away from life’s usual priorities, to start something new. How about honing your cooking skills? Spend some time investing in research or getting ahead in your studies? Could you use this time to start a business or focus on a project?
By focusing on something you’re interested in, it can distract you from constant Corona shenanigans, which is what I did.
I started my own business early this year that I have been focused on and through that I have met some amazing people who I am now lucky enough to call friends. Now, around Christmas or ‘the holidays’, I’m focusing on my baking skills, as like many, I have a bit of a sweet tooth.
Staying home is the most important and effective thing you can do to help overcome Covid-19. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t feel natural to practice social distancing with our mates and home can begin to feel claustrophobic, especially if you have a difficult relationship with your family or housemates. With my own mental health struggles even outside of the current corona space, being at home and having to quarantine, it has been vital for me to prioritise myself and practice self-care. Things as simple as making your bed and making sure you get dressed in the morning can help to make you feel nicer. Why not commit to doing exercise videos, guided meditations and eating healthily? Even though I'm bad at keeping up with some sort of exercise routine if I’m honest with you, it is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. If you’re not someone who usually stays at home to study, regulating your own time and utilising resources to their full potential can be a challenge. When you’re in the same space every day for weeks on end it becomes all the more important to create a schedule. Regular breaks will ensure that your mind stays fresh and you don’t burn out. Stepping away from your laptop and reading a book, playing a game or even going for a walk will help you clear your head. Dissertations, exams and assignments are stressful enough for the student community at the best of times but COVID-19 has added this extra layer of uncertainty and stress, to an already difficult time. It’s essential that you do not put too much pressure on yourself, but if you can find ways to be productive this will be one of the best ways to keep upbeat and remain on top of your studies. I’m guilty of this because I’m an absolute perfectionist myself, but if there’s anything that therapy has taught me, it’s that it’s not exactly possible to be perfect and I should be easier on myself, as should you because times are so tough right now.
Remember that this isn’t forever. Going from several lectures and seminars a week, seeing your housemates and classmates regularly, and having the freedom of your university campus to roam, to then being in lockdown is bound to have a knock-on effect for any student. Despite the past couple of months being slightly crazy, I’ve actually come to appreciate the lockdown. It has been annoying not being able to see my friends or my family, and me personally, going to university 5 hours away from home, means a whole lot of homesickness, but I’ve had so much more time to work on myself and do what I enjoy. Lockdown has certainly given me a new perspective on lots of aspects of my life. It’s been easy to fall into bad habits with my diet. For me, a takeaway has been too tempting, and a smoothie from campus just seemed to cheer me up after a long day. And sometimes that is okay, it’s equally important to treat yourself but if you are struggling with maintaining a healthy diet, meal prepping was an absolute lifesaver. I started cooking food that would last me a good few days. I bought frozen fruit and meats so that I could easily make basic and healthy meals that didn’t take me long to prepare. Another thing I came to appreciate was a good salad. At first, my flatmates who are both very healthy in their eating, inspired me to test the idea of a decent salad for lunch, and obviously, I was skeptical, I mean, who wants to eat rabbit food? But with the right dressing and a bit of meat and extra bits, nuts and so on, I actually really enjoyed it. As a light lunch, it seemed to put me in an energetic mood, rather than simply heating up last night’s leftovers. I highly recommend leaving the takeaways for cheat days, instead of just bad days like I did. It cleared my head and made me feel motivated each day to get up and there are many healthy alternatives to typical cheat meals, you just need to look!
I wish that before lockdown I could have seen how disconnected I was from my friends, and their lives. Sometimes, these lessons are the hardest to come to terms with, but I know now that I have some amazing friends that I share mutually beneficial relationships with. Since lockdown began, social media has been my only form of communication with the people closest to me. Now, I actively look at my friend’s stories, and I see what they’re up to; I spark up conversations in reply to their daily routines and it’s made me realise that I wasn’t truly connected with my closest friends, because I didn’t take the time to take an interest in what they were doing. What lockdown has taught me is that social media can be a really positive thing; it links you to the people you are closest to and creates bonds that otherwise may never have been made. I know that in just a couple more months, I’ll be back with the people I love, doing what I love, working again, and getting back to a routine. But I’ll be doing these things happier and wiser; lockdown has taught me that I need to take care of myself, and hopefully, this article will inspire you to do so too. Although we have all now been in a lockdown before, this second one might feel slightly different, after a summer of more relaxed measures that we all started to get used to, feeling a bit limited by lockdown is kind of unavoidable, but you shouldn’t let yourself feel trapped by it. In Cornwall we were lucky enough to remain in Tier 1 for a lot of lockdown which meant a lot more freedom, with many spaces where me and my housemates can safely get out to for some headspace and a little break from being inside. No matter how you do it, keep people around you and make sure you feel supported.
Since the first lockdown began and despite all the boredom, I have grown to appreciate education more than ever before. I can sleep for longer, stay in my pyjamas for days and enjoy more breaks, eating when I feel like it of course. It hasn’t always been easy though. It did take some getting used to. I did go through some difficulties in the beginning. I remember when sending my finished work to my teacher was an accomplishment within itself. Since the beginning of the lockdown, the importance of family has really helped me emotionally and mentally and though coming home after being independent for so long is very jarring, I’m glad they are there for emotional support and I do enjoy spending more time together.
My life during quarantine has indeed changed. My everyday routine has been made different. It has taken some getting used to. Online learning has been a challenge at times but as I have had months of experience it has become a part of my new everyday life. I feel like the world has suddenly been put on hold and we’re all eager to get back in motion, and kickstart our lives again. Perhaps I had never thought how lucky indeed I am to be able to go out whenever I like and I took the life and the people around me for granted because it was just a given that you’d be able to see them again. This experience has definitely made me wiser and has taught me to not only appreciate what I have but also made me reconnect with friends almost forgotten and I’ve never been more grateful.
2nd Year Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management, Falmouth University.