The lockdowns were definitely a difficult time for most people, changing their routines and typical activities completely. That is why taking care of one’s mental health became more important than ever. In this blog post, I want to share a few of my stories about getting through lockdown, as well as ways in which the University of York helps students with their mental health.
Time management in lockdown
For me, the first weeks of lockdown were very stressful, due to a change of location and uncertainty about exams. I had to go back from my boarding school and I did not know whether IB exams would still be happening. I desperately needed a way to stay calm throughout these weeks.
A common lockdown problem that I faced early on was planning my own time. That’s when I started making my own daily schedules with balanced amounts of work and entertainment. What usually seemed to work great for me at that time was: 3 hours of work, 1 hour break, 3 hours of work. Although it definitely depends on personal preference. Some people need short, but more regular breaks and some people, like me, need longer working time followed by an appropriately adjusted break. I found it very helpful to stick to my written schedule and tick the boxes next to each planned activity. Doing that made me feel good about my time management and how much I was doing.
I realise many new students face a similar problem with time management when beginning university- there are a lot of differences between secondary school and uni in terms of time management. So definitely try to find a way of managing your time that works best for you.
As I’ve mentioned above, creating your own study schedule is an important challenge. It might be difficult to make, but can be even more difficult to keep. That is why appropriate motivation is so crucial.
My personal solution for finding the motivation to work is usually rewarding myself with watching or playing something only when I finish a part of my work (a paragraph in an essay, chapter in a book). It is usually a very good strategy, although sometimes I still struggle, especially if I have other things to do. That is why, especially now that lockdown restrictions are slowly going away, I’m using the technique of ‘a carrot and a stick’. ‘The carrot’ is a reward, like I’ve described, whereas ‘the stick’ is a punishment if work isn’t done. For example, I will not play any games before finishing an essay. This seems to work for me, but obviously, it isn’t for everyone! I think it’s very important to notice what works and what doesn’t for you if you’re trying to establish your own strategy.
Help from the University
The University and the Students’ Union (YUSU) offer a lot of different support options for students who are in a difficult position or just need someone to talk to.
Firstly, a well-maintained system of tutors, supervisors and department representatives provides many opportunities to discuss academic, as well as personal issues with others.
The college system is also very helpful in that matter. College staff are there to help with any problems students may have and they are very approachable during the day.
Should a problem arise outside of working hours, Nightline could also be helpful. Nightline is a listening service run by students, where you can share anything you want in absolute confidentiality. In case of more serious problems going on, the University also offers mental health support through services such as Open Door, which is operated by Mental Health Practitioners and Student Wellbeing officers. Religious students might also find talking to an appropriate Chaplain good for their mental and spiritual health.
So, if you’re struggling, worry not. The University of York offers a lot of support regardless of the severity of the problem.