Hey, these are strange times, and it’s normal to feel anxious - but we’ll get through this! Although we’re not trained mental health specialists, we sought out and compiled wellbeing advice which we hope you’ll find useful.
Before we mention anything else, we want to let you know that Student Minds lists advice on how to report cases of racism and xenophobia, which have sadly and unacceptably been on the rise. Student Minds are also worth checking out for a variety of resources, including links to Anxiety UK, No Panic and OCD Action. And remember that RCA Student Support continues all the usual operations online. You can get in touch with them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and they’ll be able to advise on a variety of personal circumstances, including financial issues.
Now, let’s talk about how you're doing…
The Government now announced social distancing measures; in a nutshell, what does this mean?
Social distancing is a set of measures which prevent and slow down transmissions. It’s important to practice even if you don’t have any symptoms because it’s possible to carry the virus and not know it because you don’t show any symptoms. Using the Government advice as a source (which we encourage you to read), the principles of social distancing are avoiding all physical contact with people outside of your household and all non-essential travel. You should work from home, avoid large gatherings - including with friends and family - and telephone your GP instead of coming in. You can still go out to buy food or other essentials but maintain a distance of at least 2 meters from others, and do this as infrequently as possible.
Through social distancing, you not only get to take protective measures for yourself, but also for the whole community, including the elderly and the most vulnerable. Think of it as a form of community service.
Self-isolating is the term used for the measures you will need to take if you are showing symptoms. Anyone with a high temperature and a new, persistent cough who lives alone, should remain at home for 7 days. If you live with other people and one of you starts to show symptoms, the whole household needs to self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation advice from the NHS is available here.
Ok, so I’m finding staying at home this much really hard.
We all find disruptions of our routine difficult - that’s just human nature - but there’s many ways to make this time more bearable.
Maintain a routine. It may be tempting to lounge around in pyjamas (as done before on several occasions by yours, truly) and keep your camera off during your remote seminars. But sticking to your usual waking hours, promptly getting dressed and having a nutritious breakfast - even writing down the schedule of your activities the day before - will give you a sense of continuity and purpose. It will also mean when everything does return to normal, you will not have to readjust to your usual routine.
Something that might help you is to have regular check-ins with your family and friends; aim to give them a call or a video chat regularly. This is especially important if you are far away from family, and unsure when you might be seeing each other again. Don’t cancel your family and friend reunions; postpone them until further notice to have something to look forward to.
Have a look at other the suggestions made by the charity Mind, who came up with lots more great coping strategies.
I’m a bit lost and my mental health isn’t great at the moment. How can I look after it?
We hear you. Depending on how you feel, you should consider reaching out to student support by emailing email@example.com. And remember that although we are not coming into the office, we are still available on the email, phone and through Google Hangouts, Monday to Thursday, 9 - 5. Please chat to us!
If you’re struggling with negative feelings of helplessness or being overwhelmed, focusing on the positive impacts you're having by following WHO’s advice and the Government’s social distancing measures can help you realise how much you’re doing just by staying at home. By practicing all of the recommended steps, you are helping your community and preventing the spread - and that’s a lot! Also, if you feel well and able to do so, you could volunteer at your local Covid-19 mutual support group, or even drop your elderly neighbour a note asking if they need anything from the shops. Find other ideas on how to help yourself and your community here.
If you’re feeling anxious because of the onslaught of information in the news outlets and on social media, there are steps you can take to reduce your stress levels, such as limiting the amount of time you spend checking the news. For example, you could look at news once in the morning and once in the evening, sticking to slots of 20 minute each time. The reporting on Covid-19 is very fast-paced, so you will likely stay better informed - or at least, more capable of actually retaining the information - if you focus on daily summaries as opposed to every incoming headline. Read WHO’s advice on mental health here.
Under current government advice as of the time of writing this article, it is fine to go out for a walk or even a jog to get some fresh air, once a day, considering you keep the recommended distance to others. In recent days, many gyms brought in the option to ‘freeze’ memberships, several online workout streaming services started running free trials, and Youtube remains full of free home exercise and yoga routines.
Remember that your SU is just an email or a phone call away in these difficult times. We send you and your families our warmest wishes and virtual hugs, and look forward to seeing you again. Until then, take care, feel free to check in with us and be kind to each other.