In the last couple of weeks, the realisation that we are not coming back to university next term has been sinking in. Alongside a lack of motivation in the wake of all Easter term festivities being cancelled or postponed, the prospect of not going back to university until October is bleak. For finalists the blow is unimaginable.
With the whole summer in question, there seems to be a universal slump among fellow students. The internet provides us with an endless list of activities, but it is hard not to feel listless when contemplating when we will leave our houses and see our friends again.
Humans have the unique ability to think about the future and plan ahead and this means we may find it extremely difficult not to feel anxious about the inevitable weeks of uncertainty. As students, we are not only frustrated that we have lost a whole term of university, but also scared about the crisis and the damage it will probably do to people’s lives.
However, there have been several things in the last few days that have helped me to deal with this period of confinement, and to find something positive from the whole situation. The first is acceptance. As hard as it is, there is nothing left to do but accept that this is life right now, and it might be for some time. Accepting that we have no control over the situation and letting go of any thoughts of trying to plan anything for the next month or two is the first step to feeling less anxious about social isolation.
The world is changing rapidly. Conversations we had hours ago are irrelevant now, and we have no choice but to take each day as it comes. Disappointment is still settling in, but there is no point in fighting this, we will only make it harder for ourselves.
As a result, a part of me has begun to appreciate this enforced downtime. Having all this time stretched out in front of us after the intensity of university can be daunting. I have tried to see it as an opportunity to rest and recuperate after a whirlwind 6 months. We can take pleasure in the small things, like cooking, having a bath or sitting in the sun, as life has slowed down from its usual unstoppable pace.
On top of this, I have tried to spend less time reading, listening to and watching media coverage of the virus. The news was sending me into a panic every single morning and soon Covid-19 was the only thing I could think or talk about. Keeping up with the news is important, but there are so many rumours flying around; we can very easily get sucked into a downward spiral of doomsday figures and struggle to see anything hopeful about the current state of affairs.
As hard as it may be at first, sticking to a routine has been helpful in keeping a level of normality to my life. Friends have recommended writing a daily checklist, while at the same time not setting out to do too much each day. We don’t always have to be super productive or positive about the situation, we can allow ourselves to be angry, pessimistic and fearful. These feelings are normal, and it is important to be kind to yourself during this difficult period.
It has been easy to feel incredibly alone after months of living with our friends. When dealing with feelings of isolation, writing thoughts in a journal can help us to unwittingly get out of our heads, which we are currently spending a lot of time in. Loneliness has become an extremely negative word in our society. Learning what activities we enjoy doing in our own company helps to embrace solitude and counteract the anxiety we feel about not being surrounded by lots of people. At the same time, beginning daily or weekly virtual activities with our friends, from sharing a cup of tea to doing a joint workout, has helped me to feel less isolated despite being physically secluded.
The sense of community throughout this experience has already given me a lot to feel positive about. Volunteering in your neighbourhood will add to this, and it has made me feel like I am helping to combat the virus in a small way. It also reminds me of the one thing that regularly brings me out of a low moment: everyone is going through the same thing.
We are all collectively sharing this experience of isolation, and most of us are lucky enough to be doing it with family, and not alone. Amid all the confusion and fear, we are perhaps more connected than we were before.
Image: Gerd Altmann via PixaBay