Studying at university in this current climate has been a drastic change. With university courses being moved online nationwide, as well as social events such as university society meetups and simply going out with friends, students have been made to adapt to a way of learning that they have never experienced before. Staying at home and being concerned with the sudden change in university learning have caused students to experience low energy and anxiety. I had the opportunity to speak to Kath Caffrey from the Charlie Waller Trust about how this change in learning at university has affected students and their mental health. She provided five tips for dealing with low energy and anxiety while studying online at university.
Staying at home and doing online learning probably means sitting behind a desk all day and occasionally walking around the house to get some food or check the mail. This minimal amount of physical activity may be the reason for low energy levels. Therefore, increasing the amount of physical activity you do can help build those energy levels up. There are a range of different exercises you can do such as yoga, jump rope or simply having a dance around your room. If you are living with your housemates in shared accommodation, maybe try a "get fit together" where you can all follow an exercise routine.
Maintaining your Diet
It is very easy to fall into the habit of comfort eating while staying at home. Constantly ordering takeaways and eating snacks can reduce energy levels a lot. Having a balanced diet is really important for giving your body the nutrition it needs to work well. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can make a difference. Making fruit smoothies and adding vegetable salads to your meals can be a fun, simple way to eat more healthy.
Drinking alcohol and coffee is so common in student culture. However, these can cause dehydration if you do not drink enough water. When you are dehydrated, your brain will not be at a good capacity. The recommended amount of water to stay hydrated is 6 to 8 glasses (or 2 litres). To help stay on track, try setting reminders on your phone throughout the day so you get enough water intake.
Staying at home every day can sometimes make you feel as though the days are blurring into one. Feeling anxious about the academic year and performance in your exams and coursework could cause your sleeping pattern to go awry. There are many ways to help get a regular sleeping pattern and ensure you get enough hours of sleep at night. Cutting down your screen time an hour before bed and listening to various sounds to help fall asleep are a few common ways you can get a sufficient amount of sleep.
Although it is difficult to be physically social due to lockdown, try scheduling video chats with your friends and family. You might be in your first year and feel overwhelmed with being put in university accommodation with people who you do not know. Or you may be in your second or third year feeling homesick because you cannot go back home due to lockdown. Reaching out to friends and family members to have a video chat with them could help you feel less anxious and homesick while at university.
Although university workload is high at the moment, finding time to do these things can help feel calmer about university work and boost energy levels and productivity. If you are a student and would like support with your mental health and wellbeing, The Charlie Waller Trust can help you find the support you need. Find out more at https://charliewaller.org/ and check out my interview with Kath Caffrey here.
Member of the SMaRteN Student Media Team and Psychology student at the University of Lincoln.
We are using this blog to help connect stakeholders across Higher Education interested in student mental health. If you have a project you are working on or an idea you'd like to develop, why not write your own blog post for us?