“in these uncertain and challenging times”
Students are no stranger to this phrase, from department emails to tutor feedback and official university statements. While it’s provided a lot of potential for meme material, that shouldn’t detract from the truth of the phrase.
These ARE challenging and uncertain times. It’s frightening not knowing when we’ll be allowed to leave our homes. It’s worrying to think about our future during times of economic hardship. All the synonyms in the thesaurus can’t convey how scared we feel right now.
As cliché as it sounds, you aren’t alone. At times like this, it’s just as important to protect your mental health as it is to protect your physical health. I’ll be sharing some of the ways I’ve found most useful for keeping my anxiety levels as low as I can.
Keep in touch
When I returned to Singapore from the UK, I was given a government order to self isolate for 2 weeks. As soon as that was fulfilled, Singapore went into lockdown for month. During this period, I didn’t feel like talking to anyone even when I was bored or feeling overwhelmed with my situation.
It took a surprise call from a friend to realise that shutting everyone out was only making me feel even more low. So, my first piece of advice? Be engaged!
Hearing someone’s voice after a long time was such a mood booster for me. I’ve always found it harder to express myself over a message even though it’s usually more convenient. Social distancing can be done socially and while it’s an adjustment, it’s something that I’m glad I decided to persevere with.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to social distance socially, you can check out my recent article.
Keep up to date… in moderation
Humanity has and may very well continue to suffer from global pandemics. Even so, globalization and the rise of social media means we can never escape news about the pandemic.
This has both its benefits and its pitfalls.
Staying informed will always be a positive. Knowing what the current guidelines and legislations are eased my anxiety because with more information I felt more in control. However this can go south very quickly. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the sources available on the pandemic. I went from feeling in control about the situation to being drowned in sensationalist headlines and fake news circulating on WhatsApp.
Checking the news obsessively brought me no peace, so I decided that a break from the news is exactly what I needed. I took that time away from the media to set myself some boundaries. I’ve limited how many sources I look at, always take every chain message with a grain of salt and only look at government sourced websites. I’ve even seen major newspapers get it wrong sometimes!
Keep it in perspective
It was really tough for me to accept that with a pandemic comes a loss of control. For the most part, the answers I was looking for couldn’t be found. I would obsessively scour the internet for hours, finding nothing and feeling worse every minute.
What helped me the most was making a list of all my worries and fears. I then separated them into two categories; what I could control and what I couldn’t control. With what I could control, I then devised a plan of how exactly I could alleviate my worries and fears with the resources I had. That’s the easy part. My list of what I couldn’t control was much longer and so to avoid dwelling on these I turned to my coping methods.
My fellow content ambassadors and I have written a few articles that could be useful when wanting to cope or distract yourself. You can check out my articles on mindfulness and Carola’s article on meditation. Megan has a great article on burnout amongst university students which is relevant as we transition to online learning.