As you all are most certainly aware, we have to finish the school year from remotely. Which means writing all your assignments and exams from home or in the case of first years, taking online modules. Whichever is the setting in your case you have probably faced some difficulties when doing this while being in quarantine.
Being in quarantine can feel like you are imprisoned at home and you are cut off from all the things that give you joy while also being away from your friends. And due to the lack of mobility, you may feel like you are stuck and therefore, start becoming less and less productive each day.
Personally, at some point, I had the feeling that 'school was optional; which is most certainly not the case. Binge-watching Netflix while stressing about my assignments due, has become my daily routine for the first couple of days in quarantine. I have felt my mood going down and realised it is not the way to move forward. So, I had to find a way to preserve my mental health and also increase my productivity. Because even though it feels absurd that we are home and still have to study, we can’t avoid it.
In this little post, I will try to list you all the ways that I have used to look after my wellbeing after spending 20+ days in quarantine. First, let’s start with the academic part.
I have personally realised that my days had gone by without me doing anything honourable that day, yet I was never able to recall how I spent all that time. So, my first advice would be:
1. Plan your days and stick with it!
At first, it may sound useless to do so, but as the pressure of seminars and lectures and other academic responsibilities are gone you are left with only your intrinsic motivation which may not be the highest at all time. I found that planning my day from start to finish has vastly increased my productivity.
Set yourself a time that you want to wake up at. Plan your day, plan how much you want to study and try to stick with it. As soon as you do so you will immediately realise that the day is extremely long, and you have so much time to do things that give you joy as well as your mandatory obligations.
2. Find a study buddy and study in intervals.
After realising that both I and my friends have struggled to do our daily work and been super unproductive, we started to schedule ‘study dates’. Just set a time to when you will both be studying. Turn on your FaceTime so you can see and hear each other. Study for 45 mins then take a 15-mins to break to chat and relax, then repeat as many times as you want to. This way you will have someone who keeps you accountable for actually doing work and also you won’t be able to use your phone because the FaceTime is playing from it.
Using these 45-minute study intervals will also increase your productivity, as you will never overwhelm yourself, but will still make a lot of progress after doing a couple of them each day.
3. Keep your study environment clean.
This might sound trivial but in reality, it is more important than ever. The environment which you study in can influence your productivity and affect your work ethic. Now that you are (hopefully) staying at home all day, you have to make sure that you keep your surrounding clean so it will give you a little extra motivation.
About your mental well-being. I have personally struggled with being locked into the house and having essentially “nothing to do”. So, to avoid having these thoughts and feeling depressed while at home I think you should pay attention to 5 main things to keep a balance.
1. Utilize your free time
After the first couple of days at home, I have realised my ‘phone screen time’ was rapidly increasing, as I had no other idea on how to occupy myself while at home. But I had to learn that using your phone 10+ hours a day does more harm than good. So my advice would be to write yourself a list of all the things that you ever wanted to do but ‘didn’t have the time to’. And whenever you start planning your next day, try and put one of those things in as your relaxation time. They can be anything from learning yoga, baking a cake or starting to learn another language.
2. Eat Well
It may sound really simple at first, but as we are all quarantined we are pretty much entertaining ourselves with eating more than we usually do and in some cases more unhealthy. Take your time when you eat, try to eat regularly and healthy so it would make you feel better while also boosting your energy level. Try and keep a record of all that food that you have had in a day, so you will never start eating ‘just because of pure boredom’.
3. Sleep well and try meditation.
As I have mentioned it before, try and stick to a sleeping schedule. I am not saying you have to wake up at 7 am every day but try to find a pattern which best suits you. Try to be in bed at a reasonable time. Lack of sleep in a huge contributor to mental health problems so having a decent sleeping pattern can lift your mood.
Also, you might have already thought about learning some meditation techniques. Now is the perfect time for it, with no distractions and the perfect setting to form a new habit for yourself.
4. Exercise at home with friends.
In most countries going outside for a quick walk or run is still allowed given that you are still able to practice social distancing. Try to build the exercise into your daily schedule and take time to care for yourself that way. It reduces stress and makes you feel and sleep better.
If you don’t have the opportunity to go out ( or you just don’t want to) you still have numerous options to exercise at home. Warwick Sport has introduced some online classes which you can join in from home. But you can also access endless at-home workout plans on YouTube or on numerous free fitness apps, which will not only guide you with the exercise but will also provide you with a whole 30-day fitness plan.
To keep you motivated I would advise you to have a friend you do this with. I do yoga and aerobic with my friends almost every night. Apart from it being so much fun, we get to spend some time together while also exercising.
5. Don't forget to relax.
We tend to overwork ourselves during exams season or as a result of all the previous procrastination, we usually punish ourselves by taking time away from relaxation. But it’ not the way to go forward. If you do good reward yourself! Schedule a movie or a reading session into your daily routine. You need something that recharges you and helps you relax and focus on other than working. Keeping the balance between work and relaxation is the key to productivity. And if you manage to do that you can get a study pattern that is also sustainable long term.
Additionally, don’t forget about the university’s Wellbeing services!
They offer you online skills sessions where you can have workshops on ‘how to deal with anxiety’, ‘tackle exam stress’ or ‘how to be more productive’.
They have also set up a separate folder just for COVID-19 related things that will help you get through these rather difficult times,
You also probably have heard of the Wellbeing Masterclass that’s been running at the university for the whole duration of term 2. Now they have continued to operate remotely. You can join into any online session at 4.30 (UK time) from Monday-Thursday or you can access the audio material of the Masterclass session on the Wellbeing website.