Although it may not have been surprising, given the perilous point at which the UK finds itself in the Coronavirus pandemic, the announcement that Hilary term will be online for most of the term will have been disappointing for many. Many Oxford students will not return to college accommodation at all this term, and even if they do, facilities and college life are likely to be even more limited than during Michaelmas term. In this difficult and isolating situation, I hope to share some things that I’m using to help me have the best term possible in these circumstances.
A worldwide pandemic is not a typical situation, nor one that we should expect ourselves to be able to cope with perfectly every day. During this time, self-compassion is absolutely essential. Whether you’re feeling scared about the virus, upset at not being able to meet friends or family, or angry about plans being cancelled, your emotions are completely valid. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to feel those emotions. If you’re having a day where studying seems like too big of a mountain to climb, try consciously not to berate yourself for it. The solution may be to take more frequent breaks during the day, to do less work, or perhaps even to take the day off and do non-academic things that make you happy instead. If you’re finding it hard to cope with your workload, talk to your tutors – they are usually really understanding and will help to support you through it.
The key to thriving in this online term is to allow yourself to have off-days. Living through a global pandemic is inevitably mentally straining, and so we shouldn’t self-criticise if we’re finding things difficult to cope with. Crucially, if you feel that you’re really struggling, or simply want someone to discuss your feelings with, be sure to reach out to someone you trust. There’s absolutely no shame in doing this – seeking help when we’re not feeling 100% mentally is an act of huge courage. Remember that the university has plenty of mental health services running:
· You can email the following address to book an online appointment with the Oxford University counselling service: email@example.com.
· This university site offers resources for coping during the pandemic: https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/welfare/counselling/coronavirus
· Your college will probably be able to point you to any specific mental health arrangements they have in place. Your college welfare officer may be the best initial point of contact, and you may also want to get in touch with peer supporters!
Remember that you can get in touch about any issues, not just those which are related to the pandemic.
A national lockdown is essential in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. The next time you feel frustrated about the restrictions, consider how the virus impacts people who are vulnerable, or in at-risk groups. That could be your family, friends, or tutors. The Coronavirus isn’t comparable to a common cold, nor is it something to be taken lightly, so it’s imperative that we follow all of the rules. Thinking about lockdown and the online term in this way, remembering their important purpose, can help to manage frustration, because by doing our part and following restrictions strictly, we’re undoubtedly saving lives.
Cover photo: Lukas Blazek on Unsplash