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As mental health awareness day has passed recently, which I am particularly passionate about, I thought it would be appropriate to touch on my mental health experience this year.
2020 has been a year which nobody anticipated, and still bears a lot of uncertainty. It has been a time that has felt isolating and fearsome for some. The impact of Covid-19 on mental health has been tremendous and mental health services have reduced as a result, while already struggling to keep up with demand.
Being in the midst of a global pandemic, my anxiety, like that of many others, had suffered. I personally need to keep busy and stay in good routine to cope well with my anxiety. Due to university closing and everything becoming remote, it became apparent that this would no longer be possible – at least not until Covid-19 was more under control.
My university course only began in January of this year, meaning that I only had less than two months of face-to-face teaching. The majority of my first year has been completely remote, with students only beginning to go back to university from the beginning of the new academic year.
“The first few weeks of our initial lockdown felt distorted, and just confusing”
As an individual who left education at 18 and returned five years later, my expectations of myself are set extremely high and my anxiety with regards to my grades steadily increased as I realised that I would not have the same method of teaching, access to resources and engagement with peers and staff that I previously did. Placements also became cancelled meaning that I would no longer be able to put my theory in practice as soon as I would have hoped.
The first few weeks of our initial lockdown felt distorted, and just confusing. I began to lack in routine, became distant from university work and secluded myself from those in my bubble. I realised that I needed to find ways to cope in a healthier way as the world was changing and would no longer be what it once was.
It has been an uphill battle to come to some sort of normality among the disorder in the world, but there have been improvements in my mental health.
Additionally, now that placements are beginning again at the end of October, and the bulk of theory work has finished for year one, I feel much calmer and ready to focus on the practical element of my course.
These are some ways in which I have managed my anxiety.
Taking breaks: As I was busy and stressed completing all of my university work for the year, assignments and exams, I always ensured I was taking breaks. Albeit at times they would be small, it was still an effective way to not only stay engaged in my work but not feel burnt out either.
Asking for help: There have been times where I have really needed someone’s advice, or support with work or with my personal life. I am someone who likes to be as independent as possible but as time has gone on, I have understood the value of depending on others sometimes too. Talking to others and sharing my worries took a weight off my shoulders and reminded me that things will get better.
Self-care days: Where I can, especially when needed, I take a day off from my tasks and do things that bring me peace. Whether it is spending the day relaxing, ordering in my favourite food or watching movies, taking time off from my day-to-day worries puts me in a better mindset to face them again the day after.
Mental health problems are individual, and no two people are the same. My experiences are personal and inevitably the way I cope may also be different to how others do and what works well for them. I believe that speaking about mental health and making others feel that it is okay to talk about it if they choose to, is crucial.