Everyone who’s been to university knows the feeling when you’ve just waved your parents off, had a well-deserved cry on your new bed and think “…now what?”. This feeling is especially prominent in 2020, as not only are you having to meet a whole flat of new people you’re going to live with, but you might be locked-down in quarantine with them too.
We saw over the last few months the effects lockdown can have on our mental health, and it was bad enough when we were locked down with our own families. Many Freshers this year have had to do the same again, but with a whole host of new people.
This is why it’s so important to take extra care of your mental health as a Fresher this year, and we’ve got some tips to share on how you can do that.
1. Take Extra Time To Decorate Your Room
Your bedroom at Uni is definitely your sanctuary, especially when no one’s washed up their plates in the kitchen for far too long. It’s important to take extra time to decorate it exactly how you want it to keep it a peaceful place to retreat to whenever you need it.
Put up plenty of pictures of your friends, family and of course your cat or dog, to make your room feel a little bit more homely. Any funny pictures are also a great conversation starter for your new flatmates.
2. Make the effort to get to know your flatmates
When you’re starting to feel a bit low, it can be easy to retreat to your bedroom, only going into the kitchen when no one else is there to sneak your dinner out. Whilst this may be the easy option, it might be better for your mental health to get to know your flatmates, they’re probably feeling the exact same way.
Once you get to know them even just a little bit, you’ll instantly feel more at ease. They’re also probably feeling everything you are, and chatting about it can help you all.
3. Keep In Contact With Family And Friends
Everyone misses a cuddle from their mum or best mate from home. Don’t feel ashamed if whilst everyone else is having a flat party (within their social bubble of course), all you’re thinking about is when you can go home and see your dog.
Keep calling your mum, dad, sister, best mate, whoever it might be who you know after a quick chat will instantly boost your mood. Talk through how you’ve been feeling with them, so that they know they need to be there for you, and so you feel less alone.
Your friends might also be going through the exact same thing as you, maybe their flat is in lockdown too. Have regular catch ups with how they’re finding it to know that you’re not the only one trapped in a flat with quickly dwindling food and a lucky dip of flatmates.
4. Get Moving
As hard as we all know it is to get the motivation to do any form of exercise when we’re feeling low or anxious, it could be the best thing to do in that moment.
Releasing endorphins and sweating out your stress can be a huge help for our mental health. Giving you time to clear your head and focus on yourself for even just 20-30 minutes could be just what your body is craving.
If you’re wondering how on earth, you’re going to do this from the confines of your student flat, we’ve got a few ideas for how you can get a good home workout in, with little to no equipment here. You might even be able to convince a few of your flatmates to join in.
5. Give Yourself Time
Someone at some point has probably told you that they met the best mates of their life in their Uni halls, and how it was love at first beer pong. This can be a little misleading for a lot of new students.
Not to mention no Fresher before has had the stress of a pandemic to tackle as well as awkwardly trying to make friends by making everyone cups of tea and leaving your door open hoping someone comes in for a chat.
Your chances of making friends with your flatmates could actually be more in your favour, as you all already have the fact that you’re all quarantined (and angry about it) in common. But if this doesn’t happen right away, don’t feel disheartened as its normal for things like this to take time.
It’s important to balance socialising with your new flat, with allowing yourself alone time and not feeling guilty about it.
6. Talk To Your University Team
If you feel you’re really struggling with your mental health you should always talk to someone. Often times talking to a professional outside of your own social bubble can help you open up a lot easier.
Your University course should have a pastoral carer so get in touch with them and set up a meeting for a chat about how you’ve been feeling and how they can help you.
There are also so many great helplines you can call or text for someone to talk through what you’ve been feeling.
Here are some helpful resources to direct you to helplines you can get in touch with.
Take Home Message:
Lockdown can be a huge strain on our mental health, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of if you need a little more help as a student facing lockdown. There are definitely some positives of such a strange situation, like bonding more with your flatmates. It’s so important to keep communication going with those you love, to boost your spirits as much as you can. After all, you’re facing a scenario that’s never been faced before, so try to enjoy the novelty of this Freshers experience, that no other fresher has seen before.