It feels like a lifetime has passed since last month’s blog. And in that month, I’m sure many have had to undertake that dreaded two week isolation period… including me. Before the half term and even now, many schools and colleges have been sending pupils or even whole year groups home… including mine.
Well, lucky for you, I’ve got some first hand tips on how to mentally cope with (unfortunately, but inevitably) working from home.
It may not be surprising to hear, but staying inside your four bedroom walls, or even being restricted to your house, is not the best for your mental health. Even if you do enjoy willingly staying at home or in your bedroom, isolating for this long is not the same. Of course, lots of people might see this time off to be very hopeful at the beginning. After all, shouldn’t staying at home surely encourage you to work better? There’s no way you couldn’t be organised and productive if you have no other plans whatsoever. In fact, you’ll probably fly ahead with school work and get so much free time. Yep, two weeks of free time, no school, no schedule… maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all.
Alas, even if your attitude wasn’t like this at the start, you might feel as if you’ve melted into your bedroom carpet by day three. A heap of unfinished work, random sheets, a hundred different tabs and a laptop pinging even more school tasks to do. Oh, and let’s not forget an attention span decreasing at a very steady rate (focusing for a whole hour in school seems like another universe). If the schoolwork and coursework isn’t enough to make you want to either curl up into a ball or chuck your laptop out the window- whichever stage you get up to on the ‘I’ve had enough of this’ scale- then any free time gets filled in with other things on your to- do list. Ok, maybe that dream isolation period with a fortnight of lie- ins, sweatpants and Netflix wasn’t so realistic afterall.
And trust me, you wouldn’t be alone. Learning away from school, or even just learning this year has been extremely different. I know you’ve probably heard it a million times before, but looking after your mental health first really matters. It’s your foundation to a positive attitude, positive learning and positive results. Of course, not everybody finds the same things challenging. These panicked waves, tsunamis (or even a light drizzle of rain on a summer's day) come at different times for different people. Make sure that you don’t compare yourself to others, but rather focus on yourself and what makes you happier and more relaxed. After all, there’s nobody who knows you better than yourself.
It’s ok to find things difficult and hard, it’s ok to panic and stress out about deadlines or results. In fact, it’s natural. But it’s how you handle these overwhelming feelings will help you keep yourself in check and do the best you can. Maybe social media increases a spiral of distraction, so try taking a few days off. Or, take the time to slow down and realise your situation can be improved. By accepting that you may be going through a rough patch and thinking things through is a great start. If you feel the need, sit down in a quiet space and focus on calming your breath. Like some meditative magic, this should calm your whole body. Take yourself away from the situation for a while to put things into perspective. Then, break down what is really worrying you and making you anxious or unhappy. Eventually you should come to the conclusion that the tasks you have to do aren't the end of the world.
A more positive and calmed mindset, should bring a slightly more detached but focused perspective. Hopefully, after taking some time away, getting some fresh air or talking it out with somebody you’ll feel much more relaxed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, support or just an unrelated chat with someone who cheers you up. Everyone feels this way from time to time, and lockdown certainly doesn’t help. It may take a few ups and downs, but keep calm and look after yourself!
Whether you’re hearing these tips again for the hundredth time, or have learnt something new, they’re definitely worth considering when you’re feeling a bit down or anxious. If you do need somebody to talk to, you could call these helplines:
Samaritans: 116 123
Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774
Mind: 0300 123 3393
Calm: 0800 58 58 58
ANISHA MINOCHA is a sixth form student from Manchester, hoping to study English Literature and Spanish at university. She is a passionate writer and poet whose work has been published in anthologies, magazines, blogs and won competitions. Contributing to Sink Magazine, she is keen to utilize the voice of young people and share work through her creative writing blog. As a climate activist, she has combined her love for words and the planet in a performance of spoken word at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 'Letters to the Earth'. She also co-runs Young Friends of the Earth: Manchester and has organised workshops, participated in panels and spoken at Manchester Cathedral.
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