Ned's Declassified Coronavirus Survival Guide

One week into social distancing, and it’s quickly becoming obvious that while coronavirus may be a low threat to the physical health of most young people, our mental health is going to take a hit. The anxiety that is brought about by this kind of drastic change to daily life, as well as being so suddenly cut off from our typical coping methods, is going to have an impact on everyone’s mental health, whether they have pre-existing conditions or not. But while the boomers complain about how globalisation has enabled the fast spread of this virus, those of us who are not digitally inept can take advantage of modern technology to be more connected than ever. The future is pretty daunting right now, but the internet will get us through. 


Being unable to hang out with friends IRL is pretty tough, but there are plenty of ways to see each other online: Skype, game servers, apps like House Party which allow people to hang out and play games as a group. These are all great ways to spend time with friends and boost your spirits. Self-isolation definitely does not have to mean being alone, we just have to adapt. The great thing about self-isolating is that all of your friends will be available, no need to cram in a ten minute meet up over coffee, we literally have nothing better to do than hang out and chat to our mates. 


If you’re in a student house with just a few of you left because you can’t go home, organise house activities so that you have a routine. My housemates that are still in Bristol have been sending us daily snapchats of house yoga sessions. Even if you’re not together, do group activities via Skype or all watch a movie together on Facetime. With a bit of imagination you can find plenty of activities that you can do as a group while each of you is in your respective bedroom. 


While there are plenty of ways to keep up contact, this is also a great opportunity to take a break and focus on yourself. I know a lot of my peers feel like time is constantly getting away from them and they just can’t keep on top, now we get a chance to breathe. Stop obsessing over coronavirus news reports and throw yourself into that project you’ve been putting off for years. Yes keep your uni work going (please don’t remind me I have a diss due), but we all have that creative project we tell ourselves we’ll do one day. Being an English student, I have notebooks full of incomplete ideas for stories that I never find the time to write. I’m determined by the time online teaching starts again in April that I will actually have written something, even if it’s awful. I started uni claiming that I was going to be a writer and now divine intervention is telling me to get my act together. Whatever you choose to do, creating is good for the soul. Bake bread, take up abstract painting (throwing paint at a canvas sounds particularly cathartic) or learn a new skill. Download Duolingo and be bullied by that damn owl every day, then when quarantine lifts you’ll be ready to travel the world without looking painfully British (we suck at going abroad, its actually embarrassing). Having something to work towards where you can track and recognise achievement is going to be a great way to alleviate boredom, plus having a rewards system for making progress will be good for your mental health.

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And on a more serious note, remember that there is plenty of support for mental health out there that does not require leaving the house, so if you are struggling you can still reach out to professional services. Bristol uni often suggests Big White Wall, and for eating disorders you can chat with someone online through Beat. All you have to do is google online mental health services and loads of options will come up. As a community of students, certainly in Bristol but also around the world, we have all felt the effects of mental health difficulties, be it first hand or through loved ones. I think it’s really important for all of us to establish new routines which provide a sense of normalcy, especially given the upheaval we’re experiencing. The government hasn’t really addressed how this is going to affect mental health, but our generation are addressing mental health more directly than it ever has been and fighting it every day by genuinely caring about one another. Middle-aged Karens may only care about themselves but growing up with the internet has fostered an outlook among young people that we are all in this together (quote Zac Efron). 


With that in mind, take care of your own mental health, but also take care of the people around you. Make time for friends because that contact will benefit them and you. And when coronavirus drama gets you down, just remember there are plenty of good things out there to make you smile, starting with the fact that in twelve weeks most of the people who voted for Boris Johnson will be six feet under. On that note, here is a list of things we can all do to keep cheerful while we’re stuck at home:

  • Play your favourite music really loudly, the boomers are too afraid of coronavirus to come round and complain
  • Now the music’s going, dance around your room like a crazy person. It will burn off stress energy and give your neighbour a good laugh, so there’s your good deed done for the day
  • There’s no rule against sticking your head out the window, so enjoy the sunshine now it’s here and maybe scream at the sky to vent your stress if the mood takes you
  • A bunch of companies are putting entertainment products on sale, like audiobooks and games. Sims 4 is 75% off so it’s time to live vicariously through fictional characters, which personally I have been training for my whole life. Seriously, nerds are going to thrive in quarantine 
  • Speaking of, work through that massive to-be-read pile in your room
  • If you can get baking ingredients delivered, learn how to bake all your favourite snacks at home on the basis that you need snacks to revise (I’m planning to try out the Mary Berry Jaffa Cake recipe) then eat all the snacks and postpone revision until tomorrow
  • And finally, we’re reclaiming yoga from the boomers cause you can do it in your bedroom and it actually does help you feel better, even if you don’t believe in magic crystals…