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We can safely say that it hasn’t exactly been the best start to the new year, but at least we’re used to lockdowns by now. Over the last few months, COVID has really started to take a toll on our mental health and due to it almost being a year since we were leading our ‘normal lives’, our frustration and anxiety from not knowing when this lockdown is going to end are particularly heightened at the moment. In addition, from a uni student’s point of view, the pressure to reach coursework and exam deadlines has been too much to bear at times and although Nottingham has given many students extensions, I would argue that the process to apply wasn’t as accommodating as it should have been in terms of their understanding of how our mental health impacts our work. 

 

However, we must hold onto the fact that the end is in sight and hopefully by September, every adult in the country will be vaccinated. The hope of a return to normality by the end of this year must keep us going. In addition, I’m going to advise several ways in which you can stay as happy as possible, as I think all of us are or have been stuck in a bit of a rut at some point during these trying months.

 

1. Be Sociable

One of the most vital ways to stay happy is to be as sociable as possible, by keeping in contact with friends and loved ones. During the first lockdown, there was this sense of community and togetherness as the entire country shifted to online communication, speaking to people through zoom calls and playing online games together. During this lockdown, everyone seems to be putting less effort into being social and that’s to be expected. Yet, it seems to be having a negative effect on our wellbeing due to the ‘pandemic life’ being a naturally isolating time.

I stayed at home from the end of October right up until the Christmas break, but it was undoubtedly the best decision to move back in with my housemates. Being at home was lovely for a time but by the end, it was starting to drive me crazy and what I missed the most was socialising with people my age, whilst also craving my independence and freedom. This time around, I brought my Wii console from home and now we have game nights playing Mario Kart and Wii Sports, as well as movie nights on a regular basis which has really helped me to stay sane.  

For students who are still living at home, if you aren’t doing this already, I would really force yourself to be sociable, whether it be video calling family members, playing an online game with your friends or suggesting movies to watch together whilst being apart and chatting about it afterwards. Trust me, it will really help!

 

2. Plan Your Day

The more lockdowns we have and the tighter the restrictions get, the harder it is to organise your time and arrange to do things. For students, the shift to online learning has meant that there is a lot more independent study and self-motivation needed to keep on top of work. One way I have managed to stay organised lately is to write a daily checklist of items that I would like to complete by the end of the day, including both study-related tasks and everyday living duties. I’ve found that it really helps me to stay happy because I feel like I have accomplished something after I tick off each item; in a pandemic, it’s the little things that make a difference. For those of you who have stayed organised throughout every single lockdown, firstly I would like to congratulate you because that is highly impressive (please tell me your secrets!) and secondly, perhaps try and challenge yourself to learning a new skill, obviously one that you didn’t attempt in the previous lockdowns and give yourself a time frame by which you have to achieve it. The sense of satisfaction and happiness that you will get will be off the scales!

 

3. Get Some Fresh Air

Alternatively, if you’re a sucker for the simple things in life and are too lazy to learn a new skill, which both apply to me, then going on a walk somewhere for around an hour every day will really help keep you happy. An hour may sound like a long time but to get the full benefits of getting some fresh air and clearing your mind, you’ll need to stay out for a decent length of time. If you’re more of a fitness fanatic then, by all means, go on a run or bike ride instead. Whichever you chose, you’ll be keeping your body fit and healthy as well as keeping your mind healthy too. 

 

4. Listen to music

Of course, as most of you will agree, music makes everything better, so why not stick your headphones on and play some of your fave songs whilst you’re getting some fresh air. I’m always listening to music, whether it be whilst studying, reading, in the shower - you name any activity and I’ll be there vibing! I’ve got a Spotify playlist for every mood and occasion: a chilled playlist, my house mix (accompanied by alcohol of course) and even my secret Disney playlist when I just want to channel my inner child - well it’s not exactly secret anymore...

Music has been my saving grace when my housemates have gone out and I’ve been alone in my room. You can’t help but bop along and it stops any negative thoughts that you might have from dampening your mood.

Those are just some of the methods I have used in order to stay as happy as possible during this lockdown. Of course, everybody has different interests and passions, so as long as you keep yourself busy with things that you know you will enjoy, you can’t go wrong. That being said, don’t be afraid to be inventive as I’m sure by now you’re probably feeling like you have tried everything you can think of at this point. Just keep going because we’ve come so far since last March and always keep in mind that if we follow the social distancing rules, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll be back to living our normal lives and can put all of this behind us. Keep smiling everyone! :) 

 

Amy McClelland

Nottingham '22

I’m a second year English student at the University of Nottingham. In my spare time, I enjoy watching films and TV shows as much as I do reading books. Staying fit and healthy is very important to me but my love of chocolate is greater ;-) I love travelling and I would love to visit Italy because I’ve never been! I am a feature writer for HerCampus Nottingham magazine.
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