University Life is exciting and challenging but this academic year it’s safe to say has been more challenging than most. As a student you already have a range of things to balance, from your money to your work/life balance, but this year you’ve also had to navigate a pandemic.
It may feel more challenging to manage your wellbeing during lockdown as many of the things we have in our wellbeing toolkit feel difficult to adapt to the current circumstances. We know that everyone’s experience of this pandemic has been different and some of you will have gone through some very difficult times. The 5 ways to wellbeing are still relevant during a pandemic. We just have to be a bit more creative with how we incorporate them in our day-to-day lives during lockdown.
1. Connect with others
Even in lockdown there are lots of opportunities to reach out and connect. University is a real opportunity to interact with a wide range of people and create a support network for yourself. JMSU offer a number of clubs and societies which are operating online this year and are a great way of using a shared interest to facilitate making connections. Keeping in touch virtually with people you care about is really important. Student Advice and Wellbeing have info and support on our webpages for settling into student life and staying connected.
If you are struggling, it's important to reach out. The Student Wellbeing Advisors are here to listen and offer advice and support. All LJMU students have access to Togetherall, an online community available 24/7 for anyone who is stressed, anxious or feeling low.
2. Be active
Studies have found that being active is one of the best things we can do for both our physical and mental wellbeing. This is especially important during lockdown. Just 10 minutes of physical activity has been shown to be beneficial for mental wellbeing. If you are able to, try to commit to doing some form of exercise each day, even if it’s just having a walk outside. You could take part in one of JMSU’s events such as their Lockdown Home Workouts in between online lectures. I guarantee you will feel better after it.
LJMU provide free access to online classes to our students we also have a range of workshops on saw.ljmu.ac.uk including yoga.
The NHS has a guide on getting active if you have a disability or long-term health condition.
3. Take notice
We live in an incredibly busy world and even when we're not doing anything at all, our minds are still active. We are often so distracted that we are no longer present and we miss out on the things that are the most important to us. While waiting for a lecture, leave your phone in your pocket, be more in the ‘here and now’, tune in to the way you are feeling and your breathing as well as what is going on around you.
Why not join a 15 minute Breathing Space workshop on every Monday at 1pm to help you develop your focus, de-stress and learn new relaxation techniques.
4. Give something back
We encourage students to volunteer and not just for the benefits to their CV. Volunteering is a great way to build confidence and making a positive impact and it gives people a real sense of wellbeing and achievement. Lots of students find that it helps them to make new friends and feel part of the local community. Helping other people can provide a welcome distraction from the stresses of everyday life. JMSU has a great Volunteer Hub with lots of opportunities for virtual volunteering during the pandemic.
5. Keep on learning
You can all tick this one off as you're already at university continuing your education, which is an amazing achievement in itself. However the opportunities for learning go beyond your course as University is an ideal opportunity to learn something new. Why not learn a new language using the library’s free language software, join a club or society, or attend a virtual debate.
University is a great opportunity to learn how to cook healthy meals. If you're interested in finding out how to improve your diet and enhance your mood, nutrition expert Professor Graeme Close gives his top tips for healthy eating.
I hope that reading this has made you think about your own wellbeing toolkit. Sometimes we all need extra support or a gentle nudge to look after ourselves to ensure we keep well. Our self-help webpages are a good place to start. Be kind to yourselves and to each other, we’ve all been through a lot this last year.
If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out. There is so much help and support available at LJMU.
Where to get help
The Student Wellbeing Team are a first point of contact if you are having any issues affecting your wellbeing and/or your mental health. Student Wellbeing Officers are located in each school or faculty across the University and can refer you to a counsellor or mental health advisor if needed.
The Disability Team can provide you with financial and practical support if you have a diagnosed disability including mental health conditions.
There are a range of other services such as money advice, accommodation advice, support for international students and support for young adult carers and care-leavers.
The Student Minds society within the Students' Union can provide useful resources.
Student Advice and Wellbeing have a range of workshops to equip you with the skills to look after your own wellbeing as well as useful strategies and resources. Check our self help resources here and digital support tools here.