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Taking care of your mental wellbeing in the time of a global pandemic

The outbreak of COVID-19 is a very unfortunate event that has disrupted our lives. I remember sitting on my couch deciding what to make for lunch when I received a circular saying that the government of my country was stopping all flights from the UK the next day. 12 hours later I was on a bus to London Heathrow Airport and 36 hours later I was home.

There was so much panic and uncertainty. I wasn’t the only one who had to make such a difficult decision. My coursemates from all across the globe, be it Italy, Germany, Spain or China, all did the same. The weekend before this we were all talking about how excited we were for the class trip and within 72 hours we were in different parts of the world, locked in our rooms. Some of my classmates chose to stay back in Manchester.

We were all feeling so many emotions and were overwhelmed but one thing that was common was - we were scared. We had no idea what to do, we had so many questions: What happens next? How long will this last? What happens to our studies? Will we go back? Have we been infected? When will everything go back to the way it was?

My brain definitely short-circuited. We started receiving information from the University, our deadlines were pushed back, lecturers provided additional support, the teaching was made online and a no disadvantage policy was put into place. While all this eased our anxiety a bit, what was happening in the world was still too much for us to take in and adapt to.

Social distancing was the need of the hour and while it is the only way out of this pandemic, it started taking a toll on our mental well being, one of my friends even cut her hair on Day 7 of the quarantine!

I am no expert on how to deal with mental well being during a pandemic but the following are some things that worked for me and I am hoping they are useful for you too!

  1. Take your time. No one expects you to be productive during such difficult times. Do not pressurise yourself.
  2. Keep in touch with your loved ones. Put social media to good use. Reach out to your friends.
  3. Do things together on a video call! Watch a movie together, play charades or Pictionary. We may be far away from each other but can still bond by doing things together.
  4. Read that book you have really wanted to read but haven’t had the chance to.
  5. Experiment with food.
  6. Binge-watch your favourite series.
  7. Watch some light stand up comedy.
  8. Work out for a few minutes every day. You will be surprised at how many exercises you can do in your room!
  9. Spend time with your family and pamper your pets.
  10. Do your bit, stay indoors. Keep washing your hands and avoid any unnecessary human contact.
  11. Reach out to the University in case you need any help, they will definitely do all they can to help you.

Absurd times call for extra amounts of love and care. We can’t control what is happening globally but we can contribute in our own small way. Hang in there, this too shall pass and we will come out of it stronger. More power and strength to everyone out there.

A screen shot of a video call between student friends

Payal Mehta hugging a black dog