I’ll be honest, the combination of Lockdown 2.0 and exam revision has been taking it out of me recently. Whilst I am very aware that I am extremely privileged to have a safe home to isolate in and the financial stability (albeit minimal) of university student loans, I can’t help but feel a bit worn out by the last month.
As someone who has a diagnosis of depression already, I rely heavily on my exercise and social time to keep me happy and sane. Losing the gym and dinners with the girls is already a pretty big concern for my mental health. Covid-19 has also meant that my 2nd year exams have been postponed to January, meaning I am now going to be revising over Christmas. The last few weeks I have felt demotivated, unconfident, disappointed and generally very tired. But I have slowly worked out some techniques that are helping me to keep going, even if every day isn’t a good one.
1. Don’t Work or Revise All Day
Whilst I am pretty nervous about my exams, I learnt the hard way last year that you can’t focus all day everyday, and even if you can, you shouldn’t! Experts say that 6 hours a day is the maximum you can do consistently for effective study. Additionally, with this awful dark weather, getting outside is increasingly difficult. For this reason, I have started doing three hours in the morning, having a good break and doing another 3 hours in the afternoon.
In the 3 hour stints, my phone is away and the work is solid and good quality. Then I go for a walk with a friend, maybe get a takeaway coffee, or go for a run. Some days I am able to carry on for another hour or two over the allotted time, some days I don’t manage all 6 hours, but having proper breaks is VITAL. This way I feel I am getting enjoyment from my life and studying doesn’t feel as painful.
2. Reach Out to your Loved Ones
As with the last lockdown, reaching out to people who don’t live with you is key. When you’re having bad day or week, you need outside people to reassure you and distract you. Calling a friend or family member means you get the distraction and don’t feel so distant from your social circle. The other day I literally text a friend asking ‘am I a failure?’. I knew the answer really, but I wanted to hear it from her!
3. Remember, There is More to Your Life than Your Work
Whilst this period of time may require you to focus more on your exams or whatever deadline you have coming up, there is always time for you to do something else. In the last week, I have spent evenings learning the piano (badly), drawing, cooking biscuits and often just watching rubbish Christmas films. It makes me feel like I haven’t lost myself and also reduces the stress significantly. This makes me far more productive when its time to get that study done.
4. Do a Bit of What Makes You Happy Each Day
For me this has been starting Christmas early. My tree is up, I’ve been lighting my Next Festive Spice candles and listen to Michael Buble. When you’re feeling a bit low, please just treat yourself. If it’s a facemask, a takeaway or, if you’re me yesterday, an entire tube of Jaffa Cakes, then so be it!
5. MOST IMPORTANTLY – Don’t Forget the Basics
You need to ensure that you are eating properly and sleeping. Please remember that if this is all you manage one day, then this in itself is an achievement. If days are getting harder and getting out of bed is increasingly daunting, please please please reach out to a professional. At the very least reach out to a friend – even if its me via Instagram messenger or email. You deserve to be safe and happy, no degree, job or project is worth damaging your mental health. You are worth way more than that.
So there they are – I hope they are a little bit helpful. These things work for me, but each person is different. The one thing that is universal though is that we all need to do nice things for ourselfves and we all need rest. I hope you are all getting through the lockdown period and just so you know – I am proud of you, so you should be too.
The Female Medic