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Four Useful Tips to Help with Mental Health during Lockdown

2 February 2021

With recent reports finding young people's mental health in decline, UK Study Centre has put together some tips that we hope will help you alleviate stress during these uncertain times.

Alarming research from the Prince’s Trust on mental health has given rise to calls for the government to set up a post-pandemic wellbeing fund for schools in England. According to the study, more than 1 in 4 young people in the UK have been feeling unable to cope with life since the start of the pandemic. Self-esteem issues in girls aged 11 to 14 have increased sharply — from 1 in 7, to 1 in 3. Half of 16-25 years olds admitted that their mental health had worsened since the start of the pandemic. The study concluded that heavy use of social media and lack of physical exercise negatively influences wellbeing, and warned that the pandemic is exacerbating these issues.

With a government u-turn on end-of-year exams announced in the first days of 2021, students and school children are now not only stuck at home, but facing a more uncertain and anxious situation than ever before. Many have confessed that this sudden change has left them feeling stressed, slighted, and increasingly unable to cope.

In our continued efforts to support the wellbeing of our students, we have listed below four helpful tips which should help alleviate stress during this time.


1. Why not journal?

According to Francesca Geens, creator of the HappySelf Journal, journaling doesn’t only help in creating and maintaining a routine, but it also gives children and teens a chance to offload. It’s a means of expression, and time away from screens.

It’s also a fantastic way to reflect on each day, week, and clearly see what’s been achieved, and what to feel grateful for.

 

2. Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude is an incredibly powerful tool on the road to better mental health. You can do this by writing three things you were grateful for at the end of each day and reading previous entries. This will help to break any negative recurring thoughts, and realise the good in each day.

Another fun way to practice gratitude was discovered by Alana Pignatiello, a college lecturer in Scotland, who came up with ‘Mindful Mondays’.  Place a gratitude jar in your home, in which any member of your family, or household, can write in gratitude notes whenever they feel like it during the week. These can then be read out together on Mondays, to help start a new week on a positive note.

As Alana says, “Students need something or someone to remind them that everything is not all bad, to be grateful and to be kind to themselves. It is our job as lecturers to teach our students – we know this – but it is also our job to show that we care and will support them through this.”

 

3. Stay active!

In 2019, we published a blog about how exercise can help alleviate exam stress. We spoke about England Athletics’ #RunAndRevise scheme, which aimed to encourage students across the UK to take time away from revision and support their mental wellbeing through exercise and running.

Although this scheme was cancelled last year due to Covid-19, and it is uncertain if the campaign will be able to continue this year, it is still a well-proven scientific fact that staying active improves your mental health. According to the NHS website, regular exercise can boost your mood.

«Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it,» says Dr Alan Cohen, a GP with a special interest in mental health.

The NHS has a range of “Gym-free workouts” that you can do at home, as well as tips on how to get active if you have a disability.

The mental health charity, Mind, also provides useful links to online exercise programmes, such as yoga, to help you get through lockdown.

But one of the easiest and most enriching ways of staying active is to take a short walk outside each day, as permitted by UK lockdown guidelines.

 

4. Gift yourself some much needed relief from social media

It is commonly known that too much screen time browsing through social media can heavily affect your mood. So, while staying in touch with friends is very important, it is also a good idea to disconnect for a pocket of time, or two, during the day.

In 2018, we reported how all boys in Y9 at Eton College had to hand in all electronic devices to staff at 9.30pm and pick them up the next morning at 7.45am. This initiative was surprisingly welcomed by pupils, who felt a great relief being released from virtual social obligations.

So, why not give yourself the gift of a virtual break every day? You might just find it to be the much-needed relief you’ve been looking for.

For more information on school children's mental health and how schools across the UK are helping to tackle the issue please click here.

UK Study Centre fully supports and encourages our students to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle whilst learning. We have lots of tutors that can assist you with different learning techniques and support you through this uncertain time. Take a look at some of our tutors here.

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