Sometimes for me it feels like life has always been this way, other days It feels like March 2020 was yesterday. I am writing this blog to reflect on the fact that today marks a year since the restrictions and lockdowns – It seems so crazy that this strange time has been going on for a whole year. I’ll be discussing some of the ups and downs, and giving you some advice to push through this time.
March last year was my first year of university. I was looking forward to the sun making an appearance on campus and experiencing summer in Reading with my friends. I used to go to Union, Park Bar and Q Club and participate in a few societies – I was always busy, but as you know life changed in March 2020.
Like many other students when the pandemic hit I returned home where the busyness of life suddenly stopped – unless it was to run upstairs for a Zoom call. I was introduced to online lectures, take-home exams and had a summer of working in a restaurant during the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Although this experience was a massive change, I don’t think that I realised how much I would miss my old life.
Back then, it all seemed new, and I don’t think that it affected me too negatively. The main issue I found was the separation from my friends. Video calls were great to catch up but it wasn’t quite the same, I missed the constant social interaction that I had experienced in Halls. I still feel like this, it’s difficult to be separated from your friends.
If you are experiencing these feelings make sure you schedule in a video call (as previously mentioned), or message friends/family to see if they are alright. You could also plan things with your family or play virtual games with friends. Although these ideas don’t fill the gap that has been created, looking to the future and discussing what kind of stuff you’d like to do together might help you become more positive.
Alongside the separation from friends I have found that I am a lot more tired than I used to be, I expect most people feel this way too. In the summer everything was new and I had to get used to that, however, now I am starting to feel the effects of screens and days feeling the same. For me, screen fatigue has manifested itself by making me less motivated to do work and getting headaches. It has been a really difficult adjustment for many people, and getting the balance right can be tricky.
If you have been feeling the effects of screen fatigue make sure you take some time to go outside – have a walk to relax or take a run for some exercise. As long as you follow current restrictions you can spend however long you need away from the screen to give yourself a break. I would recommend not using your phone whilst outside (unless you want to take pictures for Instagram), Instead set an alarm for when you want to head back so you can fully immerse yourself outside and take a proper break. A walk can really help your mood and motivation to get things done.
It has been a challenging year, but it feels like there is some optimism at the moment, hopefully, this will help us to get through this strange time.
I hope that you find these reflections and tips useful! If you want to submit your story and experiences of the last year you can by emailing Student Communications: email@example.com, with the subject ‘One year on…’.Or adding your reflections/story to the Padlet board.
Finally, if you have been affected by the past year then you can always talk to teams at the University or share your feelings with a friend. It’s a difficult time and its important to know there is support to help you get through it!