Life @ U of T

Introduction

Staying Mentally Healthy While Social Distancing

Staying Mentally Healthy While Social Distancing

Health and Wellness has been offering a bunch of online workshops in order to aid students in keeping up their mental health. Last Tuesday I virtually attended the workshop titled Staying Mentally Healthy While Practicing Social Distancing.

The meeting was held on MS Teams, but it was basically like watching a presentation. Attendees were given instructions on how to join anonymously, and we were not meant to turn on our cameras or microphones. For those who felt comfortable, we were asked to add questions or discussion remarks in the chat panel. 

Below is some advice from the workshop (there was a lot of info so I’m focusing on what stood out to me!):

First, identify what difficulties you are having during this time period. For me that’s been: 

  1. Too much screen time.
  2. Getting angry at myself for not accomplishing enough work.
  3. Workspace difficulties (now that I’m at home I don’t have a designated work area).
  4. Feeling sad about missing friends. 

Once the problem is identified it’s time to brainstorm solutions. We were led through some ways to find solutions, but were reminded that not everything would work for our individual lifestyles and that it was up to us to shape them to fit our own needs. We were also reminded that some solutions we normally use might not be available to us at this time. 

Here are three of the categories we looked at when coming up with solutions with tangible actions:

Managing Thoughts

  1. Journaling.
  2. Breathing exercises (check out Hart House and OISE mediation schedules) or my blog post on starting meditation by yourself.
  3. Rethinking the situation. This is an exercise about reframing your thoughts. Instead of thinking “I’m going to fail this course” you say “I’m having the thought that I’m going to fail this course.” Another example we were given is, instead of saying “I’m stuck in lockdown” you say “I’m doing my part to slow the virus.” 

    Journal.
    My Journal.

Structure

  1. Find a routine. Remember to eat healthy and maintain a good sleep schedule. 
  2. Exercise daily (I have definitely been slacking on this).
  3. Remember to break up tasks into more manageable ones.
  4. Have other people hold you accountable. When I am struggling to finish an assignment I ask my mom to sit across the table from me to make sure I keep on task.
  5. Give yourself realistic expectations. Grapefruit and tea.

Connect

  1. Stay in contact with friends and family.
  2. Attend online workshops or exercises classes (check out Student Life full schedule). 

    Notebook.
    My notes from the workshop.

While this workshop helped me find tangible goals for dealing with the stress I’ve been feeling, it also helped as motivation tool. The simple act of partaking in a workshop–interacting with others and knowing that I’m not alone– served as encouragement for me to get out of my slump. 

Two reminders from the workshop: Remember that you aren’t just working from home, you’re working during a pandemic (so don’t expect yourself to accomplish so much). Don’t judge yourself for feeling stressed or frustrated. 

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