Hannah, a student from Edinburgh, is amongst millions of people around the world trying to make sense of the ‘new normal’, adapting their daily routine to the enforced stay-at-home life in the Covid-19 outbreak. She has found ways to make the most of it and stay positive – here are some useful tips from her.
For all of us, but especially young people who are used to a very active lifestyle, it is an incredibly challenging time. There are travel and assembly restrictions in most countries to prevent the spread of the virus, and this of course also applies to EU youth programmes. Numerous initiatives, like the European Youth Event or DiscoverEU, have had to be cancelled or postponed. Many young people must now study remotely, some might have lost their casual work, and some had to move back in with their parents as they wouldn’t be able to support themselves through the self-isolation time otherwise. They are not able to see their friends either – yet another test!
Hannah felt a bit down at the beginning but she soon figured out that there is still a lot of ways to engage with others, study, exercise, chat to her friends, save some money, and plan and prepare for her future travels whilst stuck at home.
Now, over to Hannah:
“The first days of isolation were very difficult. Suddenly, from being at university surrounded by hundreds of fellow students and friends, I was stuck at home with my parents. I even began starting to miss things that had become a pain, like the daily commute in my car, stuck in rush hour traffic. Not being able to drive felt like another blow to my hard-won independence, having only gained my licence in October.
Set a schedule and stick to it
Being stuck inside, I found it difficult to concentrate. All the days rolled into one, like a long lazy Sunday. Despite my lethargy, I had course work and projects piling up, which started to stress me out. I knew that I had to get myself out of the slump and start to refocus again. My starting point was setting a schedule … then, importantly, sticking to it.
I designed myself a weekly routine, which I pinned to the wall above my desk.
Knowing what I will be doing in advance of each day has eliminated a lot of my stress and helped me regain focus. Now, I’ve found a routine is the key to helping you through the tough times of isolation ahead.
I think this is true for anyone, whether young people, parents or grandparents.
For example, my day starts off with exercise - another key, not only for physical but mental health too. Now, every morning, I get up at 8:30am to do my workout routine on my mat in my bedroom. There are thousands of online workouts to choose from, not needing any equipment. A yoga mat is handy, but you could use a rug or a sheet instead. You can even improvise weights, such as filling your rucksack with household items.
Embed studies and outdoors time into your daily routine
Another important thing about routines is to set regular bedtimes as well as your morning alarm.
After my exercise and breakfast, the main chunk of my routine is spent on my coursework. One way I can still stay connected is to video call my coursemates, to study and solve problems together.
In some of my ‘free time’ in the evenings, I like to check in with my other friends and family, especially my gran, who lives on her own.
It’s also important to take regular breaks and to go outside for fresh air, especially if there’s some sunshine that day! For my daily allowance of outside exercise, I like to go for a walk with my mum … if she isn’t exercising already, rolling around the communal garden with a breezeblock she’s ‘borrowed’ from a neighbour’s extension work. Along with exercise, eating healthily is also important. I’m trying hard not to eat too much cake, for example, as I want to be able to fit back in my car when I can drive it again.
Limit your screen time and find an offline hobby
Having spent all day looking at a screen, I think it is important to rest my eyes and not use the internet too much for entertainment. Likewise, I’m trying hard not to buy things online that aren’t essential. Not only will this help me save money but also it also eases the burden on delivery drivers who must be very overworked right now.
One way of limiting using electronic devices is resuming a hobby or taking up a new one. You could learn to play a musical instrument, especially if there’s one lying around the house, or start learning a new language.
I’m self-studying German to prepare myself for my internship in Switzerland, which I’m hoping will still go ahead later this year.
Finally, to finish, the lockdown has also given me more time to spend with my new best friend, my plant called Robert! My parents suggested that name; in reference to Robert Plant … your parents might find that ‘funny’ as well.”
Youth story by Hannah submitted via Eurodesk Partner, Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC)
Check out the resources on the Plan and prepare to go abroad page to help you get ready for your future trips!