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Wellbeing

SCIENCE OF ANXIETY DURING SELF-ISOLATION

How to fight stress and win

Uncertainties about the future and regrets about the past are a 24-hour factory for stress and anxiety: "Do I have somewhere to live?" "Can I get home to see my parents?" "Am I going to run out of money?" All too often, we simply end up worrying for the sake of worrying, long after the practical benefits of worrying have vanished. If you feel that your stress or anxiety is getting beyond your control, please reach out to a member of your residence team for support.
What can we do to recover from stress when it becomes unproductive? Here are three strategies that may help to relieve stress, according to the latest scientific evidence:

Express and reappraise
Stress is a common reaction when the stakes are high, and two strategies may be particularly useful when we’re anxious. First, describing emotions in detail can make them feel less overwhelming, so writing a short paragraph about your emotions when facing something new and scary can be calming. Second, reappraising anxiety as a good rather than bad thing can also help to make it manageable. For example, anxiety can enhance performance by helping you to focus better on a specific problem and avoid distraction.

Try meditation
Meditation techniques can help to reduce stress. Focusing on the rise and fall of your breath can train your attention to rest on the present moment instead of panicking about past mistakes or future uncertainties. It’s important to enjoy experiences while you actually live them, because distracted thoughts frequently spiral into uncontrollable obsessions with “what if?”. By taking control of your attention, you can choose what is and isn’t worth your mental energy.

Connect with nature
Spending time in nature is  great for mental health and cognitive performance. Data from ~20,000 UK people was analysed and found a relationship between how many hours people spent in nature each week and their overall levels of happiness and wellbeing. A minimum dose of 2 hours a week of nature was associated with stronger reports of health and life satisfaction. This becomes more difficult to achieve when living in a city or when in self-isolation at home, but there are still practical things we can do to get the benefits of nature. There are many free playlists that provide sounds of nature which can be an excellent calming background when studying. You can also bring nature inside by ordering indoor plants for your workspace.

UNINEST STUDENT RESIDENCES RECOMMENDS

Self-isolation List of Activities

Engaging in a new activity could relieve stress, build self-confidence, increase your knowledge and help create a good work-life balance.

Scrabble-like online games

Available on many platforms (apple, android and windows) students can download and sign up to play scrabble-like online games. Some apps...

Adult coloring books

You can purchase an adult coloring book or just print a few pages off the internet. Use pens or coloring pencils to create your own art pieces.

Origami

This form of Japanese art is a good way to keep yourself occupied. While origami paper would be nice. This form of Japanese art is a good way to keep yourself occupied. This form of Japanese art is a good way to keep yourself occupied.

Sudoku

Even though it’s all about numbers, you do not need any math skills for Sudoku! Available for free online, you will find that there are beginner and advanced sudoku puzzles. Start with the easy ones and work your way up.


The COVID-19 pandemic, like many pandemics before, will pass in time. In the meantime, we have some challenging weeks ahead. How well we cope with this is all about our mindset. You may find yourself in a situation where you are required to self-isolate. As a student this presents particular challenges but also many opportunities. This is our guide to managing self-isolation and making the most of it.

Start your day right
Even if you’re not planning to go anywhere, get up at your normal time and follow your usual morning routine. Maintaining this will help you set the tone for the rest of the day, get your mind and body ready to “go”, create stability, giving you control over your daily schedule and enable you to set time for each of your priorities for the day.

Balance work and play
If you typically study or work between certain hours of the day, maintain that habit. You might need to push yourself to get some work done, especially if you feel a bit down or have lots of distractions at your fingertips. Set yourself tasks to complete and once done you can enjoy dedicated time for your leisure activities such as playing an instrument, playing video games and spending time with your family or friends over digital means of communication. You will get a great sense of achievement as well as having something to look forward to and the motivation to complete what needs to be done.

Maintain a sleeping routine
It might seem odd when you’re not going anywhere to set an alarm. However, it is important that you keep a good sleep schedule. A good sleep routine also includes creating a sleep environment that’s comfortable for you, exercising during the day and engaging in low-key relaxing activities before bed. A good sleep routine maintains your internal clock, helps improve your immune system and supports strong brain function, all of which are important for your physical and mental wellbeing when you need it most.

I'VE STARTED DOING MORE MEDITATION AND TAKING THE TIME TO READ AND JUST DO NOTHING. IT HAS IMPROVED MY SLEEP A LOT. I'M CALMER AND LESSONS ARE EASIER NOW.

Sasha Fern

2nd year student, Therese House, London

Stay active
People’s level of physical activity depends on their lifestyle. The average step count for an adult is in the range of 3000 to 7000 steps per day. When you are self isolating, you’re no longer walking to class, running to see friends, or going up and down steps. Start a light workout routine that you can safely complete in the space you are in. Alternatively, you can dance to your favourite music. Aim for at least 30-minutes of exercise everyday. You can break that into 5-minute or 10-minute workout intervals throughout the day. Increasing and maintaining fitness is great for your concentration levels, it also improves sleep and releases endorphins (the chemical that makes you feel happy).

Maintain your relationships…digitally
If you are unable to meet with friends and family in person, utilise digital apps to spend time together instead. It is important to check on your friends and family at this time as they might need your help and support. They could also be worried about you and need reassurance that you are well. Maintaining social connections provides a sense of belonging sense of wellbeing and helps relieve stress which are some of the best ways to maintain our overall.

Get things done
Staying in because you have no other choice may be frustrating, but you can turn this into a positive experience. This is the time to catch up on projects that you’ve been too busy to start / complete or have just been putting off. This is also a good time to clean and tidy your space and sort through anything you no longer need that you can donate to charity. Increasing productivity gives you a sense of purpose and keeps your mind distracted from worries you may have.

Try something new
This is a good time to experiment with activities you can do on your own and find new hobbies. Try writing, scrapbooking, painting, cooking, yoga, enrolling in an online course or exploring new online games. Engaging in a new activity could relieve stress, build self-confidence, increase your knowledge and help create a good work-life balance.

Get involved with your residence
If you are self-isolating in a student residence community, many other students are probably doing the same. Contact the management team and see if they are offering any activities that you can do. You might end up learning a new skill or meeting a new person… digitally.

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