Coping during uncertain times


By Sue Chan-Wyles a 3rd Year Mandarin Chinese and International Relations NTU student

The coronavirus has impacted me a lot over the past 3 months, with questions concerning my university degree and my life. Only a few days ago, I heard that my year abroad has been officially cancelled. Before then, my classmates and myself were surrounded by uncertainty everywhere we go – how would this virus impact my year abroad? I can’t go back to China, so I’m losing the skills I picked up while I was there. If my year abroad is cancelled, what do I do with my time? Do I get a job? Do I study for external exam qualifications? But one thing was for sure – I can’t let my worries drown myself in anxiety and depression.

Of course, this is easier said than done when you have these thoughts constantly running through your mind. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t plan my days more than 3 days at a time because I hadn’t heard anything from the university about what our next steps were. I couldn’t get a job if I was going to return to China at some point. I had nothing to look forward to. As far as I was concerned, I didn’t know where I would be in one or two weeks’ time.

It is understandable to be confused and lost, but it’s how you build a bridge and get over troubled waters. You don’t let yourself drown, you swim and get out of the water. When your coping mechanisms are no longer there to provide you comfort and happiness, it’s scary. I understand that. It takes time to process, and time to develop new routines and new coping mechanisms.

Sometimes, the best way to deal with these feelings is to simply feel them, and then let them go. When I was anxious and depressed about uncertainty related to this terrible coronavirus affecting many, I would often try to avoid or neglect these feelings. I can tell you now, that this wasn’t the right thing to do. I had to be able to feel the anxiety, the uncertainty, being scared before being able to heal, cope with it and build again from scratch.

Contrary to what people tell you, it is okay to cry it out if you’ve reached your limit and you can’t stop your tears from falling from your eyes. If you cry, it means you’re feeling your feelings. Also, crying is scientifically proven to be good for your skin – so cry away your sadness and get good skin in the process. It’s a win-win to me.

Just know that this situation is a time where it is temporarily bad for now, but it will be gone eventually. There is an end to this madness, but in the meantime, I ask you to follow this advice:

  • Check on your friends. Dedicate some time each day to text, call or videocall your friends and family to make sure they’re okay. It might be beneficial to both to just have a conversation with someone that isn’t your mind.
  • Be kind to yourself. It’s hard sometimes to be kind to yourself when you feel like the world around you is falling apart but know that it’s okay. Give yourself a nice bath (if you have one), start a TV show that will make you laugh or give yourself a deep pore mask. Your self-care is as important as you care for others.
  • Tell yourself it will be okay. Tell others it will be okay. Being positive begins with yourself. Remind yourself that it is all going to be okay, one way or another. Reassurance is key, even if someone isn’t there to provide that for you. You will always have yourself, even in the darkest of times.
  • Don’t neglect your health. Keep eating and make your bed every morning – staying in bed will make you feel worse. Take those vitamins and minerals your parents always nag you to do. You need it at this important time.

Don’t forget that Student Support Services are still here to support you and we are regularly posting through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well as over on the Virtual Global Lounge Team and the new Stamp out Stress Team

For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Depression advice
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness

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