Here’s what Lancaster students have learnt from the first lockdown

Just in time for lockdown 2.0

We’re all used to going back to things we know aren’t good for us. Whether it be another round of sparkly green shots, or that ex that seems to always have you crawling back – it’s human nature, student life. And, just as Ariana pointed out in ‘Thank U, Next’ we do it (or at least we tell ourselves we do it) because it teaches us something. Thank you sweet grace of God for making me submit my essay ten minutes late, now I have truly learnt never to do it again.

One thing I’m sure none of us were rushing to go back to was lockdown. The land of Tiger King, Joe Wicks and eye burning Zoom quizzes submerged into the past as soon as those pub doors re-opened. Alas, we find ourselves in lockdown 2.0 and whether you’ve dived home to keep yourself sane, or remain in Lancaster, there’s still a sense that it’s actually March 2020, not November.

Seeking for some sort of guidance, we asked the wisest of Lancaster students exactly what they learnt from the first lockdown, in hopes that we can take their words of wisdom to reshape the next four weeks of lockdown: take two.

Rebecca, third year business management

Rebecca spent the first lockdown at home in north wales, but she is spending lockdown two off-campus in Lancaster. “I said how important exercise is for mental health because when lockdown one happened and gyms shut and sports clubs etc couldn’t commence, I noticed a change in my mood and noticed I began not to like how I looked. I wasn’t even walking anywhere because obviously there was no where to go.

“So mid-way through the first lockdown I started making sure I walked 10000 steps a day no matter the weather, did a one hour workout a day and noticed not only a better change in my body but the endorphins released made me feel so much happier, more energised and I was getting better sleep compared to being just sat in all day watching TV.

“So, I’m taking walks round Williamson park and making sure I do a workout for an hour a day as I would usually train in the gym and then also being mindful of what I eat.”

Lottie, MSc management

“So I took up reading, dancing and drawing during the first lockdown which really helped me relax away from the screens, especially since everything moved online. I was in my third year studying theatre and english literature and doing my dissertation and several other uni assignments back at home with my family, so I spent a good majority of the day at a screen.

“Having these hobbies helped me focus on something other than work which can be difficult when you have to do everything from home. This time, I’m staying at uni and I’m also classed as ‘high risk’, so doing these activities are really important to keep up my spirits and positivity when things are rough.

“I always try and work from my desk and then relax in the kitchen with my flatmates or chill by myself on my bed. If you work in bed you’ll usually find it difficult to sleep later because your brain starts to associate it with productivity, so try and keep the two separate if you can!

“As cheesy as it sounds, I also write down five things I’m grateful for every morning. It helps me focus on the positive things in life and I can look back on them if I start feeling down throughout the day. It also keeps you humble and helps you remember that there is always someone in a worse situation who would love to be where you are. Most of all, remember that you’re not alone. Take as much time as you need for yourself and reach out to someone if you’re struggling.”

Emryn, third year maths

Emryn also spent the first lockdown at home but remains in Lancaster for the second. “Productivity doesn’t define your worth,” Emryn says, “Basically if you don’t do anything all day it doesn’t matter, you’re not less worthy of love and kindness or anything because you haven’t been productive. Especially when there’s a global pandemic, you shouldn’t focus on trying to get everything done every day, you should instead listen to yourself and only do what you can, not what you feel like you should do.”

Rebecca, third year history and politics

In the first lockdown, Rebecca was living at home with family but is spending the second one in Lancaster. “I struggled at first as each day seemed to blend into one and my days consisted of missing my friends and my boyfriend. But I found getting a routine really helped to distract me from this and helped keep structure in my life!

“I kept a good bedtime so I was awake in the mornings and got into a pattern of working, making sure to have set breaks where I’d make sure to have a chat or Facetime with someone, then doing a form of exercise at the same time every day! It really helped my days go quicker. I found setting different patterns for weekends helpful to keep a week/weekend structure! Even if you don’t map out times, I found it really useful to set goals of what to do in that day, whether that be a workout or organising my wardrobe. I know I’ll be doing this in lockdown part two in Lancs! Take it one day at a time!”

Josh, first year film and creative writing

“I experienced the first lockdown at home after it being announced that a levels were cancelled, in addition to everything I had planned for the summer, it was a real low point for my mental health. Which, along with all of our uncertainty about grades and trying to apply for student finance made everything feel quite overwhelming.

“I ended up stumbling across a Russell Brand video on YouTube about meditation, and while at first being very sceptical I decided to give it a go. What put me off at first was the idea that meditation has to be a very specific practice. This awareness of my own presence [in meditation] was really helpful in dealing with my own anxiety, and really helped me to cope with nervous thoughts when they did occur.

“Often times when I did meditate, said anxious thoughts would come to the forefront of my mind and my concentration would wear a bit and I’d just have to stop, but the more I kept going the easier it became to acknowledge those thoughts but ultimately allow them to pass. ”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

‘I’m not prepared to sacrifice my mental health’: Lancs students on going home for lockdown 2.0

‘I don’t really see a point in staying here’: How students feel moving into Tier Three

Driving on google maps and guess the rock: Life on a Lancaster Uni virtual field trip