The Leeds Tab guide to staying happy in quarantine

Being locked in your box room is a recipe for a crisis, but these tips will help

As students, we would usually turn to the sesh or chilling with our mates to deal with the issues and stresses of everyday life. One trip down to the Original Oak, and you’ve somehow ended up in Box without any shoes on and not a care in the world. No need for a counsellor when you have your best mates to get drunk with.

But with lockdown in place it can leave us feeling lonely, cut-off and apprehensive about what the future might hold. Many students are locked away from family and friends, forced to stay inside our little box rooms with people we have only known for a couple of months. Being cut off from the rest of the world including our friends and family outside of our immediate bubble can be very daunting. It becomes easy to fall into traps which affect your mental health.

So, what is there to do aside from sit in bed, order a Pizza Cano, and wonder how life got to this point?

The lockdown vibes are immaculate

It’s important to keep your mind and soul happy whilst you are in lockdown, so we’ve put together a short list of things that might just brighten up your day.

Take a walk

This may seem obvious, but go out for a walk! Taking some time for yourself and allowing yourself to become immersed in nature can have a positive effect on your mental health and wellbeing. Being inside all day isn’t healthy for anyone in general and walking can help improve self-perception, self-esteem, mood and sleep quality. It even reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Plus it’s hard to feel sad when looking at a beautiful sunset. We recommend Roundhay Park or Golden Acre park if you have a car, the Meanwood Valley Trail or little walk around Woodhouse Moor if you don’t’, or a trip to Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales.

Who couldn’t be happy looking at this?

Plan for the future

Planning and looking forward to the future is a good tip for getting out of a slump. A lot of the time, planning events in the future can provide something that will motivate you and keep you looking forwards to better things. When getting in a slump the worst part can be the thought of it never changing, that you might just be in the position you are in forever with no way out. So, make plans with your friends for housing next year, get the best houses by Hyde Park first and go to some viewings together. Plan a holiday and an itinerary to get yourself excited again. Whether it be looking at what’s showing at Hyde Park Picture House, or deciding whether you’ll go to Warehouse or Fruity first after lockdown, anything floats your motivation boat will do.

Move your body

Exercise is another one that can benefit mental health in a big way. Exercise releases endorphins, which is your body’s way of reducing your reception of pain. Meaning you are actually able to deal with stress and any issues a lot better after a good run or yoga session. It has also been proven that physically active people have up to a 30 per cent reduced risk of becoming depressed. What else could be better for you than improving your mental health at the same time as getting rid of the beer belly?

You might not be this good, but moving your body in any way you can will help

Start something you’ve been avoiding

Get started on that thing you’ve been putting off. Whether it’s an email you need to send or starting that daunting 3,000 word essay you’ve been pretending doesn’t exist, you will feel unimaginably better once you have accomplished it. The little stresses of everyday life can really add up and become overwhelming if allowed to build. Just tackling each little stress one at a time will have monumentally positive affects on your anxiety and overall wellbeing.

Positive thoughts

Positive thinking is key! As the roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius said: “Our life is what our thoughts make it”. If you are thinking negatively, this can make your mental state worse. It’s difficult to get away from negative thoughts but once you start thinking positively, you will be more likely to attract positive things. Practising mindfulness can be a useful activity when trying to become more positive. Mindfulness involves anchoring your five senses and concentrating on your positive emotions. So whack on a YouTube meditation video, light some candles, and take a minute to focus on the present moment.

Keep an eye on your pals

It’s important that we all look out for each other in these times, so if you see anyone you know acting differently, they might just need to talk. Sitting down, having a chat and just listening to them can do the world of good. It can be really difficult to reach out sometimes, but it can be so helpful for someone to sit with you and notice you needed that extra helping hand.

Oh to be allowed to the pub again

It’s important to remember it isn’t actually illegal for you to go home from university if you are struggling with your mental health. However, not everyone has a home to go to, so we have compiled some resources if you need a little extra help regarding your mental health. Please don’t ever suffer in silence. Reach out if you need it.

Go to this University of Leeds webpage, this Leeds Beckett University help page, or this Leeds Student Medical Practice page.

You can call the Samaritans (for everyone) on 116 123 or email [email protected], call CALM (for men) on 0800 58 58 58 from 5pm to midnight every day, call Papyrus (for people under 35) on 0800 068 41 41, 9am to midnight every day, text 07860 039967, or email them at [email protected], or call Anxiety UK (for people diagnosed with anxiety or related conditions) 03444 775 774 Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm.