‘Dear Lenton’ Week One: All Things Lockdown

Living in lockdown, relationships and everything in between

Your new Notts ‘agony aunts’ are here with the first edition of Dear Lenton. We wanted to give you guys the opportunity for weekly advice, with this weeks piece touching on the struggles of lockdown and its impact on students.

Q1: I’ve been feeling really anxious during this second lockdown, especially being at uni without the comfort of home and family. I’m struggling with my mental health. Do you have any advice?

Firstly, we just want to let you know you’re definitely not alone, this period has been really tough for everyone. Being away from home at this time can be daunting, but there are a number of things you can do to help yourself and keep on top of your mental health.

Get those endorphins pumping and your heart racing

We’ve all had our lazy moments, but trust us that a good stint of exercise will always make you feel better. Whether it’s a long stroll through the stunning Wollaton park (well, stunning for Nottingham anyway), or bashing out a Chloe Ting ab workout in your lounge (throwback), we guarantee that it will relieve anxiety and clear your head. Why not drag your housemates along too? Group exercise will keep you all motivated and ensure you have fun.

Get your creative juices flowing

We’ve all found ourselves doing some strange activities over this period. However questionable these may be, trust us when we say that keeping busy and distracted is a great way of overcoming anxiety, so why not fill your time with a few of the following?

From personal experience, doing a house Come Dine With Me is an excellent way to channel your stress, whilst showing off your best cooking skills and enjoying the (hopefully) amazing food cooked by your fellow housemates. Jam to your favourite playlist whilst whipping up your mum’s famous spaghetti bolognese recipe, bringing a piece of home into your uni house. Other suggestions consist of a movie marathon with your favourite snacks (bet you can’t beat all 8 Harry Potter films in 3 days), games night or a self-care evening filled with face masks, relaxing music and meditation.

Stay connected to family

I’m sure many of us can empathise here, we all miss our families and our home comforts. However, there are many ways for us to interact with our loved ones back home, even if they’re across the country. With FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp video, there are endless resources to ensure you’re not left lonely. One of the biggest steps in overcoming mental health problems is reaching out and talking about how you feel. Whether it be your parents, friends/ loved ones, personal tutor or even a professional, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of this.

Q2: Do you have any advice about dating during a pandemic? Been speaking to a girl and want to take her on a first date, but everything’s shut, what do I do?

Trust me, we feel you. It’s hard enough dating when life is normal, never mind in a global pandemic, or even worse, during a national lockdown. Here are some tips and ideas of how to date in 2020.

You’d be lying if you said you hadn’t been asked on socially distanced walk by someone you’d just matched with on hinge back in March, so let’s bring back this trend (winter edition – wrap up warm!). Why not spice things up by bringing a picnic full of your favourite foods from none other than Sainsburys local?

Whether you’re the type to geek out on Glee and all things musicals, or you’re more into the more riveting serial killer documentaries, share some time together on Netflix Party where you can chat whilst simultaneously watching your favourite programmes and movies together.

Just because you can’t take her to Coco Tang, doesn’t mean dating in lockdown is a negative thing. Forced to meet under these circumstances is a great way to get to know someone better and put yourself out your comfort zone. You never know, she may even be the one.

Q3: This year has been really overwhelming and I keep falling behind on my uni work. I’m finding it hard to stay motivated whilst being stuck at home. Help!

I think we can all appreciate that the teams 9am seminars are a blessing when you can roll out of bed (or stay in bed) at 8:59am. However, the lack of routine and schedule can make keeping up with your uni work a real challenge, so here is some advice on how to stay on top of it all.

Start by creating a timetable of your own. We cannot stress enough the importance of routine, so planning each day, alongside a set of goals is essential in order to stay organised and make progress. Start by setting your alarm and getting ready to start the day. Make sure not to get back into bed to do your work – the distinction between working and relaxation is really important. When working at home, sit at your desk, or perhaps downstairs with your housemates. If you find yourself getting easily distracted, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of study spaces available on campus. Top tips include working in the Monica Partridge building (forever in our hearts T&L), booking a silent study space at Hallward or George Green or the newly opened study spaces in the Trent Building. As a first year, you’re lucky enough to get your own study area in your halls, so we recommend you take advantage of this whilst you can.

Studying effectively

Remember to drink loads of water, eat a balanced diet (we all know how hard this is at uni) and get plenty of sleep to boost your concentration levels. But most importantly, take regular breaks and don’t be too hard on yourself, who even needs a degree anyway?

Q4: I feel like lockdown is putting a huge strain on my relationship as my boyfriend goes to another uni. I feel like we’re drifting and I’m scared he’s losing interest because we can’t see each other. What shall I do?

Unlike the first lockdown, we have faith that life will go back to relatively ‘normal’ on the 2nd December, just in time for the most romantic season of the year. We are all for living in the moment, but at times like this, it can be healthy to get excited for the near future. Making festive plans with your partner is a great way to keep the spark going. Order some matching pyjamas and make a list of your favourite Christmas movies to watch together whilst eating a fat box of quality streets and some warming mince pies. Plan some romantic dinner dates and cocktail nights in your favourite spots, and look forward to the weeks to come rather than dwelling on the negatives.

In the meantime, remind each other of all the memories you have shared together and the positives of your relationship. Despite not being able to physically be together, there are ways of staying connected during this time. We have all found it difficult to adapt to this new way of living, but from something as simple as daily Facetime, to sending care packages filled with their favourite things, you and your partner can still continue to make each other happy.

Remember, don’t overthink, as everyone is in the same boat. Everything happens for a reason and if he’s the one then his interest will remain with you. You can overcome this hurdle together, like you’d do with anything else, and this will only make you stronger as a couple.

Q5: My housemates are not following the government guidelines, and are constantly socialising. I feel really uncomfortable and it’s making me anxious to go home to my family over Christmas. How do I confront them without causing drama?

At sensitive times like these, we have to respect other people’s outlook and opinions, so don’t hold back in using your voice. I know it might seem daunting to approach a group of people who have differing stances than you, especially if you live with them, but in the sake of personal safety, you should definitely stand up for yourself.

Rather than the scary idea of talking to all your housemates at once, try approaching your closest friend in the house, one that you feel most comfortable with and can trust. Tell them about your anxieties as a result of the constant socialising: explaining how this could have a negative knock on effect on your family members. Hopefully they will see it from a more sensible and considerate point of view like yours, and will start to respect your wishes as they should.

Or if you’re feeling confident, make sure the time is right and spark a conversation with all your housemates together. Just start a mature and calm discussion with them and go from there. This is the best way to avoid drama by being upfront and honest rather than complaining behind their backs. If they kick up a fuss, take comfort in the fact that you’re doing the right thing and stick to your guns.

That’s all from us this week!

We hope this has been insightful and helped to diminish those very normal uni anxieties. Stay tuned for next week’s edition of Dear Lenton, where we will be answering all your questions and queries regarding post lockdown and pre-Christmas. All questions are anonymous.

Click here to ask questions for next week’s edition.