Five ways to look after your mental health in St Andrews over the winter lockdown

Always reach out for help if you need it

As we enter another national lockdown, it is more important than ever to try and keep spirits up.

Although this seems like a never-ending challenge, it is the only way that we will get through the tough times that lie ahead. So here are some ways to make sure that you prioritise yourself and your sanity:

Try an outdoor sport

If you haven’t taken up running or cycling, then why not start now! Even though it is winter you can still get outside and be active.

From the 14th December to the 10th January, Saints Sport and the Can Do Team have organised ‘Run Up’ to 2021 Challenge, which involves a maximum of five people forming a team and tracking the distance they run.

If you don’t fancy running, then Transition have an event titled ‘Walk with Transition’, aiming to improve community wellbeing and tackle loneliness during the pandemic. Both of these events can be found on the Can Do Event Page.

If you are not staying in St Andrews over the break then reach out to some family or friends to take part in outdoor sport. It is a great way to get endorphins flowing.

Start a new hobby

While you have some more time on your hands why not start to build the skill or hobby you didn’t manage to start during the last lockdown?

The Can Do Team are running events over the break where you can work on your art skills, participate in golf lessons, or perhaps take inspiration from the Winter Window display set up by the Byre Theatre and create your own winter craft project.

Starting a personal project over winter and lockdown is a chance to keep your mind busy whilst having fun.

Read something that is not a journal article

During the semester it can feel like there is always more to read, another journal article or research paper, but over the break you can forget about that for a while and choose to read a book for your own enjoyment.

If that is something related to your course then go for it, if you would rather pick up a comic or a magazine then buy yourself your favourite.

There are so many ways to enjoy books and they are a fantastic way to unwind. Watch this amazing YouTube video if you have fallen out of love with reading.

Write a letter to your future self or journal your thoughts

One of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself is to clear your mind and organise your thoughts.

Journaling is a wonderful way to put the hectic nature of our minds to paper and no one but you has to see it.

If you don’t feel thrilled about the idea of consistently journaling then the website FutureMe is an amazing resource that allows you to write a letter to your future self. Then two weeks, three months, or a year later, you can look back and see how different things once were.

Get cooking and build healthy habits

It is extremely easy over winter to set unrealistic goals for ourselves during the month of January, goals that are unsustainable and often leave us feeling worse than when we began. By making small, simple, and consistent changes we can turn them into habits.

Ensuring that we eat well during this difficult time is essential in keeping spirits up and feeling positive. Therefore, take some time this winter to find new recipes, eat seasonally, and enjoy your food.

In St Andrews we are lucky to have local produce stores such as Balgove Farm, Birchwood, or Rocca Deli to buy fresh and healthy ingredients. During exam season we all become a bit careless about what we eat so take advantage of the break and spend a bit more time and money on what you put inside your body.

The idea of living through another lockdown is daunting to everyone. It is vital that we are kind to ourselves and please don’t be afraid to reach out for help!

If you’re struggling with loneliness or anything else over the winter break please email Nightline at [email protected].

Alternatively the Samaritans provide a 24 hour listening service if you call 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258 to be connected with a trained Crisis Volunteer. 

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