Tips to manage your mental health while studying in isolation

Feeling anxious, isolated, or scared? You are not alone. More than four in five Brits are worried about the impact Coronavirus is having on their lives, according to data from Public Health England.

Fortunately, there are lots of simple steps you can take to stay mentally healthy during lockdown.

Stay in touch

Now more than ever, it’s important to make the effort to stay in touch with loved ones online or over the phone. “Reaching out to friends and family is critical,” says Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind.

If you are finding studying at home lonely, you can also connect with other AAT students via online forums – or lighten the mood with resources such as podcasts.

Patrick Willis, Learning Services Media Lead at AAT, says: “The Learning Pods series on our new Lifelong Learning Portal gives you a chance to hear directly from subject-matter experts in our industry. “It is designed to delve deeper into key areas that students have historically struggled with, and provide a few laughs along the way.”

Be kind to yourself

It’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself, especially if you have had to take on new responsibilities such as educating your children or looking after older relatives while working from home.

Pursuing a new interest online is fine, but students should not worry about racing ahead with their learning during lockdown.

Instead, why not treat this strange time as an opportunity to really get to grips with areas of accountancy you find challenging?

“Try to ensure that you have time to exercise and recharge your batteries,” says Accountancy Learning tutor Ashley Pocock. “If you can study that is great, but the course and exams will be there when things return to normal.”

Stick to a routine

Following some form of routine, such as getting up at a similar time each day, is widely recognised as one of the best ways to protect your mental health. And when it comes to studying, having a routine can also boost your chances of success.

“I have encouraged my students to establish a daily routine with regular study and break times, and to aim to achieve a particular section or topic each week,” Pocock says. “This approach has been shown to both motivate students and help maintain their emotional wellbeing.”

Just remember to keep your days varied and look after your physical health too. Gareth John, chairman, and director of Accountancy training college First Intuition, suggests rewarding yourself with a treat after every study session. “Staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and making sure you get enough rest are all also good ways to improve your memory,” he adds.

Seek help online

The internet is a great source of information, advice, and support if you are struggling with poor mental health. Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters platform, for example, has lots of advice on how to combat issues such as anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

It also offers a free “Mind Plan Quiz” that takes just a few minutes and allows the service to provide you with wellbeing advice that is tailored to your specific circumstances.

Claire Murdoch, national director for mental health at NHS England, says: “While we stay indoors to save lives, we must also think about how we can protect our mental wellbeing, which is why I am encouraging everyone who needs it to visit the Every Mind Matters website.”

Top 5 NHS mental wellbeing tips 

1. Talk 

Maintain contact with friends and family via phone and video calls to share how you feel.

2. Routine 

Try writing a plan for your day; setting and achieving goals gives a sense of control and should help you sleep better.

3. Media

If news and social media updates are making you worried, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to them.

4. Learn

Focussing on a hobby or learning something new can help to boost your mood. 

5. Exercise

Try to eat healthy meals, drink enough water, and exercise regularly (while following social distancing rules).

In summary

It’s normal to feel anxious and scared in a situation like this. So don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help – either to loved ones or to an organisation such as Mind (0300 123 3393).

Sticking to a study routine may help to give you a sense of purpose, but it’s vital to allow yourself plenty of time to relax and look after your physical and mental health too.

Further reading

Jessica Bown is an award-winning freelance journalist and editor.

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