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I’ve been wondering about writing this blog for a while now. I started my studies back up in October 2020, thinking that we were most likely on the road to recovery following the COVID19 pandemic. Only to be greeted with further tiered lockdowns, Christmas plans cancelled, and a new year that bought UK national lockdown 3.0 – not ideal.

Studying during a pandemic, or other global events, certainly has its challenges. I am studying Environmental Studies, and I often find myself swinging between empowerment to learn more so that I can do more, and a sense of hopelessness and debating if I am fighting a battle that is almost certainly already been lost. Finding the motivation to hit the books and write essays, has most certainly been a challenge and I cannot help but think of those who are younger than me, also facing down remote learning and home schooling, whilst coming to terms with what is happening in the world around us.

I haven’t really come up with any sort of miracle answer to how to get past these feelings and the obstacles that are faced by those currently in any form of education, other than you just have to do it. There will be a future, and your education will be a huge part of that. It’s so important that we find ways to stick with it and to work through whatever else life is throwing with us.

My top 5 tips for keeping your sanity when studying in the time of a pandemic are nothing ground-breaking, but they are things that we definitely need reminding of at times. Especially when the world is tough and all we want to do is make a duvet nest and sleep until a brighter day arrives.

  • Eat healthy

It is so easy to live off ready meals, toast, or biscuits when you are busy studying and you have deadlines looming. I am incredibly lucky to have a partner who can cook and is willing to put in the extra work and peel me away from the laptop for long enough to get something nutritious inside me. This really helps to keep you focused and gives you the energy needed to put your all into your studies. If your partner can’t cook, or you live alone, then why not try meal prepping to ensure that you have something tasty and quick to eat whilst you are busy?

  • Have treats to work towards

Yes, eat healthy, but it is also important to treat yourself. Studying during difficult times, such as these, is admirable and you should be rewarded. What needs to be done today? What can you have if you get to that point? It can be a favourite food, or a tv show, or a nice warm bath, or a glass of wine. Find the joy and reward your efforts, especially if you are juggling studying with work, childcare, a pandemic, home-schooling – or all of the above!! You are incredible.

  • Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water! That is just a good tip for life! And no, the boiled water in your endless cups of coffee doesn’t count!! Make time to stop and have a glass of fresh, cold water – this will help keep you focussed, hydrated, reduce snack cravings and ensure that you are always putting your best self forward.

  • Take time to rest

Self-care is a bit of a buzzword right now, but latest trends aside, looking after yourself is vital to your success in studying. Whether you can afford to take the evening off to cook a nice meal and talk to your partner or friends or housemates, or if you just take 10 minutes to drink a cup of tea and take your eyes away from the screen. Recharge, relax and then get back to kicking ass with your chosen subject. Burnout is not the goal.

  • Remember you aren’t alone

More than ever, people are understanding the hardships faced by those in education. With the COVID19 pandemic causing children to be home-schooled and universities to carry on their courses remotely, so many of us are now setting up in our lounges and bedrooms to try and better ourselves. If you are struggling, then make sure you reach out. Why not take 5 minutes now and make a note of the people around you that you could call or message when you need a bit of a moan or some advice? You aren’t alone, even when it gets hard and you want to scream, know that there are so many people sat with their textbooks in their laps feeling the same, and that there are also so many people who have been there but have successfully navigated their way through to the other side. You’ve got this.

The past year has been really trying for us all, whether you are studying or not, but the underlying lesson that we can all take away from this experience is that we need to look after ourselves and also each other. Take some time for yourself, call that friend who is juggling a lot right now, we are living through unprecedented times and it’s ok for that to be hard to digest at times. Remember that each day is a fresh start and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. If we all keep working towards our goals, then we will come out of this situation as better, more rounded, compassionate and educated people. That can only mean positive things for the future.

Go forth and be the amazing person you are. (Now, stop procrastinating with this blog and get some studying done!!).

Written by Rebecca Hansell for Small World, Big Cause Blog – January 2021.

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