Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Finishing my university degree at the beginning of the pandemic last spring was one of the most challenging situations I have been in. Before the first lockdown hit, physically attending lectures on campus and chatting to friends and coursemates before and after lectures was a well-needed break in between studying and it added variety to the day. Of course, all of this ended when lectures went online and social interaction was limited to those in your household only. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who didn’t feel as engaged in online lectures; there’s something a bit awkward about interacting on a zoom call, especially when you can’t see everyone!
I know plenty of others who were in the same boat as me, I don’t think anyone was ready to adapt so quickly to working within the same four walls for the whole day. There were difficulties that arose with that, especially as I had left my university accommodation where I had my own desk and travelled back home where the only space I could work at was the kitchen table. In addition to that, I felt like I had lost some of the independence I had at university by living with family again.
These challenges became easier over time as I adapted, but I would never recommend doing work in the same room that is used for relaxing, as it can be hard to separate the two and it’s far too easy to sit on the sofa and watch something on Netflix instead of getting work done!
One of the biggest lessons I learned was that looking after my wellbeing was paramount to ensuring I completed my dissertation deadline. I made sure I got out for walks every day and did some form of exercise or yoga to get my body moving and make sure I didn’t feel too stressed. I also made sure to do activities that I enjoyed in the time I wasn’t working; creative writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed and I was fortunate that I could incorporate this into my final dissertation which included a short story within it. I was also able to launch a virtual book club, discussing various fiction novels, as part of my part-time job at the time, which is something I have now continued in my graduate role too and has been lovely to connect with people virtually and have a bit of escapism in a time when meeting up physically isn’t completely safe.
If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I wouldn’t have had to try as hard to look after my own wellbeing, or had enough time to launch a book club.