Coping in Covid-19

Living in a time of uncertainty means we might be overly worried and anxious about our future and what might happen. The Student Mental Health team are aware that infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (COVID -19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. We have created some resources and information on how you might feel, how to look after your emotional and physical wellbeing and what support is available to you.

With Coronavirus (COVID-19) there has been a lot of focus and attention on how many people have become ill or died, how we can keep safe and reduce transmission but not a definite answer to when things will go back to normal. Not knowing what might happen can cause a lot of unease and discomfort which can create worry as we try to make sense of what’s going on.

Our priority is to keep staff and students safe and we continue to follow public health and Scottish Government guidelines. Please keep a safe distance when on campus and face coverings must be worn inside college buildings at all times (unless eating or drinking, or exempt and hold a Scottish Government exemption card). This includes wearing a mask or face covering in class. For guides to studying from home and how to use your online learning space please check out these Help Guides on MyCity.

How might I feel?

Things you might experience and feel during this time:

  • Worry.
  • Anxiety.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Over or under-eating.
  • Overthinking.
  • Low mood.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Procrastination.
  • Being snappy or frustrated.
  • Agitation.
  • Lack of control.
  • Confusion about what is going on.

These are all very normal responses to have when faced with uncertainty and are manageable. Below we have outlined some tips and ideas to help reduce those difficult feelings and have also provided specific information on topics that students are facing daily.

If you are experiencing anxiety around handwashing behaviours please check out Minds webpage and information on OCD.

 

    It’s really easy when we don’t have college or work to lose structure to our day. Without structure, it’s easy to turn day into night and lose track of time. Here are some tips to get you back on track:

    • Get up at the same time every day, have a shower and get dressed in the morning, even if it’s only into a new pair of pyjamas.
    • Keep structured mealtimes with nutritious foods if you can– salmon, chamomile, dark chocolate and green tea have been proven to help reduce anxiety.
    • Create a daily planner with a mixture of fun things you’ll enjoy and more structured times for things like college and studying. For study skills support you can still contact Learning Support for guidance.

    Build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. Most of us don’t have exercise equipment but there are still activities you can do. Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities, such as:

    • Cleaning and organising your home.
    • Dancing to music and creating your own dance party!
    • Running or walking up and downstairs.
    • Online exercise workouts that you can follow such as The Body Coach YouTube Channel.
    • Sitting less – if you notice you’ve been sitting down for an hour, just getting up or changing position can help.
    • Mindfulness Walking.
    • Yoga sessions – there are free sessions for City of Glasgow College students on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
     

    Social distancing doesn’t always mean that you can’t be social. We just need to connect with others in different ways. Meaningful interaction with others can promote self-worth and a sense of identity. There are lots of apps available which allow you to speak to people you know or don’t.  The Students Association Societies are still running remotely and these can offer a way of connecting and meeting people even when our opportunities to meet others face to face is restricted.

    If you are feeling anxious about Coronavirus or staying at home more than usual, you may find it helpful to talk about these worries with someone you trust, especially if they are in a similar situation. Many mental health services have transitioned to working online and can provide text/ email/ telephone and online support. Here are a few supports that might be helpful:

    YoungMinds Messenger is a free 24 hour crisis support across the UK. You can text "YM" to 85258 and you will be connected to a volunteer in 5-10 minutes. Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodaphone, Three, BT, Virgin, GiffGaff, Tesco and Telecom Plus. This is a text service and you can remain anonymous.

    Mind runs an online peer support community called Elefriends, where you can share your experiences and hear from others.

    Eden Project Communities offer free webinars and previous content about engaging online and keeping connected/community spirit.

    Togetherall is a free digital online space that has lots to offer. You can access:

    • A wide range of self-guided courses to do at your own pace including on anxiety and depression.
    • An anonymous community where members can support each other.
    • Creative tools to help express how you’re feeling.
    • Self-assessments & recommended resources.
    • Access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
    • Trained professionals available 24/7 to keep the community safe.

     

    You can also check out our section on Coping with Isolation and Loneliness for more information on how isolation can impact us emotionally and ways to remain connected.

    Our Crisis support page has information if you feel you need to speak to someone immediately.

    Media Safety

    As we live in a digital age, we are surrounded by different social media platforms where we are bombarded with different information daily. Think about your access to media and social media and how it impacts you. Some people may find they want to cut off from social media and news and others might need to know what’s going on. It’s sometimes hard to distinguish fact from fiction and to not feel overwhelmed by constant updates.  If you can, try to limit how much time you are spending on social media, watching the news and reading. You may want to think about where you are getting your information from and how this is making you feel.

    Make sure to seek updates from reputable sources like the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    There are lots of different ways that you can relax, take notice of the present moment and use your creative side. Here are some suggestions:

    • Arts and crafts such as drawing, painting, collage, sewing, craft kits or upcycling.
    • DIY.
    • Colouring.
    • Mindfulness – our service offers online Mindfulness classes, please log into MyCity to find out more. You can also check out our wellbeing apps.
    • Playing musical instruments, singing or listening to music.
    • Writing and journaling. Dr James Pennebaker talks more about creative journaling.
    • Learning a new skill - learning new things can give a sense of achievement and reward and help encourage motivation and drive.
    • Yoga sessions - there are free sessions for City of Glasgow College students on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s. Book your place.
    • Meditation – check out our wellbeing apps.
    • Feeling Good App by Edinburgh University.

     

    You can also check out our section on Coping with Uncertainty Anxiety for more suggestions on how to maintain good mental wellbeing.

    Talking to someone you feel safe and comfortable with can be a good way share how you are feeling. Some people can identify people in their lives as someone would talk to, others may prefer to speak to someone who they aren’t as close to. Either way it’s important to identify those people who are more helpful during times likes this so you can pull on them when needed.

    The Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Service is still available to all students and is currently offering telephone assessments. You can learn more about the support we offer, how to access it and what to expect.

    Our Crisis Support section has an available list of emotional support helplines and text messaging services that are available 24/7.

    Our new Togetherall service is here for you whenever you need help. This offers a safe and confidential online space and a variety of support including 24/7 access to a trained mental health professional.

    Here are some other great resources for managing anxiety around Coronavirus:

    In our joint efforts, we are all doing our bit to stay social and be connected to the world however with the restrictions forever changing it can be deflating, frustrating and lonely. Some people may enjoy the experience of being alone and it may have even relieved some of their anxieties about social contacts, however we all have a limit. Long-term loneliness may already be impacting our motivation, mood, sleep, anxiety and stress levels. This can lead to withdrawing and feeling suicidal and some may cope by self-harming and using drugs and/or alcohol more than before.

    It is in our biology as humans to connect socially with others. Just like hunger signals us to eat, being with others, particularly trusted others, signals safety and comfort. When we don’t have that closeness to others our brain and body can respond with a heightened state of fear and alert leading to increased anxiety, low mood and stress.

    In this video, we discuss the barriers to reaching out and the impact this has on our emotional wellbeing.

    Further resources on how to stay connected including helplines:

    • Mental Health Foundation offers tips on nurturing relationships during a pandemic.
    • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): 0800 58 58 58. Provides listening services, information and support for men at risk of suicide, including a web chat.
    • The Silver Line: 0800 4 70 80 90. Provides support, information, friendship and advice for older people (over 55) who may feel lonely or isolated.
    • NHS 24: Choose ‘Option 2’ to be put through to the Mental Health Hub and speak to a trained mental health worker.
    • Samaritans: 116 123. Free 24/7 emotional listening support service for anyone who needs to talk.
    • Web of Loneliness: Online community and website which provides information and tips on loneliness. Also allows users to share artwork and poetry.
    • Scope: 0808 800 3333. Provides practical information and emotional support for people with disabilities.
    • CitySA Societies.
    • NHS Mental Wellbeing Whilst Staying At Home.

    Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It is a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come or what has been. When we are anxious it can be difficult for us to remain in the here and now where there is no threat or danger and we can be caught up in our catastrophising thoughts. Doing box breathing and grounding exercises can help focus yourself into the here and now and reduce anxiety about the “what ifs” bringing you back to what you actually know.

    Box Breathing Technique

    Breathing in through the nose for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of four and then breathing out through the mouth for a count of four. Repeat this five or six times, saying to yourself internally ‘breathing in’ as you do so and ‘breathing out’ as you do so.

    54321 Breathing Technique

    This is a well-known grounding technique. It involves using all five senses to help you to get back to the present. It starts with you sitting comfortably, close your eyes and taking a couple of deep breaths. In through your nose (count to 3), out through your mouth (to the count of 3). Now open your eyes and look around you.

    Name out loud:

    • 5 things you can see (you can look within the room and out of the window).
    • 4 things you can feel (the silkiness of your skin, the texture of the material on your chair, what does your hair feel like?).
    • 3 things you can hear (traffic noise or birds outside?).
    • 2 things you can smell (hopefully nothing awful).
    • 1 thing you can taste (it might be a good idea to keep a piece of chocolate or other food you enjoy handy. Take a small bite and let it swill around your mouth for a couple of seconds, savouring the flavour).
    • Take a deep breath to end.

    Distracting Brain Games

    There are several ways to distract your mind so it stops thinking about whatever it is that is worrying you and focuses on something that isn’t emotionally driven.

    Here are two quick ways to do it:

    • Pick a colour. How many things in different shades of that colour can you see around the room or out of the window? Still feeling stressed? Pick another colour.
    • Count backwards in sevens, starting at 100. It isn’t that easy and requires you to concentrate. This one can also be helpful to do when you are finding it hard to sleep.

    Meditation & Mindfulness

    Meditation is a way for us to increase our compassion and attention to our thoughts and feelings by training our awareness so we are able to feel without judgement. Being mindful of our emotions and thoughts lets us understand them better and helps us be more kind and compassionate to ourselves when we are going through hardship. It has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and increase feelings of calm and relaxation. Mindful has more information on how to mediate and the benefits if you would like to find out more.

    Below are a few videos on guided mediation:

    Other Tips

    • Think about writing a well-being plan to identify what would be helpful for you during times of difficulty. This could be creating a self-care box or doing more things that you enjoy or learning a new skill.  Check out our YouTube channel to see videos on tips for creating a self-care box and more.
    • Allow yourself to worry, write it down in a notebook and then put it away. Let it go.
    • Reassure yourself, calm yourself.

    Resources

    • Our Mental Health & Wellbeing A to Z for a list of specifics supports and resources.
    • The Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Service is still available to all students and is currently offering telephone assessments. You can learn more about what support we offer, how to access it and what to expect.
    • Mental Wellbeing and Balance is a YouTube channel focussing on different problems and how-to better cope with them.
    • Check out our Relaxation Section for more tips.

    It’s really easy when we don’t have college or work to lose structure to our day.  Without structure, it’s easy to turn day into night and lose track of time. Here are some tips to get you back on track:

    • Get up at the same time every day, have a shower and get dressed in the morning, even if it’s only to change into a new pair of pyjamas. 
    • Keep structured mealtimes with nutritious foods if you can - salmon, chamomile, dark chocolate and green tea have been proven to help reduce anxiety. Ideas on how to keep a healthy diet during COVID-19.
    • Create a daily planner with a mixture of fun things you’ll enjoy and more structured times for things like college and studying. For study skills support you can still contact Learning Support for guidance.
    • Talk to your guidance lecturer and other classmates if you’re struggling to keep motivated, they can give you advice and tips on how to prioritise work. You’re not alone, there will be other people in your class that will be finding it challenging too so consider talking to your classmates too about ways that you can support each other to stay on track. 
    • Use music to help create a relaxing workspace for you to study and focus in. YouTube has a few including this one on ambient music to improve concentration and focus.

     

    Take notice of how you might feel if you are feeling less motivated to stick to a routine, what is difficult about this? Having smaller goals to focus on in your routine can give a better chance of achieving these and leave you feeling accomplished, more focussed and less bored. For example, focus on one thing each day or week you’ll complete that doesn’t feel overwhelming or too out of reach. Write this down and remind yourself that you can do this.

    Finding motivation when the world around us is sending out negativity can be difficult and can impact our thoughts and feelings about our self. How we might think is “I have no place to go so I will stay in my pyjamas all day and not wash” or “Classes are more difficult online so I won’t attend”. This can impact how we feel about ourselves as well as impact our motivation to change. You might notice that you are talking more negatively to yourself by telling yourself that “I am not good enough”, or “I fail at everything” because people around you seem to be coping better. This can lead to procrastination, avoidance and a fear of failure.

    Positive self-talk is a way that we can challenge that negative internal dialogue and flip-it and reframe it so we are more compassionate, understanding and kinder to ourselves and what we are going through. Instead of “I fail at everything”, positive self-talk might be “I can do better next time by learning from my mistakes”

    Practicing positive self-talk can benefit your mental health and help reduce depression, anxiety, PTSD and stress. To find out more about self-talk and how we can show ourselves more kindness, self-compassion and understanding check out these resources:

    As Scotland moves into level 0 and beyond, our world starts opening back up again and you might notice you are feeling more emotions all at once and some of these might feel conflicting. You might be desperate to go out with friends and dance in a nightclub but also feel scared and would prefer to be at home. These thoughts and feelings are all valid as there is no ‘right’ or ‘one’ way for you to feel.

    Some common thoughts and emotions you might experience:

    • Anxiousness.
    • Pressure from yourself or others to socialise, to be out with friends and live your life like it was before the pandemic.
    • Unsure how to socialise with other people.
    • Hopeless about what the future might look like, how your future might look.
    • Fear of the virus still being transmissible and how this might impact you, friends and family.
    • Unprepared and afraid.
    • Reluctant and unmotivated.
    • Low/ depressed.
    • Relieved.
    • Excited.

     

    Read other people’s experiences here:

     

    It’s OK to take time to readjust and you don’t need to force yourself to do things immediately or at all. Additionally, you might feel one way one day and completely differently the next, which can be really confusing but very normal.

    Rethink completed a survey on how people might cope with the easing of lockdown. Some common answers were feeling anxious, fearful, confused with the lack of clarity around the rules and worry about how the future might look. Find out more about the helpful advice and information they’ve provided to feel more at ease.

    Some suggestions of things that you can do to help are:

    • Try breathing and relaxation techniques. These have been found useful for anxiety and overthinking. Create space for yourself to do this at any time in your day and try to keep practicing consistently for it to help. You can find some examples of breathing techniques here or you can find more information about recommended wellbeing apps including Headspace.

     

    • Control what you can control. With lockdown easing there are lots of things that are out with your control and not having this control can leave us feeling anxious and afraid. Take your time to sit and think about what you can control in these situations and create an action plan which includes how you are going to manage things and what you can do if you find them challenging.

     

    • Take your time. It can be hard to see others moving on without us, however not everyone goes at the same speed and it’s important to recognise what yours is. Be aware when you feel pressured or bullied into doing things that you might not want to or feel comfortable with and think about discussing your concerns with those around you so they understand what stage you are at.

     

    • Take a chance. As lockdown eases you might need to encounter different situations that you have avoided for a while like travelling on public transport. These things can be really overwhelming however can become easier when we become more familiar with what to expect. For example, try going on a bus or train at quieter transport times to get an idea of what it might be like. You can build up to busier times as you adjust.

     

    • Create an ‘I’ve done’ list. Instead of writing millions of things to do on your ‘to do list’ try creating a list at the end of your day of all the things you have done. It could be anything from getting up out of bed to spending a full day at work or college. This can really put into perspective how emotionally and physically draining our days can be without all the added extra things and how much you’ve achieved.  

     

    • Vary your routine. Try to vary your routine to add in experiences of different situations and people. This might be going back to that favourite coffee shop or restaurant or walking at quieter and busier times.

     

    • Talk to someone. It can be helpful to make people around you aware of how you feel about the restrictions changing. This can help you put into perspective how this is impacting you and how other people might support you. Sometimes it’s just helpful to be heard and understood without judgement.

    If you feel you need someone to talk to our Crisis Support tile has lots of 24/7 helplines, email and webchat services you can use. Alternatively, you can check out what wellbeing support services the College offer.

    For more information on the level 0 and beyond restrictions for students returning to college please see Scottish Government website and College website on What to Expect for Session 2021-22.

    Across the world millions of people have experienced Covid-19 symptoms and its lasting effects resulting in Long Covid or Post-Covid-19 Syndrome as it’s sometimes called.

    From the NHS website, there are two stages to what is commonly known as Long Covid:

    1. Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19 which is symptoms that last 4-12 weeks
    2. Post-COVID-19 syndrome which is symptoms that last for more than 12 weeks and can’t be explained by another diagnosis

     

    Symptoms of Long COVID (from NHS website)

    There are lots of symptoms you can have after a COVID-19 infection.

    Common Long Covid symptoms include:

    • Extreme tiredness (fatigue).
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Chest pain or tightness.
    • Problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog").
    • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
    • Heart palpitations.
    • Dizziness.
    • Pins and needles.
    • Joint pain.
    • Depression and anxiety.
    • Tinnitus, earaches.
    • Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite.
    • A high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste.
    • Rashes.

     

    It can affect your whole body, and your symptoms can change over time.  If you think you might have Long Covid, you should speak to your GP. They will investigate your symptoms and first try to find out if there are any other possible causes, and see if there’s anything that needs urgent action.

    You should seek urgent medical help by calling 999 if you experience:

    • Chest pain that is sudden or severe and doesn’t go away.
    • Sudden chest pain that is accompanied by vomiting, nausea, sweating, or shortness of breath.
    • Sudden chest pain that is accompanied by a loss of consciousness.

     

    If you have chest pain that comes and goes, you should still speak to your GP about it or call 111 as chest pain should never be ignored.

     

    Some useful resources you can use to help ease the physical symptoms of Long Covid:

    • Managing the long-term effects of COVID-19:  Download SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network) booklet explaining symptoms, treatment and support from Covid-19 and Long Covid.

     

    • British Lung Foundation offer telephone support to speak to a respiratory specialist trained to help you with Long Covid breathlessness.

     

     

    • NHS UK gives you information on what you can expect in recovering from Long Covid.

     

    • Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland's Advice Line nurses provide confidential advice, support and information to help people living with long COVID, or their family members. Freephone: 0808 801 0899 or text NURSE to 66777.

     

    Can Long Covid affect my mental health?

    Our physical and mental health are closely linked and those of us who have physical health conditions such as Long Covid may also experience mental health concerns. This can be for a number of reasons and will vary from each person however these thoughts and feelings are all valid as there is no ‘right’ or ‘one’ way for you to feel.

    Some of the ways you might feel and experience are:

    • Emotionally and physically tired.
    • Frustrated.
    • Grief and loss around who you were before and now.
    • Low self-esteem and confidence.
    • Socially isolated.
    • Discrimated against and stigmatised.
    • Anxious, afraid.
    • Low mood and hopeless.

     

    Read other people’s experiences:-

     

    Some suggestions of things that you can do to help are:

    • Try breathing and relaxation techniques. These have been found useful for anxiety and overthinking. Create space for yourself to do this at any time in your day and try to keep practicing consistently for it to help. You can find some examples of breathing techniques here or you can find more information about recommended wellbeing apps including Headspace.

     

    • Do what you can, not what you should. With some days being easier or more difficult than others, there is a lot of time spent trying to figure out what is too much to do as each day it might be different. Sometimes being aware of your limit can help avoid using all of our energy reserves at once. Have a look at Spoon Theory to help recognise your own levels.

     

    • Create an ‘I’ve done’ list. Instead of writing millions of things to do on your ‘to do list’ try creating a list at the end of your day of all the things you have done. It could be anything from getting up out of bed to spending a full day at work or college. This can really put into perspective how emotionally and physically draining our days can be without all the added extra things and how much you’ve achieved.  

     

    • Vary your routine. Try to vary your routine to add in experiences of different situations and people. This might be going back to that favourite coffee shop or restaurant. Or doing some gardening or DIY. Start small and build up. There is no rush.

     

    • Talk to someone. It can be helpful to make people around you aware of how you feel. This can help you put into perspective how Long Covid is impacting you and how other people might support you. Sometimes it’s just helpful to be heard and understood without judgement.

     

    If you feel you need someone to talk to our Crisis Support tile has lots of 24/7 helpline, email and webchat services you can use. Alternatively, you can check out what wellbeing support services the college offer.

     

    Other support and resources:

    • Rethink provides information on what Long Covid is and how it can impact your mental health as well as some tips on how you can help yourself.

     

     

     

     

    • Student Information and Wellbeing Support from Scottish Government includes information on support if you decide to take time off, financial guidance and your rights when working and studying.