Seven mental health tips for students in lockdown

These days, we all focus on not getting physically ill. But being stuck in your house also has an impact on your mental health. How do international students deal with stress, depression and mental health in corona times? And what advice can a mental health professional give to cope with the lockdown?

‘I created a schedule for myself to keep busy, but also keep my mind from thinking too much.’ First-year International Communication (IC) student Carmen Jebeili from Germany found a way to fight the laziness that affected her in the beginning of the lockdown. ‘I feel like, especially now when we are alone most of time, overthinking is a side-effect. So I work out, go for walks outside, do some stuff for school and keep in contact with my best friend.’

Depression
Like Carmen, First-year IC-student Mara Clej from Romania has also been fighting laziness. She found a job to bring structure to her days. ‘I had a lot of free time to kill, and that was not necessarily good because I was really close to depression.’ Mara says. ‘But after I found a job, I had to change my lifestyle and habits again. I completely changed my sleeping schedule, for instance.’

Joris van Essen is a mental health professional at GGZ, the Dutch association of mental health and addiction care. He works with students in Groningen and has some tips on how to prevent depression:

Tip 1: ‘Look for as many positive aspects in your days as possible. This way you won’t be left with your worries the entire time.’

Tip 2: ‘You could choose to have one or two main contacts in the city, with whom you can take a walk or just talk. All from a safe distance of course.’

Tip 3: ‘Keep in contact with your friends and family. You can do this by calling them or (video) chatting.’

Stress and addiction
Mara, Carmen and Joris agree that these are stressful times. Mara noticed that her smoke addiction got worse. ‘I see it as a stress reliever, and I have been faced with a lot of stress in this period.’ Luckily, Joris has some healthier tips to deal with the stress:

Tip 4: ‘Although it’s a bit more challenging, a healthier way to relieve stress is to exercise. Think of yoga or boxing, for example. Meditation and mindfulness are also great ways to get out of your own head and let go of fears.’

Tip 5: ‘Talking about what is making you stressed is something that can relieve stress as well. If you have someone you trust, they can reassure you or simply offer you a listening ear.’

Tip 6: ‘Take time each day to write about positive aspects of your day.’

And bonus tip 7: ‘Remember that however frightful this situation is, it is temporary, and it will end.’