Student Blog: Normality is Near – but be Kind to Yourself!

By Kamila Filipek

Management student Kamila Filipek is our brand-new student blogger. She is currently working her Year in Industry as a Student Experience Assistant on the Canterbury Campus. Every month, Kamila will bring you her unique perspective on current issues impacting students today.
Here, she writes of the return to normal and how to combat post lockdown anxiety after a long stretch of virtual learning.

Many of us struggled during the pandemic trying to use MS Teams and desperately attempting to stay connected online. We were all pleading for things to return to normal, and we can now finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is such an exciting time, to be on campus again and seeing the hustle and bustle of student life and all the things we can get involved with.

However, the idea of face-to-face learning can seem overwhelming and intimidating. Although we all tried to keep up social interactions during lockdown it definitely was not the same.  Hopefully these tips can help you get you back into the swing of thing.

1. Take breaks in between classes 

Taking breaks in between your studies/ classes is essential, not only to improve your retention of information but also to allow your body to recharge. It might be easier to plan your breaks and input them into your Outlook calendar as time blocks, this way you will be less likely to forget. You should ensure you take the breaks you planned and not treat them as secondary to your deadlines or work.

Here are some ideas of things you could do:

  • Meditate: Why not try apps such as Headspace or following a guided meditation on YouTube.
  • Exercise: This would be a great way to boost your serotonin, as if you are happy, you are more likely to be motivated for your studies. This could include joining a sports club, signing up to the gym or going on a walk in your local area.
  • Meet a friend: This could help in grounding yourself, due to the familiarity of the situation, especially if you have recently moved onto Campus.
  • Don’t forget some alone time: Many of us would have had to isolate either alone, with family or friends. Thus, having been pushed into the deep end with socialising with such a large number of new people can be a bit overwhelming. Do something you enjoy, whether that be reading a book, baking something new or even just watching your favourite Netflix series.

2. Try some social activities  

Although this may sound counter-intuitive if you are feeling intimidated with the sudden social aspect of learning; being part of society can be less daunting. Joining a society is a great idea, as everyone in that society has something in common, hence why they are there.

Secondly, there are always lots of activities/ events organised; so that when you do meet new people it will ease the tension. It is also a great way to make connections for the future! Even going to the library with some students from your course can give you a fantastic sense of community and help you build confidence.

3. Give yourself time

As a society we are only just emerging from a very remarkable time at university, give yourself time to process change and do not beat yourself up for feeling nervous. Some people may find it easier to bounce back, but do not put pressure on yourself to be the same, we are all different.

You will get better at socialising and not being overwhelmed. Similarly to a physical injury although you learn how to deal with the pain or even heal, there might be days where the pain comes back. Recognise this and ensure you have tools in place to help you. For example, telling your friends “Could we reschedule today, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed today” is not a bad thing.

4. Ask for help

Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, neither is saying that you feel a bit helpless. The university has a has a number of resources and support available. Whether that be academic support with SLAS, Academic Peer Mentors (KBS stage 1 students) and RLF Writing Fellow.

Or social, you can join the buddy scheme or sign up to get paired up with a stranger at the University, which you can find on the events page for the University of Kent throughout the year. There is also lots of support available in terms of wellbeing, including mental health advisers and counsellors, from the Student Support and Wellbeing team.

For help and support with any of the issues Kamila writes about visit the Student Support and Wellbeing team.

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