Being a graduate in lockdown: Sophie’s story

Last published 20 April 2021

Things were looking pretty good for me in March 2020. The previous six months had been rocky for my mental health but life was getting better – I’d just started a new job, I was saving up to move out soon, and I was making a conscious effort to open up and see friends more. The hard work of the past four years was about to pay off; I was finally making the transition from ‘basically still a teenager’ to ‘fully fledged adult’.

When the first lockdown hit, I realised these plans would be on hold for a while. The momentum I’d been relying on ground to a halt and I was housebound for the foreseeable. Lockdown started to take its toll as I watched the progress I’d seen in March disintegrate faster than my concept of time.

I knew I was in an incredibly lucky position compared to others. I lived with people and pets who love me, I was still working, and I hadn’t lost anyone to the virus like so many had. I didn’t feel I had the right to feel so low and I didn’t want to dump my feelings on others going through exactly the same, if not worse. It was only when I was consoling a friend that I realised how ridiculous this was. After telling him not to be so hard on himself, that it was only natural to feel stagnant, I realised what a hypocrite I was being.

Stay in touch with friends (even when you don’t feel like it)

‘Talking to your friends’ is obviously not a groundbreaking revelation but it can be harder than it sounds when the notifications are piling up and, even though you haven’t left the house in days, you somehow don’t have the energy to reply. If you’re feeling disconnected, chances are your friends are too. Frankly, who wouldn’t right now?

But when you’ve got nothing new to report, catch-ups can feel forced. Having a casual virtual weekly/monthly film night with friends made it a lot easier to keep on top of. There’s no obligation to bring your A-game of witty conversation if you’re not feeling up to it – it’s just nice to be able to switch off with other people once in a while.

Try new things (even if you’re not an expert)

What I’ve also found useful when trying to break out of a funk is just being easier on myself when I try new things. If I want to try art, not every drawing I do has to be good. If I want to give baking a go, it’s enough to make a simple batch of brownies rather than become a master baker.

It can be discouraging picking up new projects that don’t come to anything, but I’m much more likely to try something new if I remind myself that anything I manage to produce is a bonus – something light and fun that I'd be glad I tried out.

Keep on top of life admin (even if it’s just a little at a time)

The same goes for the mundane. It’s ok to take a day off to get back on top of things that have been slipping, be it the washing, cleaning/organising your room, finding presents, etc.

These kinds of chores take time and energy that you don’t always have. Giving yourself a break and realising that anything you manage to do is more than you had done before can be refreshing. Even if all you accomplish is finally having one clear surface in your room.

This year has been one of the longest on record and, with all that time passed, it’s too easy to look back and think ‘What have I actually done this year?’ Well, I survived it, and everything on top of that is a bonus.

A message from us

Good Thinking provides a range of resources to support your mental health, including NHS-approved wellbeing apps, expert advice and podcasts. If you’re a student or recent graduate and you’re feeling anxious, stressed or sad, you might find the following useful:

Five ways to good mental wellbeing (article)

How to stay mentally healthy at university (toolkit)

Self-compassion workbook

Speakers Collective Mini-Series (videos)

Student Health App

Supporting students through coronavirus (podcast)

The future of work (podcast)

tomo (app)

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