With schools in Wales reopening this term, we spoke with Dr Rachel Dodge, Qualifications Development Manager (and PhD in Psychology – focused on student wellbeing) about how students can protect their own wellbeing and support their friends during this unusual time.
- Get your routine up and running
This period of lock-down has resulted in many of us losing a sense of routine. In the time leading up to returning to school try and start to get back to the routine you used to have during term time. A big part of this is maintaining good sleep patterns. The Mental Health Foundation has some great tips on how to sleep better.
- Talk about how you feel
During the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, uncertainty and constant news updates are now part of our daily lives. Therefore, it is more important than ever to try and talk about how we are feeling. You are likely to have mixed feelings about returning to school so it’s important you don’t bottle up your worries and concerns. Putting our feelings into words helps us to understand them and ourselves better. This is because it forces us to take a proper look at our feelings and to get them into some kind of order. Talking to family and friends about how we feel helps them to understand us better too.
- Try to concentrate on the positives
We have a tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive. In psychology we call this negativity bias. One way to counteract the negativity bias is to make a list of the things we can be grateful for. You can also start to think about the things you are looking forward to when you return to school. Lots of students have been talking about how nice it will be to see their friends and teachers again, as well as having a change of scene.
- Accept that things will be different
Make sure you read about how things will be different at your school. All schools will have their own approach. You can expect to be asked to keep a social distance and you will find yourself in a much smaller group. Your classrooms are also likely to look different and your timetable might not be the same. The more you can understand about these differences the better you’ll feel when you get back to school. This return to school is to ‘Check in, Catch Up, Prepare for summer and September’. Why don’t you make a list of the areas you want to go over with your teachers, or questions you want to ask them before you break-up for the Summer?
- Remember to look out for others
At times like this, it’s easy to get caught up in your own fears and concerns. However, research shows that those who focus on others in need, especially during times of crises, tend to be happier and healthier. Why not catch-up with your friends via text, phone call or a virtual platform to ask how they are before you return to school? Remember, not everyone will be able to return to school. Those students that are ‘shielding’ will need to continue to study from home. Keeping in touch with your friends in this situation will help them feel that they are not missing out. When you are back in school, remember that people will react in different ways. Being aware of this will also help you support those around you.