Just like that, we can see the end of the semester on the horizon. It is no secret that this semester has been like no other we have ever seen at UON, and as we race full steam ahead into the final weeks of classes you may be feeling slightly (or very) overwhelmed 🙋‍♀️.

The end of the semester comes flush with a bunch of assessments and exams, and to make matters worse, they’re all due at once. But don’t throw in the towel just yet, there is still time to smash out those final assessments and if the stress is getting to you remember that you have come this far. You’ve done weeks of study and work already, and that truly is half the battle.

You wake up with a sore throat and assume the worst is coming. You check your inbox and see the bills you need to pay, even though you’ve lost your job. Maybe you’re not worried about yourself, but you are concerned for a family member.

Whatever the reason, there is no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our mental wellbeing. When everything feels out of balance, it can feel impossible to keep up with something so ordinary as uni.

I Zoomed in for a cup of tea with University Counsellor, Dr Emma Kerr, to talk about the ways the pandemic is affecting students’ mental health. Emma also shared her top 3 tips on how to manage those feelings while soldiering on with uni.

There’s no denying that the job market right now is tough and a lot of students are feeling the anxiety of the situation. At UON, we are lucky enough to have a dedicated careers team that assists students in increasing their employability and give them the best chance at landing a job. I got some advice from Renee Smith, a Careers Consultant from the UON Careers Service, about job seeking in a time like this and how we can better our employment prospects.

Who doesn’t love a lazy Sunday… and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…?

Okay, so isolation has got us all feeling a little more Groundhog Day and less Baby’s Day Out (which it should be, because we should be staying home as much as possible!), and there have certainly been a few days where we swapped our study notes for pyjamas and pillows.

Although it may not feel like it, we are still at uni, but this doesn’t mean we have to make it hard for ourselves! There’s a lot of things that can be done from the very comfort of our home. So if you’re struggling with your next assignment, you don’t have to run to your local library and bury yourself in books.

Just sit back, get yourself a cuppa, and check out some of these study supports you can access without even having to leave your bed.

There’s no doubting 2020 has been turned on its head. Those New Year’s resolutions which you set might have well and truly gone out the window. But that doesn’t mean the rest of 2020 is a throwaway. While no doubt different to what you planned, the goals which you set for the remainder of the year can still keep you on track and guide you through 2020 as it continues to unfold. Maybe if you have never set goals before, this extended time at home is your cue to start building your goal-setting capabilities.

I’ve been feeling a bit off lately, and I think it’s because of the whole isolation thing. It’s like staying home all day and doing nothing is bringing me down. A quick survey reveals that a lot of my friends and fellow students feel the same way, that all of this downtime has lost its initial shine and what we’re left with now is an unsatisfying fug. And once you’re in a fug, well, it’s fug as far as the eye can see. It’s hard to understate the difficulty of getting yourself out of a fug like this, they can be comfortable in a way, and being surrounded by fug makes anti-fug efforts that much more difficult. So how do you restore your balance when you find yourself in one? 

Whether you love it or hate it, group work is an unavoidable part of the university experience. While it can be challenging at the best of times, a whole new spanner has been thrown into the works thanks to the unfolding global pandemic. Thankfully, group work can be done online successfully provided you adhere to some important ground rules. UON Learning Development advises that the three keys to online learning success are to manage your time, be proactive, and set up a support network. The following tips will help you smash out your group assignments in our new ‘normal’ online environment.

COVID-19 has made the world shift in a way that we’ve never seen before. Amongst quarantine, social distancing, isolation, business closures and job losses it’s no surprise many are finding it challenging to adjust and remain connected with others in the process.

I always knew I was an extrovert but spending the past couple of weeks inside with minimal exposure to the world outside my small unit and my housemate has made me realise how reliant I am on face-to-face contact with others. With all my University courses now online, the ability to work from home and social distancing guidelines in place, I am one of the lucky ones who have the ability to isolate themselves during this time. Trust me, during my first few days of isolation I didn’t feel lucky at all. As a fairly social and active person, staying indoors all day made me feel more disconnected to the world around me than I ever have despite access full to social media and the news.

Above all, my first couple of weeks practising social distancing has made me realise the importance of staying close to those you care about and taking the time to work on relationships despite the barrier of physical isolation.

So, you’re stuck at home, trying to keep that bod in some sort of fit state, but it’s hard when you’ve stockpiled so many delicious snacks and are lounging around most of the day. The gym is closed, beach runs are off the cards and your motivation just isn’t taking lockdown seriously and has left the house. Well boy do I have a treat for you. Eight of the best free workouts you can do at home with no equipment. Just bring yourself. Tried and tested by a very physically exhausted, yours truly. 

Despite the emotional rollercoaster of being in isolation, there’s one positive we’ve all unanimously agreed on, it’s giving us a lot of time to watch/listen/play/read all the content we’re usually too busy for. So if you’ve cleared out your backlog (or you don’t trust your own content judgment) trust me and my organised guide to all the different types of entertainment you can enjoy during the lockdown. It’s even categorised by Mood, so each of you can be entertained no matter how you feel.

Life throws major obstacles in your way, often at highly inconvenient and challenging times. During these times study can be the last thing on your mind. At the moment, we are all experiencing this external source of stress and disruption with the COVID-19 pandemic which has changed our lives for the foreseeable future. Global pandemics aside, personal and internal battles such as mental health, relationship breakdown, natural disaster, or grief might also interfere with your study at different stages of your degree. In what is undoubtedly a troubling time, it can seem impossible to stay focused on study. Thankfully, there are ways to keep yourself on track, stay resilient, and come out the other end proud of what you have accomplished and overcome.

What does physical distancing actually mean? 

Social and physical distancing are the words of the day, but what does this actually mean and why is it necessary? Firstly, we need to look at how COVID-19 is transmitted between people. The virus is spread via airborne droplets which spread from one human to another via contact and proximity. To minimise our exposure to the virus we therefore need to maintain a safe social distance from others wherever possible.

The Australian Government’s most up to date social distancing guideline recommends the following:

  • Stay at least 1.5 metres away from others
  • Do not shake hands or exchange physical greetings
  • Practice good personal hygiene (such as thoroughly washing your hands, especially after you have been in a public place).
  • Stay at home and only go outside if it is absolutely essential
  • Use tap and go and cashless payments wherever possible
  • Travel at quiet times and avoid crowds
  • Avoid public travel and at-risk groups such as the elderly
  • Public gatherings have been restricted to two people

Reasons for leaving the home include shopping for food, exercising in a public park (with no more than 2 people), attending medical appointments, and going to work or education provider if it is not possible to do this from home. Within your home there are further actions which you can take including

  • Keeping visitors to a minimum (read: no house parties)
  • Increasing ventilation by opening windows and doors
  • Regularly disinfecting commonly touched surfaces such as door-knobs and light switches

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and guidelines can change daily. Check this website for updates. https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus-covid-19/social-distancing-for-coronavirus-covid-19

How to stay connected safely

While undoubtedly disrupting our ordinary lives, these measures are absolutely necessary to slow the spread of the virus, protect our communities, minimise the burden on our healthcare system, and save lives.

Physical distancing does NOT mean you socially distance too! One positive from this pandemic is that we will learn fun and creative ways to keep in contact with friends from afar. Staying connected is so important for our mental health and overall wellness. Check out the following ways to keep your social life thriving from your own home:

  • Netflix Party is great for a long-distance movie night with your pals.
  • Craving a house party? There’s an app for that.
  • FaceTime and Facebook Messenger are perfect for video chats with multiple people. Why not schedule in a ‘video chat hour’ every day with your friends?
  • Discord, while mainly used for gaming, can also be used for communication and chatting.
  • Bring out old school multi-player digital games like Words with Friends, Club Penguin, Minecraft (there are literally hundreds out there!)
  • Bunch is an app which lets you play mobile games with your friends
  • TikTok is the perfect way to showcase your wacky and wonderful home dance routines
  • Drawful is an app where you can be weird, artistic, and creative (like an online version of Pictionary).
  • Online meeting platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts can host one MASSIVE group chat
  • Use Twitch to watch livestreams and join an online gaming community
  • To keep it really simple, why not have a simple phone call with your best mate?

We are SO fortunate to be living in this era when staying connected is as easy as clicking a button. There are literally hundreds of apps designed for long-distance socialising. Schedule in some rituals, find something which you and your pals love, and make sure you get that compulsory dose of social interaction every day! Netflix party anyone?


For info updates on the University’s response to COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 page.

Feature image via Unsplash