Wellbeing and self-care in difficult times

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How to have compassion for how you're feeling - advice from the Student Wellbeing team

  • 03 May 2020
  • 7 min read

The situation we currently find ourselves in is challenging in ways it was hard to imagine before it began. It calls on all of us to adapt to a very different world, and to face significant danger and uncertainty for ourselves, our loved ones, our societies and humanity as a whole. How can we best respond to take care of ourselves and each other while facing these unprecedented challenges?

Compassion for how we are feeling

Our distinctive approach here at the Student Wellbeing Service is all about how to develop the compassionate mindset that helps us bear the uncomfortable feelings that come with challenges and choose effective caring strategies to support ourselves and others.

With the scale of the challenges facing us it is natural for us to be feeling stressed, anxious and fearful on a regular basis. Covid-19 represents a genuine danger, and our emotional threat response system is there to help us respond effectively to dangers and keep us safe. So when our fear helps us stick to social distancing or lockdown measures it is doing its job effectively.

What isn’t helpful is if our threat response system remains in the driving seat, fuelling obsessive worry thoughts, angry attempts to blame others for our distress, or ‘head in the sand’ avoidance of ongoing life challenges. Or if it flips us into a panicky, knee-jerk drive response, spinning our wheels as we try to regain a sense of control through perfectionist overwork or through quick fix pseudo-solutions to our problems (like abusing food or other substances to self-medicate).

More resources

Read more on the pandemic - meeting the challenge, about keeping emotion regulation systems online and in balance, including tips and resources for:

  • Practising self-compassion and self-care
  • Facing and managing difficult feelings
  • Managing increased stress and anxiety

These resources from Mind on Coronavirus and Your Wellbeing and from the World Health Organisation on Doing What Matters in Times of Stress are good places to start.

You might also find our advice on 4 ways to strengthen your support networks useful. 

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