Coping with isolation

I’ve been locked at home for almost three whole months. I was isolated for two months in China, as the virus situation was extremely bad in January and February. To continue my study, I transferred to a third country and was isolated for a fortnight while there.

When I finally got here the only result was that I have another 14-day isolation period, with a high study load. I feel I’m spied on by the hotel I live in now as I can’t even open the door to have ventilation. If I do, I get a phone call from the reception telling me not to do so.

I’ve been locked in prisons for doing nothing wrong, deprived with freedom or even the right to see the sky. So many troubles, the policy change, time difference adjustment, study load, sleeping problems, no food, apartment rental, life plan, parents’ divorce issue, Chinese discrimination… nothing is right. Who can help? I see little hope.

Thank you for reaching out, it is clear that you have experienced very challenging circumstances in these unprecedented times. It is understandable that you are feeling overwhelmed during this period of isolation. Like you, many Melbourne University students are experiencing stress and anxiety as they try to manage academic demands in addition to the far-reaching impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. You can find specific strategies and advice for coping during the Covid-19 pandemic here or you may wish to enrol in one of the Counselling and Psychological Services workshops on boosting your resilience and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For most people, there is likely to be some impact on mental wellbeing when in circumstances of extended isolation from other people.  Hearing your story, I can imagine that there is a cumulative effect from multiple experiences of isolation which must be very hard to cope with.  It may be helpful to remember that although your period of isolation is very restrictive, that it is temporary and aimed at keeping you and others around you safe from Covid-19.

It may be helpful to try to build structure in your day to reduce feelings of restlessness, sadness or demotivation. Many activities that usually provide structure to the day have been affected for students, leading to difficulty focusing on tasks and remaining motivated. Socialising and regular exercise or sport are common activities that have been impacted and many students are turning to online platforms as a way of re-engaging with friends, family and other resources.

We know that social connection and physical exercise are both very important for our mental wellbeing. The Melbourne University Sport centre has developed some online resources to guide students who wish to exercise at home. There is also a new Melbourne University student resource called The Social Connection that has been designed to connect students and foster and sense of community while the University as a whole operates remotely.

If you think that speaking to someone would be helpful, then I would encourage you to book an initial telehealth consultation at Counselling and Psychological Services. As a student of the University this is a free and confidential service that can be delivered remotely and safely while you are in isolation.

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