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Life in the time of Corona…

Hello, Selly Family.

How are you all faring in these strange strange times?

Has lock down got you stir crazy?

Have you abandoned all areas of personal hygiene, and are currently having to answer all video calls sans camera?!

We very much hope that you are doing as well as you can. We realise that, whilst the Corona Lock Down is spawning some of the best memes that we’ve seen in a long time, it’s no joke to be separated from the people that you love.

Corona is proving challenging in many areas of our lives, and the impact on our mental health and wellbeing can have a cumulative effect. I (Claire) read a really interesting comment yesterday from a probation officer who dealt with those on house arrest. They said that: in week one of confinement, there was a novelty to it – people enjoyed the space and freedom from normal routine; in week two, the need to be a bit more productive set in – people did DIY projects and tackled jobs that had been left ‘for a rainy day’; in week three a genuine malaise and sense of depression and anxiety set in as the reality of the ‘new normal’ became apparent.

We’re currently in Week Three of Lock Down (or longer for those who are in vulnerable groups and have been self isolating), and so we’re in a really tricky time. We’re watching the news and daily events unfolding, and there are very few ways in which we can escape the reality of our current situation.

We’re not Mental Health professionals, and we realise that everyone’s experience of this season will differ – some vastly. We are aware that for those who live with chronic illness, for example, this sense of disappointment – plans being cancelled, hope being deferred, the unknown – is a daily lived reality. We are also aware, as Emily Maitlis so saliently commented yesterday, that the ability to positively exploit any aspect of life under lock down is one that comes from a privileged position.

Notwithstanding the above, and speaking only from personal experience – if you have the mental and emotional space and energy to consider it – I’d like to put it out there that this time of lock down might allow the space for creativity and re-connection – with ourselves, and others.

So, what can we do to stay well – emotionally, physically, socially? The New Economics Foundation have set out the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing in a Time of Social Distancing’. We highly recommend reading the whole article, but the headline ideas behind the ‘Five Ways’ are:

1. CONNECT

Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

2. BE ACTIVE

Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

3. BE CURIOUS

Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

4. KEEP LEARNING

Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. As well as being fun, learning new things will make you more confident.

5. GIVE

Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

The good news?

That Probation Officer that I mentioned earlier? Well, they said that by the end of week three of confinement, a new sense of possibility could open up – people would be open to trying new things as much as they could, to learning and connecting and developing.

Here’s hoping…

As ever, we’re here for you if we can do anything to help.

#StaySafeSelly

Claire, Jackie and the Community Living Team

#ThisIsSelly – James

self portrait of man in glasses in black and white

Introduce yourself

I’m a second year maths student and I’ve lived in Selly since July. Before that I lived in Liberty Park for my first year so I already knew the area quite well. I’m originally from Dorset, so I love everything about the sea. Although, you don’t get much of the coast in Birmingham! As well as my studies I’m in PhotoSoc and would love to be a travel photographer one day, maybe after saving a bit of money from an accounting job. My plan is to use my degree to go onto an actuarial graduate scheme when I graduate but taking photos is definitely my passion!

What is your favourite thing about Selly Oak?

Selly is an amazing place for students. It’s like a second campus right next to the main one – it’s really likely that you’ll have other students for neighbours, and it’s almost impossible not to bump into someone you know on the way to uni in the morning or coming back in the afternoon. There’s a really relaxed feeling because it’s the place most people come home to after a day of studying. So I guess my favourite thing is the chilled atmosphere, and how there’s always someone you know not too far away.

What is the weirdest thing that has happened to you or you’ve seen happen in Selly Oak?

By far the weirdest thing I’ve seen is a girl in one of those blow-up T-Rex costumes doing the Dirty Dancing lift in Circo. It was before Sports Night so it’s not actually too unusual for a Wednesday night!

What does ‘community’ mean to you?

Selly Oak has so much going on and you never feel alone here. There’s always someone around that you know or one of your housemates knows and it’s amazing to have that where I live. Selly Oak is absolutely a community, and I know sometimes students get a bad rap but I think they bring energy and atmosphere to the community. Because Selly is such a fun place to live, with all your mates around you and the best pubs and takeaways right on your doorstep, not to mention the University is within walking distance, it’s sometimes easy to forget that we’re not in uni halls anymore. I’ve had to learn a lot about what it means to live with friends, and as part of a bigger community – no-one will cook or clean for you, you have to set up your own bills, and organise your own rubbish for bin day. That said, I’m already a lot better at that now than I was in the summer when I moved in, and I hope that I can contribute even more and be an even better part of this community as the years continue.