Over the last three months, the GAF team has met with many of our scholars online. During the meetups, we learnt about our community's challenges, such as online learning, isolation, disruption of future plans and loss of jobs and opportunities.
Our scholars shared the lessons they will take away from this uncertain time, including the importance of healthy mental habits to develop resilience and maintain a sense of well-being and emotional strength. Below we have compiled their suggestions for staying happy and healthy.
Embrace a new hobby
Many of our GAF scholars embraced a new hobby over the past six months. Hobbies don't just keep boredom at bay; they are an outlet to exercise your mind and gain a sense of accomplishment from learning a new skill. Our scholars' hobbies were as diverse as their studies and included painting, photography, knitting, learning a new language, gardening and, of course, baking sourdough bread.
Expressing things you are grateful for, whether out loud or written in a journal, trains your brain to recognise the positives in your life and cultivates resilience and a happier outlook.
Practise mindfulness and meditation
Whether it is the formal practice of meditation or reminding yourself to be mindful throughout the day, the benefits of these practices can help in many aspects of your life. Sleep, anxiety and stress levels, attention span and relationships have all been proven to benefit from these habits.
Find out more about mindfulness with the Smiling Mind app. The mindfulness program Thrive Inside is designed especially for the challenges we face in the current COVID-19 climate.
Put pen to paper
Journalling is a helpful tool to express your thoughts and feelings, identify and work towards your goals, relieve stress and understand patterns in your thinking and behaviour With time, journalling – whether it be quickly jotting down your thoughts or making lists or writing poetry – can help you form a greater understanding of how your mind works.
Keep a routine
From being consistent with your sleep and meal times to making your bed every day, simple tasks create structure and organisation in your daily life. Our scholars suggested making a list of necessary actions that will keep you healthy and productive. One of their biggest tips was to make time for exercise. From walking and yoga to surfing and skateboarding, our scholars extolled the benefits of keeping active. Don’t throw your routine out the window if you can’t always stick to it; allow yourself to see it as a healthy guide to return to.
Staying home and social distancing can create a sense of loneliness and isolation. Maintaining social connections has helped our scholars feel more centred. Make time to connect with family and friends. Zoom trivia, Netflix parties and social gaming are our scholars' creative suggestions to shake up a routine video call.
Don't force yourself to be productive every day. Our scholars recognise that they are living through unprecedented times and sometimes doing less is what is best for your mental health. Accept that life is different now and you can't expect yourself to be as productive as you were. Ensure you take time to rest and focus on the things that are important to you.