Finding Balance – In Times of Pandemic

Are you feeling tired, lacking motivation to study, or are you perhaps more anxious and stressed than usual? Then remind yourself that it’s ok. We have been living within a pandemic for over a year now. So, it’s ok to struggle, it’s ok to be overwhelmed, and it’s ok if you are not yourself right now. Because human nature isn’t accustomed to refrain from social contacts, to work and live in the same room, and to sit in front of a screen 24/7. Still, there is much more power that we have over our own well-being than you would think. And I hope this article can show you how.

Be it an entire weekend off, or going for a run every second day. You do you! 

Balance defines “a state where things are of equal weight or force”. Which essentially means that however much we work, study, or spend time on a computer, we equally must take time off electronics and make time for leisure activities. We can’t of course look at this quantitatively, literally taking one week off after having worked for a week. But rather qualitatively, spending as much time off so that we are able to regain our energy. And I hope this highlights that there is no specific number of hours that people should spend on leisure activities, but it really depends on your individual resources. Be it an entire weekend off, or going for a run every second day. You do you! 

But it may help you to visualise a scale which represents your own personal well-being. On its left are all the activities that take your energy, while on its right are all the activities that give you energy. Which means that “studying” may be on the left side, while “spending time with friends” may be on the right side. Self-care, therefore, means that we must ensure that our personal well-being scale is in balance. 


How Do You Wind Down?

Before Corona, I liked to watch Netflix after a long day at the library. As an ambivert, I need to give myself a moment within a day in which I just do something by myself. Otherwise, I get very over-stimulated. To help you visualise this, when “Many people around me” crosses a certain threshold, it becomes energy-taking and therefore shifts to the left of my scale. And to balance this out, I am in need of “time alone” which is thus placed on the right side of my scale. 

What did you normally do after the library? Remember, it might be very different because your own personal well-being scale is unique to your own resources.

Did You Adapt Your Routine?

I am sure that the pandemic has in some way or the other changed your normal routine. I, therefore, believe that it has affected the left side of our well-being scales: The energy taking activities. Now, visualise your own scale: Have you adjusted the right side of your scale to balance the new routine?

Honestly, I hadn’t. And even though it is a bit of a pathetic example, I want to share this with you. Perhaps it will help you understand my point. 

This made me realise that the pandemic had required a lot from me such as social distancing, online learning, lockdowns etc. But on the other hand, I had not adopted my own routine one bit to balance the energy that this way of living took out of me. 

As I have told you before, I liked to watch Netflix to wind down after studying. And so, even though I sometimes sat through zooms from 9AM until 9PM (not kidding), I still watched Netflix. And I continued to, even when I started getting headaches from my screen time. Still, I almost forced myself to watch some sort of episode. This is because I had connected watching Netflix with relaxation. And I did not want to take that away from me regardless of the fact that my well-being scale was clearly out of balance. This made me realise that the pandemic had required a lot from me such as social distancing, online learning, lockdowns etc. But on the other hand, I had not adopted my own routine one bit to balance the energy that this way of living took out of me. 

What Now? 

I started to adjust my scale to the pandemic and began listening to what currently gives me energy. And to perhaps give you an idea of what you can do, here are some of the things that have helped me get my health back on track: 

  1. Start your day slow:
  • If you are more tired and exhausted than you usually are then take it slow.
  • Above all, I now turn on a 10min track of mindful music while simply waking up (Can recommend the free Insight Timer app).
  1. Get ready:
  • Simply changing between comfortable outfits will make you feel fresher.
  • And, it also gives you some structure if this is something you struggle with.
  1. Go for a walk:
  • We have much less of a chance to soak in some fresh air and sunlight.
  • Drink your coffee while on the walk to make it a new routine.
  • Take a friend if you don’t like to do this by yourself.
  1. Set a (study/work) goal:
  • So, you don’t lose sight of the things you have to do.
  • An agenda helps tremendously.
  1. Add something you look forward to EVERY day:
  • Can be reading a book, meeting a friend, buying flowers, playing PS5 or even just ordering food!
  • Simply put: Treat yourself!
  1. Time off the screen:
  • A book, drawing, time with friends, A bike ride, cooking, etc.
  • It may be hard, but your body (especially your eyes) will thank you later!
  1. Stay active:
  • Calming activities such as Yoga or Pilates.
  • Energetic ones such as HIIT or boxing.
  • Social sports such as playing basketball or soccer with friends (or strangers).
  • Even stretching in the morning or evening works wonders.
  • Remember: Work hard, play hard!
  1. Socialise:
  • Make plans with friends ahead of a week
  • Or go for a walk with another student at the UvA by signing up for UvA Walks
  1. End your day mindfully:
  • Listen to some music, a podcast, etc.
  • And don’t forget: To write down what you were grateful for that day!

I hope that some of these ideas will help you find your way back to your balance and give you a boost to pull through. Want to be even more inspired by what you can do, then have a look at these amazing suggestions by the University of Amsterdam itself. Also, I want you to know that you are not alone and that it is ok to ask for help. If you cannot deal with the situation anymore, then reach out to a study advisor or the UvA psychologists

Take care (of yourself)!



Cover: Sincerely Media

Edited by: Pritha Ray

Marie Gaebel
Hi, I am Marie a second year communication science student. Besides simply loving to write, I hope to be able to support other students by sharing knowledge and experiences that I have come across while studying and finding my carerer path. :)

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