Lessons from Lockdown

Locked gates. Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

England is about to enter Lockdown Take 2, and we know that particularly for our students who are living away from home for the first time that this probably feels very daunting. We are lucky that we have a lovely leafy green campus where you can, at least, enjoy your daily exercise, but you might be feeling stressed and lonely. Or maybe you are living off campus, with friends or at home with family. Perhaps some of them are doing frontline work, or perhaps some of them have pre-existing health conditions that put them at risk. There’s lots of reasons to feel stressed. We want to help you feel as prepared as possible for the next four weeks. At Northampton we strongly see ourselves as a community. We aren’t just here to teach you; we’re all here to learn from and support each other.

Leafy University of Northampton campus by Rob O’Malley

First of all, if you’re worried about your learning during lockdown, remember you can reach out to us any time. Our colleague in English Dr Claire Allen has also recorded a great podcast on lockdown learning.

Meanwhile, it’s also important to take care of your mental and physical health. Dr Mark Rothery suggests:

  1. Get plenty of exercise – we are permitted to go out for this under the rules and we can meet one other person so you could do this in pairs. Even if its bad weather its best to get outside as often as possible – that’s our plan here.
  2. Eat good food and get into cooking healthy but tasty food – check out our lockdown recipes! We have got a collection of recipes on a budget here.

It’s definitely a good idea to get out and get some exercise if you can. Even just walking around the leafy campus or local Beckett’s Park is an opportunity to have some fresh air and clear your head. Along those lines, our English colleague Dr Sonya Andermahr suggests “trying some gentle meditative exercise that you can do indoors like yoga or Tai Chi. Music – either listening or playing – is always a good way of getting away from the computer too!” I agree with Sonya – I got really into yoga in lockdown #1 and have found it really helpful in keeping fit and also encouraging mindfulness.

You might prefer to try escapism rather than mindfulness. There’s always Netflix, or how about picking up a good novel? Claire says:

“I’m reading Patti Smith’s Year of the Monkey. Smith charts a year in her life in relation to the signs of the Chinese zodiac. She notes: “Anything is possible: after all, it’s the year of the monkey.” It’s the year she turns 70 and faces lots of personal challenges, including the death of close friends. She unexpectedly finds herself spending lots of time on her own, but with an imaginary cast of characters to get her through some difficult times. Her seamless shifting between real, imaginary, waking, and dream world, in which time ceases to mean in the usual way has been the perfect companion for me during lockdown. Smith beautiful melds fiction with reality, whilst privileging the power of the imagination, encouraging us to see through the difficult challenges we face and imagine the world anew, truly channelling the beat generation ethos, as well as the Romantics, which inspires so much of her work. I, like her, am currently dreaming of a better future to come.” 

I’m definitely trying to read more fiction this year and I even started a Zoom book club. I’d be happy for students and staff to join – just drop me an email. We meet monthly and discuss a book for a couple of hours; it’s relaxing and fun. You could try setting up your own informal club with a few friends. Try it with library books if budget is an issue!

Many of you may also be facing the issue that you don’t have as much space or privacy as you would like, whether you’re at home or in halls. Think about buying some cheap ear plugs or some noise-cancelling earphones if you can stretch to it. That may help if you’re feeling surrounded by people all the time!

The next month is going to be challenging. But on the other hand we’ve done a long lockdown already and learned how to get through it and what to avoid. Take care of yourselves and each other – and reach out to your friendly History and English teams if you need support. We’re here for you through all this.

Let’s hope for sunny November days… Photo by Rob O’Malley

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