Supporting Each Other
As the world continues to adjust to post-pandemic life, we may need some time to connect with campus life at the start of each semester.
After a period of time with family and friends, it’s normal to feel nervous or apprehensive when arriving back on campus after the holidays. COVID-19 has left many people fearing illness and feeling more anxious after periods spent travelling or socialising with large groups of people. Although these feelings are normal, they can result in behaviours that negatively impact wellbeing. For example, we might avoid connecting with others, make unfair judgements about people or treat them differently based on preconceived ideas.
How we treat each other whilst we re-adjust to campus life is so important as it helps us grow a supportive community where wellbeing really matters. Find some common worries related to adjusting to campus life below and tips on how to handle them. We've also included some situations that have arisen throughout COVID with ideas on how to face them with compassion and kindness.
Tips on how to…
Everything is new and I’m freaking out
It’s OK to feel nervous or scared if you are arriving in Adelaide for the first time. It’s a big deal and lots of our student community know exactly what it feels like. It is also a time for excitement, a time to build connections and discover who you are in this new environment. There are lots of creative and enjoyable ways to connect if you take the first step. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Deal with the ‘freak out’ by taking care of your body. Rapid breathing and excessive planning are things our mind and body do to try and help us find safety but in new situations, they contribute to ‘freaking out’. Slow your breathing, count to 3 and push your feet into the ground. These techniques are really effective in bringing us back into the ‘now’. To practice them, have a look at The Breath and Useful Techniques.
- Check out the Student Blog on the Wellbeing Hub or Study Adelaide to hear from students on campus. Hearing from others can really help put our minds at ease.
- Connect with Talk Campus, a peer to peer app that links you to a worldwide network of students.
- Finally, check out the YouX Student Clubs. Knowing what’s here might help you find people with similar interests and start to make everything feel more familiar.
I don’t know anyone
It takes a little time and effort to build connections that help you feel settled. Therefore, the best time to start is now. We have a vibrant student club scene, heaps of opportunities to volunteer / AUU volunteer and and a popular student blog to give you an insight into student life here in campus.
Get busy on socials and connect with 1 campus activity or club activities every day or week until you find your crew. It is often from these connections that we build friendships for life. There is a club for everyone.
You can also connect with Talk Campus, a peer to peer app that links you to a worldwide network of students.
I’m homesick already
If you have just arrived on campus and are feeling homesick, don’t worry, it’s totally normal. You might have just spent a long time interstate or internationally with family and community so moving away from that is a big deal. Understand what makes you feel connected to them. You might get a lot out of small gestures like a message during the day or you may want to connect over a game or a meal.
Some ideas to get started:
- When connecting with family, leave the camera on after you have chatted and do the things you normally would at home. This creates a sense that you’re spending your time with them despite not being in the same room.
- Take the time to celebrate any birthdays, achievements or good news! If you’re apart from your loved ones, schedule a date to get dressed up and have a drink together online. If you’re living together, organise a party or special dinner in your own home.
- Take the time to express your appreciation. If a loved one does something nice for you, give your thanks and make sure to highlight the quality in them demonstrated by their behaviour e.g. “Thank you for sending me that text, it was so thoughtful of you.”
- Plan a night where you use a streaming service to watch a movie or a TV show together.
- While there are so many perks to the technology around us, some of you may feel that your technology use is more harmful than helpful. If you are concerned about your use, head to our digital addiction page.
You might also want to check out the relationships section for more top tips on making friends and connecting with family.
I feel happy/sad. Am I OK?
When we face any major change like starting uni after the holidays, moving country or coming back to campus, after the adrenaline passes it’s really normal to have mixed feelings. Recently, the term ‘languishing’ has been used to describe this feeling, something you might refer to as “meh” or in other words, the struggle to get motivated. We can feel happy one minute then sad and demotivated the next.
To help move through the slump, start with a small and easy routine. Focus on small activities that you’ve enjoyed in the past. You might get creative, pick up an instrument or ring a friend and make plans. Even getting a nice coffee, going to the botanic gardens or spending time in lovely spaces like the art gallery is useful. You only need to spend a short time in these spaces to feel a benefit to mood plus you leave with a nice experience to reflect on later in the day.
Getting into a routine with sleep, eating well and spending time outdoors is also a great place to focus your energy. Take a look at our Body Health section for some great tips
I’m worried about going to campus
If we feel anxious in social situations, the thought of face to face classes, working in groups or attending tutorials might not fill you with excitement. Fear is often largely related to the unknown rather than the situation itself so we can start to do small things that help build familiarity like:
- Walk to campus to get used to the journey
- Spend short periods of time in the library or at a campus coffee shop
- Do fun things when you come to campus like listening to music on the Barr Smith lawns or sitting under the trees outside the beautiful Bonython Hall
- Be patient and kind with yourself – it doesn’t take long but it does take a little bit of time to make the campus feel like home
Fear of stigma, racism or discrimination may also be on some of our minds. The University has zero tolerance for racist or discriminatory behaviour and all students are encouraged to report concerns through the Safer Campus Community website. If you see or hear someone behaving like this, be a positive bystander and call out unacceptable conduct wherever you can. If you feel you can’t in the moment, you can still make a report and help build a respectful and inclusive community.
Handle tricky convos on topics like vaccintation
Stigma around COVID and vaccinations still exists. As hard as it can be, try to remain curious in this situation as this can help us step back from unhelpful judgements. There may be very valid reasons why someone is unable to have a vaccination. Many medical conditions are invisible and we don’t have a right to question someone about their situation. We do however have the right to make our own decisions including whether we get vaccinated, follow health advice around hand-washing and mask wearing or abide by check-in requirements.
The key to any tricky conversation is respect and perspective. Can we see the situation from the other person’s point of view? We don’t have to agree with them but we can show respect and try to listen. If the relationship you have with the person means you can get into a deeper conversation, have a look at this great resource from the Red Cross.
Call out stigma
Social stigma means being treated differently, judged or discriminated against because of a perceived connection to an illness, most recently, COVID-19. People may say things or behave in ways that convey blame or shame. Stigma can stop people asking for the help they need, lead to poorer mental health and in lots of ways, slow recovery. It can also push people to hide symptoms to avoid discrimination. We may fear losing wages, being ignored by friends or ostracised by our community. These are situations none of us want to face.
How can we deal with it?
- Language counts – There are millions of words in our languages and their subtle differences can either drive or challenge stigma. Try to talk about someone who “has” an illness, is “getting treatment” or has “contracted” an illness. This helps build empathy and care for people. Don’t say “victim” or someone “spreading illness”. Using words that assign blame or dehumanise people increases fear and drives stigma.
- Share facts – There is lots of misinformation around about many illnesses so avoid perpetuating it. That means fact checking info, calling people out on misconceptions, and focusing on the evidence based information we have at our disposal. In South Australia, SA Health should be your first stop.
- Take control – when we focus on the unknown, we can often feel paralysed with fear. When we focus on the fear, it doesn’t go away but in fact is more likely to stick around for longer periods leaving our bodies and immune systems stressed. Instead, taking control of the things we can do to reduce our risk of contracting any illness helps propel us into fear reducing actions. For an illness like COVID-19, things like washing hands, wearing masks and getting vaccinated are evidence based strategies. For some further info, check out Reach Out.
The World Health Organisation have a full guide to dealing with COVID stigma.
Support a friend who contracts COVID
If you, a friend or someone you know contracts COVID and is staying home, we can be of huge support to them, particularly if they don't have family around.
- Get in touch – ring them or message them. Find out how they are. Being at home and feeling unwell can make people feel lonely or stressed. Hearing a friendly voice can really help.
- Ask how you can help – It might be buying groceries and leaving them on the doorstep, or connecting virtually to exercise, chat or play games together. We often worry about being a burden to others so if your friend doesn’t know how to ask for help, make a suggestion. “Can I bring you some (food, books, magazines)?” Being specific might help take the worry out of asking.
- Chat about more than COVID – our friend or family member has more to talk about than being sick. Focusing on being unwell narrows our perception leaving us feeling anxious or scared. It’s great to think big and broaden our conversations to other topics like movies, books, music or any other interests you share. It’s also important to take the time to listen. If they are feeling down, let them know it’s OK and you are there to support them whatever they’re feeling.
- Help them make a routine – it might include a regular catch up by video or phone, exercising together online or encouraging them to make time for reading, crafts or games if they feel well enough.
- Check the essentials – if people have medication they need to collect but can’t, this might be something you can do for them. Pets might also need walking. Checking restrictions and how to do this COVID safely is worth checking first.
For more info, check out
Reduce the “freak out” factor
Whether you contract COVID or not, worrying about the possibility doesn’t help. What can be helpful is thinking concretely about how we would cope in this situation and what actions we would take. If this is challenging then consider talking to friends, family or a professional. Changing “what if I get sick” into “then what actions can I take” can be a powerful way of reducing anxiety even for difficult situations.
For more info, check out these resources:
If you want to reach out for support, here are some services that can help
- Beyond Blue - phone and web chat services alongside some great online forums around this topic
- Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14
- Mensline Australia – 1300 78 99 78
- Reach out
- Mindspot – telephone line 1800 61 44 34