Studying during COVID-19: Reflections and advice from our students. Blog 2, by Neusha Golshan (MSc Clinical Psychology)

Studying during COVID-19: Reflections and advice from our students. Blog 2, by Neusha Golshan (MSc Clinical Psychology)

Studying During COVID-19

When I started at Royal Holloway in September 2019, I never envisioned the year ending up as it has. I don’t think anyone could have! The thought of life turning upside down seemed impossible, but here we are months later, slowly returning back to normality.

Lockdown has been a huge adjustment for a lot of university students, having to work from home in all sorts of conditions and circumstances. I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say I will never take normal day-to-day university life for granted, such as working in the library or grabbing a coffee with friends.

Like many, I have been completing my degree through the lockdown, and I’ve put together some techniques and app recommendations which have helped me during this time.


Mindfulness can be defined as ‘paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally’ (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). Practising mindfulness has been found to demonstrate positive psychological effects, such as improved behavioural regulation and reduced psychological symptoms (Keng et al., 2011).

I would definitely recommend the Headspace app to anyone, with endless tools and resources available for mindfulness-based meditation. I have found that setting aside ten minutes at a regular time each day has really worked for me.

The Headspace app

  • Lots of focused meditation options (e.g. sleep, anxiety, stress)
  • Guided or un-guided meditation
  • Great for beginners – you can start with a basics pack of guided meditation (free!)
  • Students with a Spotify premium get a free membership!






At the start of lockdown, I tried to continue living in the same fast-paced routine I previously had. I would set my alarm early and try to force productivity for the entire day. This actually proved to be counter-productive, so I decided to change this for my own sake!

I then started to make a small bullet-point list of things I wanted to accomplish each day – if I didn’t end up ticking everything off, I would just transfer it to the following day. On each list, I divided university work into manageable chunks, such as one or two paragraphs at a time. This allowed me to feel less overwhelmed about my workload.

I also made sure to schedule in time for self-care, whether that was an evening to watch Netflix, or some time to go for a walk. Taking time out to re-charge is so important.


Meeting various university deadlines during lockdown proved to be very sedentary work, which left me struggling to find focus. I decided to challenge myself with the Couch to 5K challenge, which aims to get beginners into running. I would recommend this to anyone to try!

Regular exercise has been associated with significant improvements in psychological well-being (Edwards, 2006). From running regularly, I experienced great mental benefits such as an increased focus and boosted confidence. Having never been a sporty person, running became a huge part of my lockdown experience.

The One You Couch to 5K app

  • Gradually work up towards running 5K in nine weeks
  • Three runs per week
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Great stress-reliever
  • Free to download






References and Resources

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York: Hyperion

Keng, S-L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 1041-1056.