Managing Self-Isolation and Social Distancing

This list of resources and guidance has been created with input from welfare staff across the colleges and the wider University. Please remember that your college welfare team are still available to provide support and guidance during this time, even if you are not currently residing in Oxford.

Key college welfare contacts

  • Senior Tutor and Tutor for Graduates Dr Alison Stenton – also the College’s Equality & Diversity lead.
  • Academic Registrar Alison Franklin – welfare lead and disability co-ordinator in the College office team.
  • The Dean – responsible for welfare in the student body, ensuring that the college’s policies on welfare are being observed and reacting to individual cases as these arise.
  • The Junior Deans –   act as key liaison figures between the college and students.

Full college welfare information can be found on the Health and Welfare pages.

Sources of information

The following websites offer details and updates around the rapidly changing public health situation in the UK and abroad:

Mental health support

The following websites provide a range of online resources and advice for managing your mental health during this challenging time:

Mental health apps and exercise

  • Headspace – Headspace offers guided meditation to all users. They have created a special FREE guide called Weathering The Storm. ‘It includes meditations, sleep, and movement exercises to help you out, however you’re feeling.’
  • Calm – free resources as a ‘curation of content hand-picked to support your mental and emotional wellness through this time.’
  • Elefriends – ‘Elefriends is a supportive online community where you can be yourself. We all know what it’s like to struggle sometimes, but now there’s a safe place to listen, share and be heard.’
  • There is great number of free exercise and yoga instruction videos available for free on YouTube. Simply type in key words for what you’re after as there’s hundreds available. You can also check out the GCR Website to see what they’re all watching and working out to!
  • The GCR will be running regular livestream yoga and Zumba classes. Check out the Facebook page or the GCR website to see when they will be on and how to connect!

Managing your time

Whether balancing working from home with other responsibilities, or simply finding ways to fill the days and evenings, managing your time will take some adjustment. Watching TV or listening the the radio and podcasts are an obvious choice, but maintaining routines can help prevent losing structure to your life and help to separate life and work. Here are some things that may help:

  • Visit the GCR Website to find out what virtual events they are planning!
  • Use time-management apps
  • Stay in close contact with friends, especially who are also in self-isolation through have regular video or audio calls with your friends and family and maybe try “virtual study/hang out sessions”.
  • Keep in touch with fellow students, colleagues etc via things like Skype, Zoom and Teams.
  • Create and keep to a schedule for yourself, your household and/or your family to keep a sense of routine and normality.
  • Plan to try a new recipe with a friend or family member and then eat together over Skype to see how you both did!


Listening to podcasts can provide a welcome sense of social inclusion, distraction and imagination with everything from audiobooks, to music, to ‘ramble chats’. Check out podcasts on the University podcast site and the BBC, visit the GCR Website to see what they are listening to, or peruse the recommended podcasts from various platforms to get you started: Huffington Post, The Guardian, Esquire, for children, New York magazine, True crime, New York Times.

Live cameras and ambient audio

If you are missing the sense of community and people, live cameras of public places and playlists of ambient sounds such as coffee shops and parks can be soothing. Here are a few links:

College and University support

The Student Welfare and Support Services are currently transitioning the Counselling Service and mental health Mentoring to online appointments. They offer reduced provision in the vacation and have lost some staff to illness, self-isolation, caring responsibilities etc. which means that waiting times will be longer, but students should continue to refer themselves.

Oxford University Coffee Ambassadors – 1:1 meetups (in café or online) with a trained peer supporter, many of whom are DPhil students.

College peer supporters are available to talk with you informally about anything that is concerning you.

Supporting the community

Covid Mutual Aid UK is a group of volunteers supporting local community groups organising mutual aid throughout the covid-19 outbreak in the UK. Focusing on providing resources and connecting people to their nearest local groups, willing volunteers and those in need.

If you are still in Oxford, Oxford Together run by the Oxford Hub is working on building a community response to Covid-19. Become a community champion and help others across the city by checking in on those who are at high-risk on your street or making phone calls to check in on those who are self-isolating. Sign up and support your local community if you can.

StudentsAgainstCorona is a nationwide student movement that provides a platform to connect volunteers with those who need help. Whether it’s buying a carton of milk or walking the dog, there are simple tasks that people in isolation or at high-risk cannot perform on their own. If you are healthy, and at low risk, consider signing up to help others.

Activities and distractions

  • Free audiobooks are available on the BBC and elsewhere online.
  • Check online to see if your local library has an app that allows you to borrow eBooks, audiobooks or magazines from home for free.
  • Take a Virtual Tour around one of these museums.
  • Enjoy free streams from world-class opera houses that are being shared in response to the outbreak – have a look at the Metropolitan Opera and Paris Opera websites.
  • Get outside locally once a day – go for a walk or take the opportunity to try out running with the NHS Couch to 5k app.
  • Try out some free online yoga.
  • Learn how to make a home gym from household items while self-isolating.
  • Read 100 useful things you can do to kill boredom if you’re quarantined at home because of coronavirus.
  • Make necessary journeys such as groceries or your once-a-day exercise by foot or by bike – As outlined in this Bike blog, cycling for those able to can provide important exercise while maintaining isolation.
  • Outdoor Spaces — If open and low in other visitors, consider local green spaces where you can access fresh air once a day while maintaining a safe social distance. Providing visitor numbers remain low, the University Parks in Oxford provide a large open space where visitors can still go for a walk or run once a day to help boost their wellbeing.
  • Online Courses — Learning new things can help support wellbeing and good mental health. The Open University have a variety of free online courses, with OpenLearn, the Open University’s free-to-use learning platform, having 15,000 hours of online courses.

Media and social media

  • Follow a ‘Good News’ source to ensure you get happy notifications of the good in the world during this time. Try the Good News Network, Positive News, BBC Uplifting Stories, or MSN Good News.
  • Instagram accounts to help with working from home and mental health: The Financial Diet, Millenial.Therapist, i_weigh, giveusashoutinsta or Shout UK, KelseyMech, and Myselflovesupply.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks. You can turn off Notifications for News Alerts or you can change them to only Breaking News alerts.
  • The charity Mind has guidance on online mental health.

Advice for parents, carers, and people that work with children and young people

The University of Oxford Psychiatry Department in collaboration with other professional services has put together a document of advice for parents, carers and people that work with children and young people. The document has sections on keeping healthy habits with your family, avoiding vicious cycles, responding to children and young people, and an abundance of other resources. These resources include ones for children and young people with specific needs, for teachers, managing children’s anxiety, and resources of how to cope with self-isolating children.

Created: 19 March 2020