Lockdown: A scientific perspective

Lockdown: A scientific perspective

Damien O'Brien
Damien O'Brien
Lockdown: A scientific perspective

In these unprecedented times, we in the science faculty hope you and your families are all well.

Being at home in the same place with the same people day in and day out can certainly take its toll on us mentally, if we aren’t vigilant.

What has become more apparent to me at this time is the need for routine.

Our bodily functions are, to some extent, controlled by hormones. These are chemical messengers that allow communication between organs and assist healthy bodily functioning.The balance of these hormones is important in regulating our natural bodily cycles such as feeling alert, tired, hungry, happy, for example. This balance is known as our circadian rhythm (Latin circa- about / around, dia from dies – day).

When our circadian rhythm is not in balance, we may feel sluggish, drained and overly emotional. We may also struggle sleeping or waking up.

At this point, I hope you are still with me.

To keep our circadian rhythms in good balance, routines become important. Such routines have been at the forefront of many conversations between parents and colleagues.

Some of you have been sticking to your school timetable, and it has been working for you. However, it may not work for all. An alternative for some may be to spend a morning or afternoon on each subject, with timed sessions with breaks in between. As well as this, routines of waking and sleeping time, use of electronic devices could / should all be controlled as if we were in term time. Whatever the specifics, a routine helps. Try to agree one between you. When there is buy-in or ownership, if a student can come up with the plan him or herself, there is a greater probability of ‘stickability’.

Fitting in small rewards may also be appropriate, if you stick to your routine. Be sure to include at least one full day off work. Everyone needs a break!

Setting an alarm and getting up by a particular time each day assists this. Even, dare I suggest, at weekends?

There will be down days and up days. If you plan during your up days for the down days, when you need more support, it may make matters easier.

Find something to expend your energy, such as a daily run, some press ups or sit ups. Try to push yourself to maintain your fitness or develop it, if you have greater time and flexibility now.

We are all stuck right now. Try to be acceptant and tolerant of all those around you. We don’t know each other’s individual circumstances, but we are all restricted in many of the same ways. Be understanding, polite, and remain calm with each other, and say thank you to those who move out of the way to help maintain the 2m social distance.

We will get through this together.

For further advice for students and parents, please see below for the Royal Society of Biology’s advice. This webpage includes many useful links to activities:


There are couple of other links that may be of interest to you. The RSB’s periodical ‘The Biologist’ has published a series of short interviews covering COVID-19 Q&As:


And finally, their COVID-19 bulletin:


Stay safe!

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