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What is «Vær god mot deg selv»?

It’s a website with lots of research based tips and advice intended to give you a slightly better every day life during the pandemic.

In Autumn 2020, the University of Bergen initiated the project to help students and young people get through a challenging period. Covid-19 has affected our everyday life. We socialize less. We are not getting to know new people, we are homesick or bothered with «corona shame,» and struggle with feelings of missing out on the best of student life. This may have both physical and psychological consequences, and some even give up on their studies. The benefit of being a big university is that it encompasses enormous amounts of knowledge on how to master everyday life in all its facets. That’s why all the tips and advice are rooted in research and science originating from UiB itself.

Do you have any good tips on how to improve every day life during the pandemic?

Book therapy

Constructive escapism

Books offer pure escapism


Exams are looming and you have more than enough reading to get through. Finding something else to read is probably not what you feel like doing right now. But there are many good reasons to consider diving into some fiction as well. Especially if you are feeling sick and tired of the isolation and social limitations caused by the corona pandemic.

“You can use fiction proactively in situations like the one we are in now, where you either may need to do something else or not to think about the fact that the world outside is a dreary place, with restrictions that you wish you could be released from,” says Eirik Vassenden, Professor of Scandinavian Literature at the Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies.

That’s because reading literature is a stimulating form of relaxation.

“Since books can bring you out of the situation and context you are in, they can be used as pure escapism. Literature can transport you to more interesting places. But, unlike lounging in front of Netflix or browsing social media, you receive something more from it. You are not just whiling away the hours,” says Vassenden.

A mental break

First and foremost, the difference lies in the fact that your imagination is at work when you conjure up scenes, images and characters from the book ́s text.

“You concentrate differently from when watching Netflix, and you perhaps concentrate more creatively than when studying,” says Vassenden.

He points out that reading a book may also elicit a sense of achievement.

“You enjoy the experience of your mind working with you instead of against you. The feeling that your brainpower is being used for something that stimulates interest and insight, without it being linked to any achievement or specific goal,” says Vassenden.

Fewer distractions on paper

According to Vassenden, research has also shown that there are qualitative differences between reading in print and reading on screen.

Research has not yet identified all the correlations between these differences, but there are strong indications of a connection between media format and how easily you immerse yourself in the material in front of you – and not least what you receive from what you are reading. A computer provides more potential distractions than a book.

Why not put away your laptop and mobile for a couple of hours and pick up a book instead? It gives you a break from everything and everyone who comes knocking and threatens to disturb your concentration.


Eirik Vassenden

Professor of Scandinavian Literature


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