By Allison Arnzen
September 17, 2020
Suggestions to help recenter and focus, easing the stressors of COVID-19 and the online transition to the new semester.
Throughout 2020, a global pandemic has created unprecedented times in the lives of individuals throughout the world. To help ease the impact of COVID-19, finding activities to create calm and bring individuals in tune with themselves may help contribute to comforting these feelings of worry.
Beyond the impact of Covid-19, students face additional challenges in navigating an online semester. This includes adapting to the online environment, which has led to a new shift from the face-to-face college campus setting. Learning the online format and curriculum from home, managing classes, and balancing a personal, work, and/or student life are among new challenges students are now facing.
One way to help calm anxiety and peace for students includes setting boundaries. For many, asserting a scheduled time and location to dedicate towards online schooling and studying helps differentiate the home versus work environment. By creating these boundaries, students may find better focus their time spent on assignments. Alongside this, internal stressors may be alleviated as we become in tune with feelings and expectations through the use of a routine to navigate the current predicaments.
Ilene S. Cohen, PhD in her article in Psychology Today called “Setting Boundaries During Coronavirus” offers advice for people-pleasers during these times. Cohen encourages individuals to bring awareness to personal boundaries, communicate them clearly, and remember that it is okay if others aren’t happy with your boundaries as you make yourself and your health a priority.
Another way to decrease the worry during Covid-19 is to keep moving. Keeping active is a way to ensure the mental and physical benefits and show a decrease in “levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.” While exercising releases endorphins, it is a tool in providing a break while finding time to spend time focusing on one’s self. Finding the right choice for you will lead to individualized benefits. Taking a walk throughout the neighborhood or through a nature trail gives a change of scenery and gets your blood flowing. Play and interact with any pets you may have. In the article “Physical Activity Reduces Stress”, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America found that, “…if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers…”.
The third way that students can help create peace is through the use of internet workouts. As an option, online workout videos have become a great way to keep in shape during Covid-19. Whether it be through a fitness routine, or a guided yoga practice, various applications such as SWEAT, Peloton, Sworkit Fitness & Workout, Glo – Yoga and Meditation are among many choices and may be downloaded on electronic devices. Another option is to stream these regimens directly from YouTube.
The fourth way find peace during Covid-19 is by keeping a schedule. By creating a routine and organization, a sense of center, control, focus, and ownership can be found in a time of crisis. By creating a schedule to follow, this helps set expectations for the day. While social distancing and stay at home orders adapt or are encouraged, keeping track of time and items to be complete ensure a sense of completion and feeling of accomplishment. Some things you can do to help are to make a list, create a planner, find the routine which best suits you personally. Following your flow to find a rhythm helps with focus, may ease feelings of being overwhelmed, and being intentional with your time to provide a sense of normalcy in unprecedented times. Productivity expert, Tonya Dalton, says “rituals keep our day moving along but are infused with joy, pleasure, or a positive emotion.”
Another helpful tip is to stay connected. In a digital world, connection is provided right at your fingertips. Reaching out to friends through text, call, or group video calls, such as Zoom, Google Hangout, or Skype, provides a sense of community and connection in a world where face to face contact is limited. Because we must remain over 6 feet apart in social settings, socializing with others virtually can help alleviate feelings of isolation and disconnect.
Another great tip to help keep calm is to try a new activity. In any spare time, a feeling of completion may be achieved through re-engaging in hobbies from the past or learning a new one. Creative outlets allow for self-expression. Journaling may help document and project thoughts. Finding a craft skill such as sewing, or crocheting is an option in creating to mix things up. Other forms of activities can include painting, drawing, sculpting, and creating music. Connect Health AU found pursuing a new hobby may benefit one’s mental health with reduction in stress, boosting wellbeing, forming connection with others. The website states “spending time on activities that you enjoy can help improve your mental health and wellbeing. Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from low moods, stress and depression.”
And finally, be sure to check in on yourself. Recognizing the extent of the current climate is important in understanding any troubles currently being faced are difficult while pursuing an education. In addition to this, all other aspects of life inevitably continue in ways beyond a typical standard or norm. Sarah Reichart, a behavioral health therapist of Mayo Clinic Health System states, “It’s important to pause for a moment and collect your thoughts, as worldwide pandemics can be taxing.” Recognizing potential mental and physical responses, Reichart says “It is normal to feel stressed or overwhelmed during uncertain times.”.
These times may impose newfound challenges; however, they will be navigated with strength and perseverance. Be kind to your mind. Check in with yourself. Take a deep breath.
Mental Health Counseling Services are available through our MSJC Student Health Centers. The Student Health Patient Portal allows for communication with staff, appointments, and other mental health resources.