By Samantha Pacheco Molina
School is hard enough as it is. But combine remote lectures, stay at home orders, and a global pandemic and it can be hard to feel anything other than stress.
Self-care in the age of COVID-19 is critical for a student’s mental and physical health. The consequences of this pandemic mean students are struggling with many changes. You may have lost your job; your classes might have moved completely remote or canceled altogether. But more than anything, there are probably serious concerns about the health of yourself and your loved ones.
Reduce anxiety and stress in your life with these useful tips and tricks, while stuck in quarantine and when returning to campus.
GET THE BLOOD PUMPING
While it may be difficult to remain physically active while social distancing, it is possible and important. Exercising can boost your mood, help you function better, and aid in restful sleep. Walk around the neighborhood or do some laps in your backyard pool. Active movement releases built-up energy and tension.
Live workout videos have been incredibly popular recently. Everyone, from local fitness trainers to celebs like Sofia Richie and Dwayne Johnson, is sharing their routines and tips online.
MASTER THE DOWNWARD DOG
Feeling stiff from sitting at your “work from the home” desk? A 15-minute yoga session can work out all of your kinks and knots. Because the activity combines fluid movements with breathing control and meditation, it teaches how to focus on the present, instead of worrying about the future. Many colleges students turn to yoga to help establish better concentration, improve posture, and reduce stress.
TAKE 10 TO BE ZEN
What’s great about this activity is that there isn’t any special equipment or space needed. You can do it anytime, anywhere. Simply put, meditation describes various exercises for the brain. They are meant to make us think deeply and focus on our individuality. These acts regulate negative thoughts and help reduce stress, symptoms of depression, and anxiety. There is no shortage of meditation and relaxation apps to explore when you feel you need time for reflection.
REGULATE A SLEEP SCHEDULE
Let’s face it, college students are known for pulling all-nighters and running on two hours of sleep. Getting in those seven to nine hours of good-quality sleep keeps your body running at its best to fight off viruses.
According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep is also one of the top ways we can help keep stress in check, as sleep deprivation can make us more sensitive to the effects of anxiety. The brain also needs sleep to function and without it, you’ll be less patient and focused, not to mention more moody and irritable.
DECLUTTER YOUR LIVING AND WORK ENVIRONMENTS
Can tidying up really change your mood? The Mayo Clinic says when people describe their spaces as “disorganized,” they’re more likely to have higher levels of cortisol, the hormone related to the stress response.
A cluttered space can make you feel more distracted and may even affect your sleep. Before you summon you’re inner Marie Kondo, know that you don’t have to go all out. Take a few minutes a day clear the messiest part of your home and have enough time to finally tackle that overdue essay.
KNOW WHEN IT IS TIME TO UNPLUG
The constant notifications of news and social media posts have us all feeling saturated by coronavirus updates right now. While it is important to stay informed, rereading the same headlines can be consuming. Instead of constantly refreshing your social media feeds or staying glued to the television, find a few trusted news sources you can check in with two to three times a day.
BINGE-WATCH YOUR FAVORITE SERIES
A little break in the routine can be a beneficial reward when you are working hard. Popular streaming services offer a vast library of movies and original series to take your mind off of the workload or problems in the real world. Comedies and feel-good shows evoke a healthy laugh and positive emotions during these unprecedented times.
PRESS PLAY ON CHART-TOPPING HITS AND THROWBACK TRACKS
Power off the TV and jam out to some mood-boosting tunes. Music therapy has been known to help people cope with physical or emotional needs and even lift self-esteem. Hop onto your favorite music app and belt out every verse of your favorite tracks. We suggest creating a group playlist with friends and family to blast when you need an afternoon pick-me-up.
GET YOUR DUCKS IN AROW—FINANCIALLY SPEAKING
You might be thinking anything to do with money would only add stress to your life. The pandemic has left many students unemployed and without a way to continue funding their education. Knowing where you are at financially will help you organize your goals and figure out the next steps to take, resulting in less anxiety about the future. Reach out to advisers about new scholarship and financial-aid opportunities.
CONNECT AND MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS
Social distance doesn’t mean social isolation. Friends and family make the best medicine when going through a stressful situation. While you may not be able to meet face to face, a simple call or virtual chat can turn even the darkest of days into meaningful ones. Check out online groups and forums for students. Chances are others are feeling something similar. CT