College students across the country are currently learning the same unfortunate lesson: How to adapt when plans go haywire. Students have been forced into an unexpected situation where online learning is a necessity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of colleges and universities are closed temporarily, with uncertainty about a future reopen date. Many in the higher education community now use an online platform for teaching, and will continue to through at least the end of this semester. This drastic change has resulted in an increase in anxiety and isolation among students. With non-stop COVID-19 news updates via social media and push notifications, the student population that is vulnerable to mental illness is being hit hard. During this difficult time, self-care isn’t just important, it’s vital.
The challenges associated with online learning that are exacerbated during times of stress include:
- Loneliness: Some students find studying online quite a lonely experience. Being separated from the community and activities of campus life can create a feeling of isolation.
- Motivation: This is typically the biggest challenge students face. The excitement of a new normal allows students to start off with enthusiasm. But after a week or two, the monotony of quarantine starts to take a toll.
- Lack of technology: While back at home, students may not have access to a strong internet connection that video calls and some online courses require. This reality can create gaps in learning among students.
- Time management: If there is not a regular schedule telling students to be in a certain place at a certain time, students can fail to properly manage their time. This can lead some students to fall behind, especially students without a strong support system.
- Accountability: Many students struggle with keeping themselves accountable when there’s no one standing at the front of the room to ensure assignments are being completed.
Maintain Self-Care and Support Mental Health
During COVID-19, it is essential to take steps to maintain physical, emotional and mental health, while remaining connected to a larger sense of community. Confronting stress will make you, the people you care about and your community stronger.
With this being top of mind, below you’ll find self-care tips from mental health experts:
1. Maintain connections
Social distance doesn’t have to mean social isolation, if you connect with family and friends through technology. Set up a time to regularly connect with friends, classmates and family members with a video call. Seeing a friendly face can be a huge boost to your day.
2. Take care of your body
As best you can, eat healthy meals, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Keeping your body healthy is a critical part to keeping your mind healthy, too.
3. Take a break from news and social media
You can stay aware of important updates by checking in from time-to-time, but don’t overdo it with continuous updates that feed into fear and anxiety.
4. Pamper yourself
Check out these budget-conscious ideas from Forbes.
5. Go outdoors
Commit to getting outdoors and moving for at least an hour every day if possible. Getting a breath of fresh air can make a difference.
6. Stick with a daily meditation practice
The physical benefits of meditation include decreased blood pressure and lower levels of anxiety, as well as a healthier immune system overall. Try some of the various free apps, podcasts and YouTube videos to help you get started.
7. Give yourself permission to cry
At some point, you may feel sad, disheartened or even hopeless. Give yourself permission to feel these emotions fully to release any pain, and help see the sun through the clouds once again.
Available Support and Resources
Although many students are not physically on campus, there are still resources available to provide support. Your college or university may provide access to medical and mental health services that utilize telehealth for virtual visits. Telehealth enables long-distance patient and clinician contact for care, advice, reminders, education and intervention.
The benefits of telehealth for patients during COVID-19 include on-demand availability, at-home access (to help follow CDC recommendations for social distancing), reduced wait time and a faster path to improved health outcomes. TimelyMD’s Campus.Health program is an immediate telehealth solution that provides medical and mental telehealth for students, and can be launched within 24 hours. If your campus is in need of immediate support during COVID-19, please contact us today.