Courtesy of Marek Uliasz/Iona College
Prior to the pandemic, individuals were accustomed to day-to-day routines. School, work, social events, family and friends were major components of everyday life. For a century, this was the norm across the world. But in 2019, a disastrous pandemic spread across the globe. All normalized routines and behaviors were halted and adaptation to pandemic life was underway.
Fast forward to the present day, where people have no option but to adapt. This rapid adjustment inflicted stress on many individuals, especially young college students.
Preceding the disastrous pandemic, college students were adjusted to a certain type of campus life. Students regularly would walk to in-person classes, study with their peers and participate in social activities. However, this is no longer the situation. Zoom has replaced all college activities, with many students having no in-person communication at all. This rampant removal and decay of social interaction can cause students to feel less connected and more lonely.
Moreover, remote learning can create strenuous situations in which students are constantly forced to be in front of a computer screen for hours at hand. In fact, the constant and monotonous gaze at a computer camera can facilitate a static environment, where students are entrapped in a vicious cycle. These are only some of many factors that are contributing to the mountainous stress building up in students.
Anxiety from uncertainty and strenuous activities has increased exponentially. Individualized adaption tactics can be used to reduce stress. According to many health sources, there are many self care and coping strategies that are beneficial and proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
The first consideration is to accept and understand that feeling disconnected is a valid emotion. Every student across the globe is in the same position of remote learning. Realizing this emotion and proactively making small efforts to resolve the feeling is a positive step forward. Specifically, staying in contact with close friends and family is an effective way to rebuild social connections. Conversations that provide a safe environment for one to release pressure can be tremendously helpful. In fact, social interactions in any manner are proven to decrease feelings of isolation. Additionally, a structured day can disrupt the vicious cycle, instead promoting a productive and fulfilling day.
Aside from the pandemic’s general impact, academic stress has also been prevalent. As the semester comes to an end, maintaining grades is the primary focus for many students. This adds tremendous strain to an already hectic time. Constant stress not only impacts students’ current health, but also impacts long-term health. Moreover, prolonged stress can lead to academic burnout where students feel so overwhelmed that all productivity and efforts drastically decrease.
The pandemic, and college in general, is a time when students need to make significant strides and adjustments in their life. Prioritizing self care can relieve the stress that has been building up throughout this year and promote greater physical, social and emotional well-being. Effective self care strategies include journaling thoughts to expunge burdensome feelings, reading novels, maintaining a healthy social circle, doing activities that are enjoyable and, most importantly, taking breaks from strenuous work.
Regardless of the specific self care activity used, it is essential, especially during this time of crisis, to prioritize self care. It is easy to get lost and overwhelmed by the Zoom classes, the remote academic transition and the constant isolation. However, maintaining a sense of balance can reduce the unwanted feelings and promote a productive environment. Sustaining and establishing constructive approaches to improving your current circumstances is the key to adaption.
That being said, it is up to the individual to take on this task. However, it is also necessary to check in with others and collaborate to better their surroundings. Students need to focus on themselves and their peers to facilitate a positive and healthy environment during this time of extreme stress.