At the beginning of COVID, my mental health began to take a toll. COVID created a lot of life changes from my study abroad trip being canceled, moving home from college, and learning to work an environment where both of my parents and I were forced to share a small space for work, college, and daily living. However, COVID also taught me a lot of important things, and I think it is because of the mental toll COVID created that I learned better ways of self-care and what self-care works the best for me.
Not only did the physical atmosphere change for college student’s social life, the levels of support and community they felt also changed. For some college students, especially members of the LGBT community, moving home meant losing their support system. Nearly half of college students identifying as members of the LGBT community are not supported by their immediate family or their family does not know about their identity within the LGBT community. These students were more likely to experience mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression during the pandemic.
COVID has taken a major toll on my social life. I am a senior in college, and this is a year that I have always looked forward to. However, because of COVID, I have barely seen most of my friends on campus because we are trying to avoid spreading COVID-19. This has taken an emotional toll.
I have worked to overcome some of the challenges of COVID in many different ways. First, I exercise everyday and go on walks. Exercise has been shown to improve a person’s mood, and I have found that to be true for me. Second, I FaceTime and call my friends and family that I am no longer able to see every day. This has allowed me to maintain social ties and my social life. Third, I have spent a lot more time growing in my faith with God, which I think has significantly contributed to my ability to get through these tough times.
Finding a balance during these uncertain times is challenging. How can you cope with the world we are living in as a college student? Check out these two tips.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness routines and relaxation routines can improve sleep and reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Find a mindfulness app or video that fits your life. Being mindful of your current situation is important. I have learned, no matter how tough it might be, do not look too far ahead. You can only handle what is in front of you and sometimes that might seem like too much.
- Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). Begin by tensing and relaxing each muscle group (legs, arms, neck, etc.)