It’s possible that this is the last pandemic-semester we will have to face, but it could also be one of the worst for some. With a new semester comes new worries, so it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, and use the resources available to you.
While COVID-19 cases have started trending down, they peaked recently in late January. Along with managing testing, soon the university will have to deal with managing and distributing vaccines to students, faculty and staff. Zoom classes are as hard as they have ever been, and we still have to practice social distancing and stay home when possible.
To top it all off, spring break is canceled. While departments can schedule days off, no one will be getting that long, relaxing week we all so desperately need halfway through the semester. Now more than ever, it’s important to consider your mental health.
For many, the traps of depression and stress are easy to fall into. It’s hard to blame anyone for becoming overwhelmed with college life, regardless of all the added stressors we’re facing now. We know many who are already struggling to keep up with coursework this semester and are instead turning to procrastination of any form to distract themselves from everything that’s going on.
There are others who might be tempted to throw themselves into their work — ignore sleep, diet, exercise and break time — to convince themselves they have some sense of control over their situation. Neither of these routes are healthy. There’s no right way to handle all the garbage that life is throwing at us right now, but it’s always best to try and keep balance in your life.
Please, don’t forget the resources available to you. Though the early-pandemic fads of parking-lot dates, Zoom watch parties and plenty of other trite-sounding activities aren’t trendy anymore, they are the best option right now for those who are trying to social distance.
Remember the on-campus resources available, too. If you’re one of those people who thought they didn’t need to get academic help from a place like the Writing Center or thought they could handle their mental health issues without assistance from Counseling Services, now is the time to swallow your pride and do what’s best for yourself.
Of course, most importantly, do not break social distancing guidelines. This semester has already been tough, and it’s going to get tougher, but no one should be using that as an excuse to spread a deadly virus.
All of those at universities need to view this semester as a last hurrah — if all goes well, this may be the last pandemic-semester any of us have to deal with. Embrace the awkward Zoom classes, the countless nights alone at home and the endless hours of Netflix. It’s going to be demanding, but if we take care of our mental health and do what’s best for us with what we have, we can make next semester one to celebrate.