The Student’s Survival Guide for Managing Stress Mid-Pandemic

The world looks very different than it did a year ago for all types of people. Young, old, workers, students – all of us have had to find new ways to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a time that is already stressful, expectations for students are just as high as ever. It can feel like assignments just keep coming with little end in sight, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Trying to carry on learning during a pandemic is a difficult task, but there are ways to get through it. From one student to another, here are 6 tips for surviving the pandemic.

1. Acknowledge your Negative Feelings

Whether your school has opted to go fully virtual or meet in person, things probably look very different than they did before. Having to wear masks, distance form peers, and not see your friends in person can feel frustrating and isolating. You may be sad that you’re not getting “the full experience” of high school or college, and wishing you could have the vents that have been cancelled. These are valid feelings, and it’s okay to feel sad, angry, or like you’re missing out. Acknowledging that these feelings are real and allowing yourself to feel them is an important part of working through this pandemic.

2. Find Healthy Ways to Address Your Feelings

While there are no bad feelings, there can be healthy and unhealthy ways to express them. When we don’t have outlets for working through our negative emotions, we may unintentionally harm the people around us by lashing out, being irritable, or otherwise being so swept up in negativity that we forget how we influence the people around us. But there are ways to work through these emotions that don’t hurt the people around us. You can choose to journal about how you’re feeling, make art to express your emotions, or exercise if you’re feeling frustrated. What you choose to deal with these emotions depends on who you are as a person, and what makes you feel heard and happy.

3. Get Organized

The pandemic is stressful on its own, but letting your schoolwork pile up is an easy way to feel overwhelmed. Navigating digital platforms whether its Google classroom, Canvas, or any other software can be challenging, so why not return to traditional ways of keeping track of things? You can use a paper planner or make one online but having a list of assignments so you don’t feel like you’re forgetting anything can help to ease stress.

4. Don’t Forget the 15 Minute Rule

When there’s lots of work to do, the hardest part is usually getting started. Looking at a full paper you have to write or sets of math problems may bring up feelings of dread, and that’s okay. But the most important lessons I’ve learned in my many years of education is that you can do anything for fifteen minutes. For any assignment you just do not want to do, set a timer on your phone and try to work for fifteen minutes. You might often find that when your timer goes off that the assignment was never really that bad to begin with, and choose to finish it. Or you may decide you need a break. If that’s the case, then no worries! Just do fifteen more minutes after you’ve finished your break.

5. Get Involved

Having to be physically apart from people is, by definition, isolating. You may feel that it’s difficult to connect with your peers when so many limitations have been imposed on your relationship. These are normal feelings, but don’t give up on connecting with your peers! If you check in with your school’s clubs and activities, you may find they offer virtual meetings, coffee hours, or remote events. If that’s not your style, you can set up weekly facetimes or game nights over zoom with your friends. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re still getting involved with your peers and friends.

6. Make Time for Self-Care

If assignments are feeling pointless or like busy work to you, then you’re not alone! Almost all students seem to feel this way, especially since class has moved to virtual platforms. It’s important to remember that there’s more to life than class and school. Making sure you have time to do what you want to do – whether that’s doing art, spending time outdoors, or watching your favorite show on Netflix – are all ways to remember that there is still so much good in the world. Try to remember that even if you feel overwhelmed, or as if you should be working, that you deserve time off to enjoy life and your interests.