[Written by Scott Davis]
It’s obvious that we are living in difficult and unexpected times. It’s almost impossible to have predicted these circumstances and the impact upon each of us.
The worries and concerns over health, finances, family members and your education are genuine and valid. There is no simple tool to make your worries and concerns disappear, but here is a list of things you can do to help reduce your concern.
- Please try to take a break from the news. You should still be informed, but you don't need to check the news every 10 to 15 minutes. Instead, pick a time during the day (not before bed) to check in with the news. Set a time limit, and remember that you don’t need to read the same story from dozens of news sources to be aware of what's going on in the world.
- Go outside. Leaving your apartment or house for the backyard or other nearby spot that's away from any crowds will do wonders for your peace of mind.
- Connect with someone you love (or really like). Call them, or FaceTime, Google Hangout or Skype with them. Try to go beyond a text or liking something on Instagram. Connecting with people reduces stress and allows you to share what is on your mind and in your heart.
- While gyms have closed, YouTube is an amazing source for different types of videos about physical activity. Even better, take a break from technology and go for a walk or a run outside in nature. Exercise can reduce stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression.
- Cook a recipe from scratch. If it has occurred to you that you are bored, take the time to make a recipe. Is a friend or family member an amazing cook? Call, Skype or FaceTime with them to learn a recipe. Having every ingredient right now may be difficult, but look into the back of your pantry, and you may find some ingredients you haven’t considered. It’s a good time to get creative.
- Pray, meditate or indulge in a thought experiment. Engage in your faith online. Many churches are now streaming their services, and there is a great variety of apps with guided meditations – Calm and Headspace are two good options.
- Work on a project. Whether it is cleaning, finally putting together that Ikea furniture, organizing your online photos, or catching up on school studying (yes, even writing a paper), projects help with a sense of accomplishment and control. It can also get your mind off things for a while.
- Read a book that isn't related to your field of study or area of academic interest. Is there a mystery or science fiction book that someone has recommended to you?
- Take breaks, regardless of what you decide to do. Find a series or movie to watch on any of the available streaming services. Get show recommendations from your friends and family.
- If possible, do something for someone else. While out shopping, can you assist someone who might struggle with a task? Write letters or cards to elderly family members or neighbors. Maybe take on a task or chore at home that’s not normally “yours.” By giving of our time, it moves the focus off of ourselves.
- As surprising as this information may be, play a video game. It can be a fun distraction as long as it doesn’t take away from everything else you need to do.
- Try your best to keep a consistent sleep schedule. Without sleep, your ability to process information is limited. With sleep, you are better able to face additional challenges.
- Focus on gratitude. While everything is far from perfect, be thankful for what you have. Create a list of the people and things that you appreciate instead of what is missing.
These are uncertain times, and some anxiety and stress are expected and normal in this situation. However, if you feel like this is something more significant, and trying the suggestions above isn’t helpful, please reach out and share how you’re feeling.
The Counseling Center and campus pastor are both available to assist students remotely. Pastor Fick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on remote counseling via telehealth, please contact email@example.com.
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