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How College Students Can Prioritize Mental Health During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The last few months of the term can be extremely difficult and stressful for college students who, not only have to stay away from home but also adjust to new teaching methodology and justify the scholarships and stipends they’ve gotten. The novel Coronavirus which outbroke at the end of the last year in China has made everything more stressful for college students which have a lot on their minds – social life, studies, projects, presentations, final exams, and more. In this article, we’ll talk about how college students can prioritize mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

College students, especially freshmen, entered a new epoch in their life when they enrolled in the desired college or university. Many of them had to adjust to new social and teaching forms, methodologies, and schedules. That in itself can have a huge mental toll for those who had to travel on the other side of the country.

Now many students have to travel back, and while the online coursework is available and extensive, not everyone has access to the internet. Many governments in the USA and the rest of the world are uncertain about the course of growth of global pandemics, as well as the application of midterm and final exams. That just adds up to the stress and mental health decay.

Common Signs Of Mental Health Issues In Students

Stress, Depress and Anxiety, health conceptual

Image Source: Terry Cralle

As mentioned above, an intense and productive student lifestyle can be extremely stressful. Even without the global pandemic going on, it’s extremely important to polish your mental hygiene and major, minor, extracurricular activities, and side-job can put a lot of strain on students’ emotions and spirit.

The most common mental health problems manifest through anxiety and depression. That doesn’t surprise us as our natural expression of stress is through fear and anxiety and depression that is a consequence of that. Given that many students have to think about the global pandemics aside from all their student obligations, early symptoms of the two liabilities should manifest at some point at this time.

It’s okay and expected to feel these emotions. However, if the symptoms of anxiety and depression are so aggressive that they affect your day-to-day activities, like more or less appetite, refusing to get out of the bed, or practice hygiene like shower, it’s time to have a conversation with friend, family or a mental health professional that will help them comprehend the source of their ailments.

Anxiety and depression can affect concentration and the way people focus on their coursework. Finally, the social distance-triggered withdrawing from social interactions can be a clear indicator of a health problem.

Other types of symptoms include frequent anxiety and panic attacks, difficulty focusing on their daily activities, and facing difficulties in self-care.

Going Home

As mentioned above, going to college can be difficult because students have to travel to the other region and even state to enroll in the college they desire the most. Due to the global situation, many students have to withdraw home because the in-college campus and dorms no longer provide support for students abroad to preserve the facility from the campus. That can have negative consequences for the students and their mental health.

Some students may also move home because their family asked so, to preserve the family relationship and have the family close to each other. Some students are thrilled to be at home with their closest members, but that doesn’t work everywhere. Some students sought to resort to college because of domestic violence, a disease, or other distressful events that happen at home. For those students, staying at home in itself can be stressful and tasking.

Many students who’ve adjusted and gotten used to life on campus can have difficulties getting used to living with their parents and caregivers again. When at home, with all the measures being taken around the world, we’re restricted from searching our apartment or community we can be staying at, causing us to be chained to the home and people we’ve spent most of our lives living with.

How Can You Make Your Stay At The Home Less Stressful?

Less Stressful

Don’t worry, there are some ways to keep your head clear and mind peaceful even when you’re staying at home, in an uncomfortable scenario.

Set clear boundaries between you and your family members

It’s alright not to have the best relationship with your family. Many households could have extremely strong ambitions for their child, making unrealistic requirements even during these difficult times. Also, living in a large family and limitations in technology and other resources can make attending online coursework even more difficult, especially if you don’t have internet.

Try your best to provide yourself with some quiet time and isolation where you can enjoy being yourself. It’s okay not to prioritize studies but yourself. The quiet places at home where you can be alone can help you recollect your thoughts and plan your organization. If you feel that you’re on the way to engage in triggering topics step away to calm the tensions.

Keep in touch with your friends

The privilege to live in the era of rapidly-growing technology allows us to reach out to our best friends and colleagues even at a huge distance. You don’t only have to communicate with your family members, there are a lot of people who you can reach out to talk to. Not everything has to be uncertain, if you feel the daily panic and anxiety hitting in, call your best friend and talk about classes, rekindle the old good memories, play online games, there’s a lot you can do.

Make your COVID-19 diary

A lot of people made it a practice to write their diary which helps them cope with everyday uncertainty. If you don’t feel too overwhelmed by the daily data, you could report the information in your country or area and then analyze it to draw interesting conclusions. Also, if you’re lonely, you can use this diary to communicate the issues you’re facing and grow to be more comfortable talking about your problems. You’re your best friend.

Take a walk

Although going out is strongly looked down upon with all the social distance measures taken in the vast majority of countries, you can always take a peaceful morning walk in your neighborhood before the rest of the street woke up. We don’t encourage you to go to critical and risky public places which are most likely locked, but you can take a walk to the local trekking road or a park, 15 to 30 minutes should be more than enough to freshen up and clear your head from the negative thoughts.

But as mentioned at the beginning of this section, staying at home isn’t safe for everyone. Unfortunately, many students are the victims of domestic violence so if you feel unsafe, it’d be best to reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, as well as the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline if you notice something suspicious or are under a sexual assault.

Ways For College Students To Prioritize Mental Health During The Covid-19 Outbreak

Self-care instead of school work

The social media is screaming with the motivational and inspiration-sparking posts about not learning something new means people don’t have discipline. That’s not true. While this period is an excellent opportunity to develop new skills and read inspiring books, it’s also time to heal from chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, stress, and toxic people.

No one can force anything on you, not even school. If you feel everything is too much for you in the time you’re spending time at home, better prioritize things that you enjoy and feel comfortable doing.

Set boundaries on social media and news outlets

Social media networks provided a lot of benefits we enjoy today like communicating with our family and friends, check new places and events, and even learn new things and products. The communication bit is especially important during the rough time we face with the epidemics. That said, it’s good to use social media to communicate with dear people especially if you’re locked away from them.

Still, social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube and WhatsApp are known to be the main medium for spreading misinformation and propaganda. A lot of that can end up sparking panic and trigger some mental issues like anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

Note: Another source of panic can be unreliable and non-credited news sources like tabloid news that use malicious activities to trigger traffic and revenue on the news portals. In a world where the misinformation-induced panic spreads faster than the COVID-19 virus, it’s important to trust your instincts and surround yourself by things that bring you peace. That said, only check for news updates from local, credited sources and even that limit your information intake to once to twice a day.

Some sites upload real-time information about the virus updates, which can be checked here. Still, refrain from checking the news for more than once or twice a day, as poorly-written headlines and uncredited information

Organize your time and workspace

We highlighted above that you should prioritize self-care and me-time over college activities, your degree won’t go anywhere and neither will your exams, yet your health can seriously decay due to all worrying and stress, going so far to the point it could end with psychosomatic sickness.

Nevertheless, whenever you feel you’re ready to take control over your studies and catch up with the online syllabus, it’s important to organize your time in a way to have enough breaks and rest and not get overloaded with activities and obligations. Additionally, it’d be a nice idea to create a nice and relaxing workspace with peaceful and study-encouraging music, enough natural light, plants, and healthy snacks to accompany you.

Note: Another thing that increasingly grew in popularity is “Study with me” videos on YouTube where you can watch another person study and read on the video to encourage you to do the same. Try to get or make your planner where you can track sleep time, studying time, and notes, that also helps a lot when it comes to studying motivation.

Stick to your routine

One really good thing to do to block the stress and negative thoughts is to create a routine that is organized in a way to always have you in action and focus on certain things. That way you won’t have time for anxiety to hit in, and you can focus on finishing your daily activities like studies and chores. Anxiety and depression can often affect our routine in a way to make it difficult for us to focus on our activities, but if we create a strict routine we will stick to, it’ll be easier to erase the negative thoughts and the feeling of hopelessness.


If you’re an avid fitness enthusiast, the global situation most certainly affected the way you gain nutritional values and exercise. In many places, gyms, public parks, and even pools are closed to prevent the spreading of the novel coronavirus. However, that doesn’t have to mean you need to fall out of your shape.

There are a lot of objects at home that can be your great companion. If you can afford a treadmill and other gym objects you should go for it. You can create weighs out of water tanks and bottles, as well as other objects you’re using in the house.

Note: If you live in a peaceful neighborhood, you can even push yourself to go jogging in the morning. Alternatively, there is a lot of Yoga, aerobics, and pilates classes on YouTube, as well as mobile apps with workout routines and plans.

Other Things To Do

college student study at home

Lastly, don’t forget to do the activities you enjoy doing and are making you happy. Make the best out of the self-quarantine and don’t worry as just like everything else, the COVID-19 pandemics will end too.

At the very end of this article, we prepared a general but helpful list of online sources you can use to learn, study, read books or develop some additional skills and enhance your productivity.

Also, if you feel your emotions are becoming too much to handle, reach out to your school counselor online to talk about what’s bothering you. There are also a lot of online therapists who provide help free of charge during these dreadful times. What are your ways to prioritize mental health during the COVID-19 pandemics?

Also Read: How to Sleep With Covid: Useful Tips to Improve Sleep During COVID-19

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Thursday 16th of July 2020

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