College students are moving back with parents; working and taking classes online can be confusing and chaotic; being cooped up in the house with the same people can get boring; deadlines are approaching fact; and motivation is hard to find.
Just the words “global pandemic” are enough to send stress levels and anxiety skyrocketing. Here are some tips to manage mental health during this pandemic:
Set a schedule
Set an alarm. You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn, but don’t sleep until 1 p.m.
Go to sleep at a decent time. Again, you don’t have to go to sleep right when the sun goes down but don’t stay up until 5 a.m.
Rhonda Lesley, Director of MSU’s counseling center, recommends “sticking to established bedtime and waking routines” and “getting the required 7-9 hours sleep (a night).”
Eat meals during mealtime — breakfast from when you wake to 10 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. You can skip breakfast, but try not to skip lunch or dinner.
“Routines bring familiarity and comfort which have the effect of reducing anxiety on our body and in our brain,” Lesley said. “Anything we can anticipate and practice can help alleviate stress during uncertain times.”
Talk to people who can help
Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t socialize. Talk to friends. Start a Zoom group call. Have a Netflix watch party using this free chrome extension. Keep in touch via snail mail; send hand-written letters and drawings. Staying connected with friends allows you to maintain some normalcy and provides an outlet to vent to someone besides your parents or siblings.
Maintaining relationships with friends is important, but don’t forget about your therapist. This might be a difficult time, but counselors and mental health professionals are there to talk about and help you through anything that bothers you.
If you don’t have a therapist, MSU has resources available for students and faculty. Although face-to-face appointments are cancelled, the counseling center is offering tele-appointments through Zoom.
Get a side hustle and make some money
Having a job is really great for establishing a routine. Essential businesses like grocery stores are still hiring.
Even if you can’t find a traditional job, there are still many other money-making opportunities available.
Parents may be looking for nannies or tutors while school is out. Sign up for Care.com or post on social media asking if anyone needs a babysitter.
Another way to make money is to start mowing. Spring is here, and the grass is starting to grow again! Ask family members and neighbors if they are in need of mowing services or post an ad on Craigslist.
If you need fast cash, get rid of stuff you don’t use anymore. List items on Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Craigslist.
Practice cleanliness and personal hygiene
Don’t forget to take showers. Wash your hands. Brush your hair and teeth. Take your meds. Trim your nails. Shave. Change your clothes daily. Clean your living space. Do laundry.
When you and your environment are clean and fresh, you feel good and it is easier to be productive.
Find a new hobby, pick up an old hobby or teach whoever you’re quarantined with a new hobby
Start baking or learn healthy recipes. Search Pinterest or ask your friends or parents for their favorite recipes.
Do something artistic like painting, coloring, knitting, sewing or making a sidewalk chalk masterpiece.
Play a new video game or teach a friend how to play your favorite game.
Start working out and eating healthy. Take this time off to better yourself.
“Find ways to get physical activity — walk the dog; do a favorite workout online; practice yoga or find a friend and go for a walk,” says Lesley, “Be sure to safely observe social distancing if exercising with others or out in public.”
Give yourself a manicure or pedicure. Make yourself a tasty treat. Do your hair and makeup and spiffy yourself up to go nowhere. Do a little online shopping if you can afford to. Have a movie night with candy and popcorn by yourself or with your roommates.
This might be a hard time to live through but just remember, you are not alone. Talk to people who are also struggling. There is solace in knowing someone else is with you. Don’t get caught up in a rut. Spend a little time being active. This quarantine might be something you’re struggling with, but it won’t last forever. Keep looking forward to the things you can do when it is over. You can find more information about MSU’s mental health services and resources on the Counseling Center website.