By Victoria Fusco ‘23
As many of us made the difficult decision to return to campus this semester, we found ourselves faced with a scary and unforgiving world. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and other unease in the world, the unknowns far outweighed the knowns and left us to wonder when life would finally be normal again.
I’m sure we can all attest to the individual stress and anxiety kindled by these existing issues. We worry about the health of our loved ones and ourselves. We worry about our futures: what will my life look like after college? Will it be the same as I pictured before? The list goes on.
There have been and will be instances in these trying times when we need to take a step back and prioritize ourselves and our well-being. Our mental health is vital to finding a space for us to create freely and live happy, healthy, and fulfilled lives.
In this article, I suggest ways in which you can work towards prioritizing your mental health and ensure that you finish the semester strongly, despite the pandemic!
Whether it’s a five minute walk around campus or a challenging run on the cross country trails (located behind Stowe parking lot), it’s vital that we keep our bodies moving and our minds clear. Perhaps you’ve been working in the library for hours, overwhelmed by homework and projects. Or, maybe you’ve just read the latest news update on the pandemic or about an instance of social injustice. Stop, stand up, and take a walk outside! Appreciating the beauty of nature helps put things into perspective. Though the world is chaotic right now, you can still find peace of mind.
Katie Frank ’22 talked about her experience during the pandemic while trying to stay active. “Running outdoors over the pandemic (and even before) has become my favorite way to relieve stress, let off steam, and enjoy the trails and neighborhoods around me while staying healthy. I play my favorite songs while I run, listen to podcasts, or even listen to nothing to help me clear my head. It’s a great way to release endorphins and feel like I have some control over what is going on in the world around me!”
While there are resources on and off campus to talk with professional individuals about the state of our mental health, sometimes it can be just as or more comforting to reach out to campus confidants who make you feel comfortable and safe. Your advisors and close faculty/staff members are great resources for seeking help when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Michele Yeung ’23, reflected on this, saying, “During stressful times, I always feel comfortable talking to my advisor. She usually responds within 30 minutes with kind words and possible solutions to my problems.”
Hearing genuine concern and thoughtful feedback from an intimate companion after discussing your emotions and worries can be extremely therapeutic and refreshing.
During this period of time when social distancing is vital for our health and the health of others, it is easy to distance ourselves emotionally from our relationships on and off campus. It is important, however, that we maintain peer support systems on campus. There are many ways in which we can maintain these relationships without compromising our own health. Whether it be a distanced lunch on Chamber’s lawn or a game night over our ~favorite~ communication platform Zoom, we can spend quality time with those who have comforted and supported us through these hard times.
Christian Peterson ’23 shared the ways in which his friend group works to stick together during these difficult times: “We’re definitely living in a world where you have to make plans if you want to see your friends. To stay in touch, we try to organize nightly Commons dinners, distanced movie nights, and regular Zoom calls with our friends off-campus.”
Making Time for Yourself
While this one may seem obvious, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. When our lives are filled with assignments, meetings, classes, and even time with friends, we can sometimes forget to sit back, relax, and plan time for ourselves to do something we love. It could be taking photos, binging Netflix, or even doing small things like hour-long naps. Whatever it is, prioritize yourself when needed and understand that you deserve time to revitalize and cope with current events. Your emotions and your experiences are valid; this is a hard time for everyone in different ways.
As a community, we are here to create a safe and inclusive environment for each other. During difficult times, we must stick together and work towards bettering ourselves and our environment. Remember, we’re in this together!
*Counseling is available for those who prefer or need more traditional support.
- Open weekdays between 7:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
- Schedule an appointment: 704-894-2300
- Open weekdays, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- Schedule an appointment: 704-894-2300 or email email@example.com
- Contact on-call counselor at 704-894-2300
Racial Justice/Racial Trauma Resources (can be found at https://www.davidson.edu/offices-and-services/student-health-and-well-being/counseling-services)
- Young, Gifted, @ Risk and Resilient: A Video Toolkit to Support the Well-Being of Students of Color
- Emotionally Restorative Self Care for People of Color
- Filling our Cups: 4 Ways People of Color can Foster Mental Health and Practice Restorative Healing
- Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man: A conversation with former NFL player Emmanuel Acho about race that many white people have never been able to have
- Brene Brown with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist (Podcast)
- Stepping Out of Privilege with Layla Saad, Author of Me and White Supremacy (The goop Podcast)