College days are supposed to be the days of hanging out at the local restaurant or bar with your friends until the wee hours of the morning. They are supposed to be the days that many say are “carefree”; the days of being in between an adolescent and an adult with minimal responsibility and a whole lot of freedom. College days are supposed to be days of tailgating before sporting events, piling into a dorm room to watch the latest episode of the current trending TV series, and socializing with friends as you walk around campus. In March of 2020, all of this changed for college students all around the country. Those college days have been replaced with social distancing, signs that say “Closed” at the local hangout, and virtual classes. Many college students have been forced to return home to live and take classes online. Other students are staying put and doing classes both remotely and in-person. One thing, however, is for sure. The current college experience for these students has drastically changed.
Over the coming weeks, college students at Savannah’s local colleges will begin classes both virtually and in-person. SCAD, Georgia Southern Armstrong Campus, South University, and Savannah State University are all taking varied approaches to the upcoming fall semester. Some students are engaging in exclusive online learning, while others are returning to in-person classes. College students in our area are embarking on an unprecedented journey as they begin a semester of college during COVID-19. If you are a college student, you are facing new fears and challenges that college students in previous years have never had to face. You are probably wondering things like:
- What will happen if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in my dorm?
- Will my college have to close if cases rise?
- Will I be able to find a job when I graduate?
You are also dealing with emotional concerns and feelings that are new and uncertain. Many students are beginning to feel isolated, disconnected, anxious, and depressed. Research shows that college students are some of the most vulnerable to feelings of loneliness and depression. They also experience higher rates of anxiety than other age groups. As fears and concerns over COVID-19 rise and as college students are forced to be less social, many students are left struggling with mental health issues.
At Water’s Edge Counseling, we help numerous college students from our local colleges deal with anxiety and depression, and as COVID-19 has rocked our lives, we are helping many of these students deal with their questions and uncertainties about life right now. If you are a college student, here are a few tips to help you as you begin this new semester of school during these strange times:
- Accept Your Emotions – It is okay if you feel anxious, lonely, and confused. Accept that these are hard times and that you are feeling the way you do. One of the worst things you can do is to ignore these feelings and stuff them down inside. Express them, talk about them, and accept them.
- Regularly Connect with your Support System – Whether it’s your parents, your friends, or a mentor or coach, make time to regularly check in and connect with them. This may look like a virtual Facetime call or phone call, but you will need support as you embark upon this semester. We all need support and we all need encouragement. Make time to connect with those who love and care about you.
- Get Adequate Sleep – Science proves that sleep is extremely critical to our emotional and mental health. Manage your time well so that you are not pulling “all-nighters” on a regular basis. Try to guard and protect your sleep as much as possible. Getting enough sleep will greatly help your overall emotional state.
- Keep a Routine – Keeping a schedule or routine will add some sense of control and structure to your life during a very uncertain time. Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day. Eat regular meals and snacks. Exercise regularly. Having these regular scheduled activities will help to keep you grounded and feel more in control as things get crazy.
- Make Time for Yourself – Your brain needs time to process all of the stress and anxiety that you may feel this semester. Make time for yourself to think and process all that is going on. This may look like a daily walk or warm bath. For some, it could be reading, painting, or journaling. Find an activity that is relaxing to you, and engage in it on a regular basis. Give yourself space to think and breathe and process.
If you find yourself struggling with feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, and fear this semester, and if these feelings are affecting your day to day life, please contact us. The therapists at Water’s Edge Counseling would love to help you as you go through these difficult times. We are here for you and would love to help! Give us a call at 912-319-5552.