Are you feeling off-balance? The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about changes in most areas of our lives, which may bring stress, anxiety and fear. Your foundation may feel unstable, and your grasp and sense of control may feel tenuous.
It has been months since the beginning of this pandemic, and no one is sure how much longer it will last. Although things are still uncertain, we’re in this together.
How do we cope and practice resilience during uncertain times? Let’s remember our wholeness and connections. The U-M Model of Well-being represents all those parts of us. You may want to check in with yourself and others: How are you feeling, not just your temperature, but in all dimensions of your well-being?
Following are tips for coping and practicing resilience.
Give grace. Stress uses up a lot of energy. You may feel unfocused and unproductive, and unsure of how to navigate the new semester. Allow yourself to dial down your expectations of yourself and others a bit. It’s okay and normal to waver around as you try to adapt to the new circumstances of attending class and working virtually. This is part of the learning curve. Give yourself and others grace.
Keep up your social connections. Those connections can mean the world. This is the time to stay in touch and supportive of each other. Check in on others: family members, friends, classmates, colleagues. You might choose one person a day to connect with. Ask how they’re doing. Let them know you care. Spend time interacting with any roommates you have. Imagine what you can do virtually, in pairs, in small groups, or in larger gatherings. Check out Virtual Recreation opportunities together.
Actively manage stress.
It’s important to notice when you’re stressed, to name it, and to acknowledge it. Just doing that helps us begin to relax and start to think of what we want to do about it. The article Grief and COVID-19: Mourning our bygone lives may help you recognize and name some of your feelings.
Move your body. The recommendation to hunker down (colloquially speaking) does not prevent going for a walk or a run (assuming you’re not in self-quarantine, self-isolation, or sheltering in place). Movement is a great way to relieve stress, notice the big wide world, and get fresh air. MapWalk is a fun tool to create your own routes for walking, running or biking. Check out online fitness classes on YouTube or other platforms. For those who are currently in self-quarantine, get some fresh air by opening up your bedroom window or taking time to read on your front porch.
Sleep. Sleep restores us like nothing else. Create a sleep schedule to wake up about the same time every day, which can add some structure to your day and help regulate your circadian rhythm, so you'll feel more stable. For more tips, see Sleep.
Practice mindfulness. Being mindful helps us to slow down and reduces anxiety. A few deep breaths can reduce stress. Notice nature, even in the middle of a city. Notice what you’re eating. Being mindful for one minute can be a welcome change from worries, and it can help us to focus on what’s truly important. See resources, including virtual, at Mindfulness.
Watch for not-so-positive means of coping. Sometimes people use alcohol or other drugs, sleep too much, or use other not-so-positive means of coping. If you notice that, consider Wellness Coaching, free for U-M students, now available via teleconference.
Mix it up.
- If you're staring at a screen too long, take a break, move around, and shift your gaze. If you have to continue to stay at your computer for school or work, make sure to use any breaks to do a quick stretch, get a snack or meal, or simply take time to sit without any screens, even if it’s just for 5 minutes.
- If you're worried about the news, tune out for awhile, listen to lullabies on Pandora, or dive into well-told, personal stories on the Moth instead.
- If you crave a change of scenery, take a walk, or if can't get outside, escape into a book or podcast. One engaging podcast is Hidden Brain, which "uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships."
Switch up your study habits, if needed. LSA Newnan Advising Center offers great suggestions at Adjusting Your Study Habits During COVID-19. The Sweetland Writing Center offers a Sweetland Writing Workshop.
Find your new normal. We feel better when we can get our bearings, find our resources, and create productive routines, and those things take time.
Without the usual rhythm and activities of campus life, you may miss having more structure in your day. Create a schedule e.g. when to rise, when to go to bed, when to attend class, and when to complete homework, chores, and other tasks. If possible, create a space to do work separate from your bedroom.
The Maize and Blue Cupboard is still open and providing food. There is no cost.
Use this time productively. Sure, use your free time to binge-watch. You don’t have to be super productive all the time. But you could make a plan to explore something new, hone your skills, build your resume. The University Career Center can provide help.
Consider how you can contribute. You might want to apply your creativity to this situation, write thank-you cards to health care providers and first responders, donate blood, find out how you can volunteer, envision Your Best Possible Self. This world needs you and your brilliance, now more than ever.
Want more ideas?