Especially during the pandemic, mental health for students has become a matter of increasing concern. To better understand and provide helpful strategies to deal with mental health issues among the IMSA student body, the Acronym and StudCo have collaborated with IMSA’s counselors Kevin Kusy and Takeisha Reams. Both counselors responded to individual students’ questions regarding mental health and/or improving behavior. It is important to note that every IMSA student is different and handles obstacles in different ways. The advice provided by the counselors is meant to offer potential strategies in dealing with common problems that IMSA students are having while learning from home.
“I became really lethargic, and I want to be active but I don’t have any motivation.”
The first step is identifying the reason(s) why you are feeling drained of motivation. For IMSA students specifically, procrastination, feeling anxious and overwhelmed, not having a plan, questioning the purpose of your work, and not feeling like you’re in control are all factors that can directly or indirectly drain motivation. Once the influence(s) of your lethargy is/are known, you can choose solutions that will best remedy the lack of motivation. These include:
· Developing a schedule and sticking to it.
· Breaking things down into smaller chunks.
· Taking breaks from tasks, which will help you regain focus.
· Prioritizing what needs to be done, based on importance and deadlines.
· Reach out to the counseling department and brainstorm some ideas.
· Talk to friends, family, faculty, and staff and ask for help/suggestions.
“How do I combat Zoom fatigue when I am on a computer the whole day?”
There is no feasible way Zoom and other online learning platforms will not be in use under the current circumstances. It is also unrealistic to expect that everyone can live without screen time used for entertainment. Therefore, the best way you can create a plan for tech relief is knowing what time and how long you will be on a computer for class, and from there, organizing the time spent being online for homework, extracurriculars, and other potential work in addition to fun activities. Specific tips to keep in mind are taking regular breaks for at least 5 minutes every hour, staying hydrated, eating adequately and healthily, and getting a solid 8 hours of sleep consistently.
Additionally, experiment with how you conduct some activities to limit screen time and fatigue. For instance, rather than Facetiming your friend, try calling them instead. When feeling slightly sluggish, don’t resort to caffeinated drinks such as coffee or energy drinks either. Try tea or some other drink which will wake you up, which will reduce crashing.
Is there any way I can reassure myself that I’ll be able to handle another semester at home without in-person social interaction?
One of the best tactics to make you feel good about yourself is positive self-talk. In moments of sadness or frustration, everyone is more critical of themselves. However, this typically manifests as nonconstructive criticism which only serves to make you feel miserable and decrease mental wellness. Conversely, positive self-talk reaffirms what you consider to be positive aspects of yourself, thereby increasing self-compassion and allowing yourself to appreciate your accomplishments in full. Even in negative situations, positive self-talk can be implemented: common phrases are “It is ok to make mistakes, and I choose to learn from them,” and “I did not do my best this time but I will be better prepared for when something like this happens again.”
Benefits of positive self-talk include the following:
· Reduces stress by thinking more optimistically and being proactive in seeking out coping strategies when challenges arise.
· Boosts confidence and resilience because positive self-talk can increase one’s self-esteem, which equates to higher levels of achievement (goals, grades, and recovery).
· Building more meaningful relationships with others (can be online or in-person) because you are feeling more positive and self-assured. Think of people who are confident and how their confidence impacts the people around them.
How can I find the energy to balance my social life and still be motivated to make friends and socialize?
This is a tricky question to answer generally because the answer largely depends on the distinct capabilities, needs, and wants of every individual. It is important to understand that no one can always remain balanced in life. As life circumstances change, the time dedicated to other aspects of life typically must change as well. Therefore, it is unreasonable to try and ascribe the same type of balance which you achieved or wanted to achieve at IMSA to your circumstances at home during remote learning. Evaluate what it is you seek in terms of socialization. Do you want to better communicate and/or communicate more with existing friends? Perhaps you would rather, or in addition, try and make new friends while learning from home. It is really all up to what to your desires and capabilities. However, keep in mind balance cannot be obtained by ignoring the basics. Having a consistent sleep routine, eating healthily and enough per day and other forms of self-care are also vital to achieving balance. Do not sacrifice one aspect of your life to indulge in another.