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Returning to School

DETAILS

Going back to school can be a melting pot of emotions-- excitement, nervousness, curiosity-- even without a global pandemic adding an element of uncertainty and change to almost all aspects of student life. Now, perhaps more than ever, it is of utmost importance to consider our mental health in relationship to going back to school (or not).

Before diving into navigating schools itself, we must first address a decision that most students are currently faced with: should I go back or not? This decision is deeply personal and variable depending on situational factors. If you are feeling ambivalent, consider asking yourself:

  • What protocols has my school implemented to ensure a safe learning environment?
  • What have been the pros and cons of a remote learning experience in the past?
  • What advising or counseling system is in place at my school to answer questions and provide guidance throughout the semester?
  • Who can I talk to that knows me well enough to shed light on insights I might not have considered?

Like most aspects of life in the pandemic, on campus life will be defined by a new normal. As large gatherings remain unsafe and many classes will continue to be remote, it is vital that we find other ways to keep connected and prevent feelings of isolation.

Some ideas are:

  • Take advantage of online resources such as workshops and get-togethers that your school may be offering in lieu of large gatherings
  • Find out what clubs and activities are still functioning in a safe manner-- or start your own online group activity (book clubs encouraged!)
  • Make time to play
  • Connect with nature at least once a day (maintaining succulents counts!)
  • SELF CARE: take breaks, meditate, get plenty of sleep, exercise, eat well, stay socially connected online

HOMEWORK

  1. Learn about your school’s mental health resources. Visit your school website and search for terms such as counseling center and mental health services. Make your own plan for college and your mental health with help of JED Foundation’s Set To Go Program.
  2. If you have roommates, talk to them about how you will collectively stay healthy mentally and physically. Talk about both your hopes and anxieties for the upcoming academic year and how to augment the good stuff and mitigate the bad.
  3. Get creative with an exercise routine! Although implementation of social distancing requirements may make it difficult to enjoy your school gym or intramural sports teams, there are other safe ways to stay active and healthy, such as finding a new running route or favorite park.
  4. Establish a time (daily, weekly-- whatever feels right to you) to call friends and family back home.
  5. Write down a list of things you can control (i.e. wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance from others) and things you can’t control (i.e. whether school gets shut down, whether a vaccine is produced imminently).
  6. Familiarize yourself with COVID-19 testing sites near you.