To say 2020 has been difficult for our mental health is the understatement of the year. As a counselor for 10 years, and for five years now at the University of Mobile, this past year has required more flexibility and creativity than any other year in my career so far. With anxiety on the rise (and rightly warranted), decreased face-to-face social interaction, and the increased need to manage multiple platforms (Zoom, hybrid classes, and socially-distanced classrooms), higher education needs emotional stability more now than ever. Here are a few tips to help manage your own during this unprecedented time.
1. Prioritize your health. I’m a firm believer that mental health is not just about what goes on between your ears. God made us to be multi-faceted, a spirit, soul, and body. Neglecting any of these for too long can shut all systems down, and fast. Make sure you are sleeping (yes, you late-night Netflix bingers, I’m talking to you), managing your physical health with nutrition and exercise, and dedicating time to renew your soul. Make church or fellowship with fellow believers a priority, even if virtually. You need connection more now than ever.
2. Manage your time effectively. Planning is vital to be able to handle all that is required of you academically and professionally. Utilize your calendar or planner to remember which classes meet virtually or in-person and when. Add in due dates and reminders. Schedule time for yourself and the activities that are most important to you. Don’t let assignments and due dates pile up before communicating with professors. It may seem daunting, but having a plan sets you up for success. UM’s Student Success Center has resources to provide UM students with concrete strategies for success. Anna Meherg, student support services coordinator in the Student Success Center, can help UM students with this.
3. Reach out to others if your mental health is waning. A pandemic is hard on everyone, even if you’ve never struggled with anxiety or depression before. With virtual platforms on the rise, mental health resources are more accessible now than ever, and insurance is providing reimbursement in most cases. Sometimes just talking through things with a neutral party can be the most helpful support system in your life. While offering increased counseling sessions this semester, as well as multiple ways to access those services, the University of Mobile is offering other opportunities to connect with others. Andrew Onimus with mindingyourmind.org will be speaking virtually at 1 p.m. CST on Friday, Oct. 23, at http://tiny.cc/andrewUMobile on his journey of overcoming his mental health struggles. “Self-Care Sessions” are also in planning for the remainder of the semester to encourage students to take time for themselves during this time.