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Mental Health

How to Maintain your Mental Health During a Semester of Zoom

Although we’ve finally made it through our mandatory two week quarantine here at Colgate, for many of us this still means a lot of online classes and zoom meetings. Personally, I find navigating virtual classes to be more difficult than a typical in-person environment, and “Zoom fatigue” can make it hard to stay focused. Some classes have returned to in-person instruction, but even these are still far from normal, and they remind us that we all need to remember to care for our mental health. With so much time spent sitting behind a computer screen for remote classes and meetings, Zoom burnout is almost inevitable. My new schedule has made me realize that I need to take steps to keep myself from suffering from this. Here are some things that have worked for me to help navigate this new normal state without losing my sanity.

  1. Plan screen use when possible: Look at your schedule for the day ahead of time and plan ahead. Breaks between zoom classes or meetings are a great time to head outside or do something away from screens. If you have a short period of time or if a professor offers a quick break time, take it! Taking these breaks and doing something else is a very effective way to stay productive and prevent burnout, and also gives you some time to do something that makes you happy. Additionally, plan out your homework so that any work right before bed is with books rather than on screens.

  2. Make phone calls and see people in person: Although I love FaceTime as much as the next person, it does involve even more screen time and can add to that feeling of fatigue that arises from too many zoom meetings in one day. Try an old school phone call! Even though you’re still technically on your phone, they are still a viable option that can reduce screen time. Additionally, if you feel comfortable and safe doing so, grabbing lunch or coffee with some friends can be a great way to connect. Talking can really help wake up your mind and gets you away from the screen.

  3. Move, move, move!: If you’re someone with a schedule involving back to back zoom meetings or classes, it can be hard to get the time to even stand up and walk around. Even if it’s only five minutes, a quick walk down your hallway or in your room can really benefit your headspace! If you can get outside fresh air is great for stimulating your senses. You can also try checking your posture during class or placing your laptop on a higher surface so that you can stand instead of sitting in virtual classes.

  4. Avoid Multitasking: It can be very tempting to minimize your Zoom tabs quickly to check your email, or work on typing that paper you’ve been meaning to start; however, multitasking actually makes it harder to focus on either task because your brain is overstimulated. Pay attention to class and focus your mind on just one thing, and you can accomplish the other work faster at a later time.

  5. Take advantage of Gate 1: Despite the fact that there are still many restrictions on living, Gate 1 offers many new activity choices that weren’t previously available during quarantine. Walking into the village or around campus, eating at dining halls, and going outside whenever you want rather than at designated times are all new freedoms that can really help with the impacts of Zoom exhaustion. Take advantage of these new opportunities to see friends, enjoy the last bit of warmth, and explore Hamilton!

My name is Piper Schneider and I'm a sophomore at Colgate University. I'm following a pre-med path and am a double major in English and Neuroscience.
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