For the students who are returning to campus this semester, it’s going to be interesting to see how the fall semester pans out. It is exciting and comforting to be returning to campus and resuming life on campus will be fun after not being on campus since March. While it is nice to be returning to some normalcy, it can also be stressful since we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. There are a lot of different ways to cope with any returning anxiety that you may be feeling and still enjoy your fall semester. Even though school is back in session, it’s really important to social distance, wear a mask and practice good hygiene. There are a lot of different ways to protect yourself and others, cope with anxiety and have a fun semester. [bf_image id="qb05vt-4rn85s-81clab"]
One important aspect of dealing with the expectations of this semester is accepting that things will be very different this year. Acknowledging this can help avoid a major let down when campus life resumes. Even though it is generally accepted that things will be different, we won’t really know or understand how campus life will be until we are there. While returning to campus can give some the feeling of relief and structure, it can give others anxiety. We will also have to accept the idea that everything can change at a moment’s notice. We could once again be subjected to classes going all online, campus closing and having to move home. Last semester this threw me through a particularly stressful loop but being prepared for it this semester can make all the difference in terms of stress and anxiety.
Another very important aspect of dealing with anxiety is recognizing your stressors and how to deal with them. Checking up on your mental health is going to be even more important than ever this semester. This semester it’s really important to keep up with your mental health and how you are feeling. Identifying stressors is important. Obviously school will be a stressor, but if social gatherings or crowds are making you anxious, it is okay to step back. Social life is half the fun of living on campus, but things will be different, and taking a step back right now is totally fine. If you are feeling anxious and stressed it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are so many other college students feeling the same anxieties as you even if it doesn’t seem that way. To relieve anxiety try and stick to a solid routine and try to eat healthy meals every day (I know this is particularly hard for college students!) Also try to maintain a healthy sleep schedule, this is really important for fighting anxiety. Just like your body, your brain needs a break as well. Journaling, breathing exercises, mindfulness exercises and limiting time on social media right now are other good ways to help curb anxiety.
The positive side of returning to campus is you can still do the small things that you enjoy like getting coffee and walking through campus while enjoying the change of the seasons. I personally live for Halloween, and I feel very blessed that most of the fall activities that I love can still be done while social distancing. Pumpkin patches, cornmazes, pumpkin decorating with your girls should be a major part of your fall semester. Going to the shops downtown would not only be a fun distraction but will also help local businesses. Hanging with your social circle at the park or an apartment is still a totally acceptable option. Even though social distancing and small crowds are still required (and very important to maintain) being around the people who are in your social circle will help you feel less anxious and give you a sense of normalcy. If some of your friends aren’t on campus this semester, remember to reach out to them, it will make both of you feel better. Since it is still college, there will be large parties despite schools cautioning against it. Parties probably are not the safest idea right now, and if you are experiencing returning anxiety and stress, going to parties may make these issues worse. Remember that things will return to normal at some point, and there will be more parties, bar hopping, concerts and more in the future. This semester is about doing what is best for you and your mental health!