For the past two days, I've been feeling a sense of dread almost every second. I start to think about all of the things that I have to do, all of the classes I have to attend...and I start to panic. Tears start to fill my eyes and I start to feel claustrophobic in my own life. Now, this isn't a common thing for me and I'm not really sure how to handle it just yet, but I think I'm starting to get there. The one great thing that can come out of negative feelings is that you can eventually learn how to combat them.
The first thing I try to remind myself when I start to feel anxious or panicky is why I'm feeling that way. We just came out of winter break and are now starting our third term (fourth if you took summer classes) online, in the midst of a pandemic. That is not the easiest situation, and it is okay to feel lost right now. I have to remind myself constantly that it's okay to not have it all together at the moment. This is a turbulent time for all of us and it's hard to find a constant to reach out and latch onto.
School, for instance, has completely changed and the way we approach it is so different. We go into Zoom breakout rooms and stare at black screens with names written across and don't talk, and perhaps there's that one person who is just trying desperately to get everyone through the meeting. They try hard to get everyone to participate and sometimes get no response to questions. Be nice to that person, because it's really hard to be that person. That's one thing that has been extremely discouraging for me in the online learning environment. I'm the type of person that can't not try to interact in a breakout room, and often I feel stupid because of it. I leave the meeting feeling extremely down on myself and dreading the next time I have to put myself through that. I know others feel that way too, teachers especially. We all need to think about each other right now, because we are all going through something. Whether you're the person with your camera off that never talks in a breakout room, or the person that can't not talk in a breakout room, you deserve understanding and compassion. Let's be empathetic towards one another and help each other along. Every person around us is struggling with something right now. We're all in the same boat.
Another thing I do to help myself feel less stressed is writing down everything I need to do for the day. At first glance, this can be extremely overwhelming. However, it's a way to organize your thoughts and organize all of those due dates that are looming on your Canvas to-do list. Once I look at my list and actually walk my brain through each thing I have to do, I feel so much better because I realize that my list is attainable. I can do it. Right now my brain is in panic-over-anything-mode, so it's extremely important for me to stop the instant I feel overwhelmed, remind myself why I feel that way, and then reign in those feelings by showing myself that everything I have to do is attainable.
Life is hard. Change is occurring all around us all the time. Be compassionate with yourself, be kind to others, try to be understanding. We're all in the same boat here, and we can take comfort in that.