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Creativity in the Time of Corona: 5 Positive Tips for College Students

I heard it but couldn’t believe it. The United States President declared a state of national emergency less than 24 hours after Saint Louis University’s very own move-out announcement. 


Upon hearing the news that my college (and many others around the nation) would cancel in-person classes, I immediately picked up the phone to talk to my best friends. Transferring to online courses for the rest of the semester? Abroad students being sent back home? “Quarantine?” This felt like something out of a movie, except for the fact that this was (and still is) all very real.


First and foremost, I am deeply worried about the people who currently have the coronavirus (COVID-19) and I send good energy and prayers for their health and safety, all around the world. It is important to understand that colleges changing to online classes right now is happening to protect the health and well-being of ourselves and the people we care about.


We must recognize how this virus impacts not just ourselves, but other people as well. Not everyone is capable of fully recovering from COVID-19, and the extra precautions regarding the immunocompromised, disabled, elderly, and other at-risk populations are crucial to consider. 


Although it sure is a time of uncertainty with drastic portrayals from the media, now is not a time for panic. Preparation and knowledge is key. It’s understandable that some people are stacking toilet paper and water bottles out of fear from what’s to come next, but it is so important to be mindful that other people need your support and consideration as well, including those living in poverty, unhoused individuals, and more. 


And with all of this going on, I’ve realized just how serious this virus has become in such a short time. It is affecting all of us so differently, but this shift for college students is one thing that we are going through together. We are still united. For example, I’m worried about school transferring to online classes, but I am equally heart-broken about not seeing my best friends everyday, not being able to go to my routine job and internship back in St. Louis, and the cancellation of my sorority’s Greek Week events. 


This whole situation is immensely difficult to fully grasp, and I’m not even sure I’m done processing it yet. It’s going to take some time to adjust, physically and emotionally. Although I love my family and friends from home, like many other students, I feel like a major part of my identity is rooted in my college campus life. I’m in my second-year phase of transition from who I’ve been to who I’m becoming. We’re all still growing and learning, but a magnificent benefit of being on campus is that we get to do this scary and fulfilling process together. Being on campus offers a beautiful abundance of fresh opportunities to explore the city, volunteer with new people, and be unified in diversity. We’re on campus for almost 9 months a year, and this shift is shattering what we’ve grown to love and worked hard to accomplish.


Although this sudden change is only temporary for the next few months, every emotion regarding this situation is valid. Your feelings about this situation matter. You are not alone in how you feel, whether it be anxious, angry, sad, or confused. Everyone has their own experiences, and I believe now is the time to listen more closely to the needs of others, and strive to understand. 


But I know this whole thing won’t be easy; for the next few days, weeks, and months. 


Therefore, my friends, here are five tips on practicing optimism and healthiness during this stressful time. You are not alone, and I don’t want you to be bored on your laptop at home either. So since social distancing is highly encouraged, NOW is the time to focus on yourself and let your creativity flow. 


1. Stay aware and practice indoor activities.

Educate yourself on symptoms and prevention techniques, and spread that knowledge to others. Stay informed of accurate news and statistics, but take time for your own mental health too! Here’s a list of what you can do to avoid total boredom:

  • Try to cook a new recipe with family.

  • Practice yoga or create a work-out routine.

  • Finally open a good book (try 30 minutes of reading a day).

  • Start that TV show everyone’s been telling you to watch.

  • Make a DIY face-mask.

  • Learn a new skill (technological or home ec.).


2. Practice random acts of kindness!

  • Food and monetary donations can make a big difference in the lives of people struggling financially right now, such as families with limited resources and the homeless. Donate to your local shelters if you can! 

  • If you can’t physically donate, you STILL have the power to do good in this crazy time, especially through social media. Post information on your platforms to spread awareness about people who are at a disadvantage and what we can do to help. 

  • Don’t forget to share supportive and uplifting quotes on your social media too! You never know who needs good humor and positivity, and it can make such a transformation in someone’s day. 


3. Schedule FaceTime calls with friends.

I’m serious. Don’t let this situation be an excuse to lose contact with the people you care about. Even if we live all over the country, STAY IN TOUCH. Schedule times to call via phone or FaceTime, spontaneously text one another throughout the day, and stay updated with each others’ lives. Check up on people you may not talk to everyday, such as an elderly friend or lonely neighbor too.


4. Tell your OWN story, or express yourself through art. 

  • Write in a daily journal of 1-2 pages per day to process how you’re feeling (this can include prayers, poems, raps, song lyrics, random words, etc.).

  • Send a card to your friends who live far away.

  • Try painting or drawing a fun memory from this semester at school (whether it be grabbing a meal with a group of friends or dancing at Mardi Gras).

  • Try playing an instrument or learn to sing or dance to your favorite song.

  • Allow yourself to be creative and feel different emotions.


5. Take time with nature.

Don’t forget to get fresh air (it’s healthy for the body and for the soul!) Since COVID-19 is not airborne, you can still go outside. Take time to sit in nature, practice meditation, or go for a nature walk around your neighborhood (preferably at a respectable distance from other people). 



Remember: Corona = 0, college kids = 1. YOU are the one still taking classes in a new format, still talking to your friends, and still living your life as a college student in this crazy situation. This change does not erase all the good growth you’ve had this year. When fall comes around soon, everything will hopefully be back and better than ever. 


Until then, remind yourself that this may not be an ideal situation, but we are all in this TOGETHER. In order to get through this, we have to take care of ourselves and others who need it the most, not just as a country, but as a unified human race. 


We are in this together, and we must wield our greatest power in the midst of fear and the unknown: and that power is love. 

Maria is the HCSLU President for the 2021-2022 year. She is a rising senior with a major in Communication and a double-minor in Marketing and Film Studies. Maria was born in the Philippines and grew up around Chicago. She is a published author and poet, and loves all forms of inclusive story-telling, especially for media and entertainment!
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