No Breaks During the Semester = Mental Health Declines

Not having breaks during the semester, even if it’s just a long weekend, was deeply missed these past few months. It’s difficult to complete college classes in a span of just 14 weeks all while participating in extracurriculars, working part time jobs, trying to have a social life, spend time with family, and staying on top of your mental and physical health. 

A lot, if not all colleges in New England (maybe beyond) followed this plan; not giving students and faculty breaks throughout the semester to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Yes, I believed it worked and helped slow the spread, but mental health and stress related issues has risen for sure. Juggling all of those things as college students is hard. It’s hard to stay on track in your classes and keep yourself healthy, all while aiming to graduate with great grades and get a job in your desired field. 

And with the weather changing and daylight savings passing by making it dark by 4:30p.m., it only makes it even worse. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of falling behind but its also hard to keep going and not take those breaks we so desperately need. 

Some tips I have found helpful has been exercising at least 4 times a week, as this helps increase endorphins which makes you feel good. I know that after I workout I feel as if I can do so much more, and it gives me a break to escape and forget about the work I have to do for the time being. Another tip I have is to eat healthy; but to also to treat yourself and not restrict yourself as this can bring more stress and anxiety. It makes me feel good physically when I eat a balanced diet, but I also accept my cravings at night for those not so healthy foods. I will also occasionally stop at Starbucks to get myself my favorite tea to help me get through the rest of the week. Prioritizing your work by making lists and getting small tasks done when you have the free time also eases my stress levels. I make to-do lists on index cards every night of things I have to get done the next day. It feels good to check things off but its also okay to cross things off if you didn’t get to it that day. 

Not having breaks this semester has challenged me for sure, and without these tips I think it would have been worse. I strongly believe that sticking to a schedule and keeping yourself busy will help make the days and weeks go by faster. Not sitting around in my room at school and participating in activities and clubs has made me a more efficient person. Working two jobs this semester has helped my mental health in a way that I am making money during my free time, which helps me manage my time and manage my schoolwork. We need structure and limits when it comes to our mental health. Not having breaks this semester has challenged those, but we didn’t let it break us. 

I leave you with this: my school’s motto is, Lux et Spes, which translates to “In light and Hope,” which is a powerful statement that I remind myself of often. We must remain to keep the light and hope in our lives, and pray that things get better.