Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

It would be an understatement to describe the 18 months of quarantine as a difficult time for most people. Most of us were stuck inside nearly every day staring at a computer screen. On the few times we did go outside, we only got the satisfaction of looking at the upper half of someone’s face. So, when September came along and UMass offered sit-down eating in the dining hall and in-person classes, I’m sure many people (like myself) were eager for this sense of normalcy. Daily life is still not as it used to be, and I’m not sure if or when it will get there. However, sitting in a lecture hall, seeing friends smile not behind a screen, and having toilet paper readily available are things we don’t take for granted anymore. 

The excitement of quickly jumping back into a more normal life almost made me forget the difficulties of this transition: no longer having open-note tests in classes, running through campus when you only have 15 minutes between classes, and (probably one of the most difficult) keeping my social battery charged for the whole day.

In March of 2020, when we first were told to isolate because of COVID, it was accepted as a difficult task and people were understanding of this challenging transition. However, when life was suddenly back to normal, we were expected to jump right back in as if we haven’t been hibernating the past 18 months. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to get a more normal routine back, but I had to change a few things to help me with this process.

So, I began to practice mindfulness, a vague term that basically describes being aware of myself and acknowledging my feelings. It sounds simple, but in fact, it is more difficult than it sounds to connect to your inner emotions. Yet, in the end, it improves my overall mood, productivity, and outlook on life.

My first step on my mindfulness journey was meditation. I have tried meditation before, but this semester I worked on meditating more consistently. To be honest, it is a little strange at first to just listen to someone’s voice while you sit with your eyes closed. However, the more I practiced it, the more I understood the motive behind it. Meditation is about taking time to just reflect on your thoughts at the moment, and not worry about something that is going to happen or already did. In fact, it is actually difficult to just sit and focus on the meditation without letting your mind wander. But, in the end, it gives me those few quiet minutes every day that I deserve.

A new technique I have been practicing this semester is journaling. At the beginning of this semester, I felt as though my days were nonstop, as I went from one class to one meeting to one exam, one after another. I found it helpful to take some time at the end of my day to journal how my day went. This means reflecting on how I felt and taking the time to reorganize my thoughts, especially on days when I felt like I didn’t even have time to think about anything except my next task on my to-do list. 

Finally, through all of this, I recognized the importance of taking time for myself, even by doing little things like not doing work while I eat, calling my mom, or not feeling anxious about the stuff I have to do. I began to allow myself to take breaks and moments where I didn’t worry about school, and most importantly, learn how to not feel guilty for it.

It’s safe to say that the transition from complete isolation to socializing again is a difficult task for many people. Sure, I am excited as more places open up and I can pull my mask down a little bit more, but that doesn’t mean it’s not challenging. As life begins to change more as the year goes on, it is especially important to keep these mindfulness practices available. Whether it is meditating, journaling, or simply carving out some time in the day for myself, mindfulness has helped me stay aware of my emotions and reflect on my feelings, making me happier, more caring, and more self-aware.

Can’t get enough of HC UMass Amherst? Be sure to follow us on Instagram, listen to us on Spotify, like us on Facebook, and read our latest Tweets

Julia Hershelman

U Mass Amherst '23

Julia is a Senior and this is her fourth semester being a part of Her Campus. She is a Microbiology and French double major. In her free time she loves hanging out with family, going for walks with her dogs, and working out.