How a college student is coping with COVID-19

Coping with COVID when you're in college, but stuck at home with parents
Here’s Maya working away at home.

By Maya Smith

Fear, anxiety, boredom, sadness and uncertainty. Those are just some of the emotions I’ve been feeling as a college student, since COVID-19 came to Canada. The interesting thing about this entire situation is that every person I’ve talked to has been feeling the exact same way. We’re all sharing a new form of community during this difficult time and I hope that will last when this is all over.

As the days have progressed, how I’ve been feeling has really been changing. I’ve been learning new things about how people in difficult situations handle conflict. An angry outburst or a short text response doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is upset with you, it often means that they are feeling really scared or sad.

I’ve also learned a lot about how my generation likes to deal with problems, which seems to be through humour and memes. While I’m not really one to make memes about difficult situations, I’ve gotten a good laugh out of many different COVID-19 related videos. I’ve also seen how a community can pull together for their fellow small business owners, hospital staff and senior population.

Being in college during COVID-19

Beyond that though, what has it actually been like as a college student during this time of COVID-19 closures? It’s certainly been a lot to adapt to. I’m lucky that I already live with my family and I enjoy hanging out with them for long periods of time.

It’s weird with everyone working at home, especially because my dad is currently under self-quarantine because he was travelling in the U.S. The biggest change has definitely been having my classes moved online. Almost every single assignment that I have left this semester is group work, meaning scheduling group calls with everyone to get the work done.

It has also meant being a lot more on top of things, since each class has added a few more deliverables in place of in class discussions. It’s quite possible that for the next few weeks until classes end, I’ll be just as busy as I would have if I was leaving my house to go to school.

While I wish I didn’t have so much schoolwork to do, it is nice to have that necessary group work interaction with my fellow students so that we don’t feel so alone. We have had webinars and interactive class discussions via Zoom and Meet Up which added some sort of normalcy to what is going on. Beyond that, add on my remote job and my own blog and it takes up most of the day.

Here’s the thing, what really gets to me is the uncertainty going forward. As someone who struggles with anxiety and always wants to have some sense of control, I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet. When I spoke with my therapist (via Zoom, technology is a wonderful thing), she said that this entire situation is like exposure therapy dialled up to 100.

When I sit down and think about things for awhile, my brain starts to worry about everything. There likely won’t be any summer jobs. Will classes be back to normal in the spring or will everything be cancelled until September? When will places re-open and when can we all interact again? How different will things be after?

It can really get to you if you think about it like that. But it also doesn’t serve us to constantly be thinking about the unknown. Instead, I’m just trying to focus on what we can control and taking it one day at a time.

I’m really seeing this as the earth’s way of telling us to slow down, spend time with our loved ones, be more creative and restore some sanity to our civilization. That’s why I’m taking this time to do some of the things that I love, like playing with makeup, watching Disney movies, playing cards with friends online, eating with my family, going for walks in the park and of course, napping.

I’m also taking advantage of this time and the new innovated ideas that people are coming up with. I joined an online female business and health group, I’m going to download some free classes, support some local artists by downloading their colouring sheets and getting takeout from some of the businesses that are staying open. Picturing it as a relaxing time rather than being trapped in my house has really helped me feel less stuck.

When it comes down to it, I think that we all need to show the most kindness that we can to the people in our lives. Lots of college kids are back home with their families for extended periods of time and that can be difficult. I think we can all benefit by showing each other as much kindness as we can and letting people feel their emotions.

We can rely on each other to keep everyone feeling as calm as possible. Call your friends, reach out to your co-worker that you haven’t chatted with in a while, listen to the experts and follow what they say. And just take it one day at a time. After all, everything is changing so fast that’s all we can do is hold onto what we have right now.

Stay safe, dig out that book you’ve been meaning to read and take it one day at a time!

You may also be interested in reading:

How 5 different therapists helped me cope with COVID-19 anxiety

A trick for getting back to sleep

Do this now – Hygge prep for next winter (you’ve got time on your hands, right?)

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