The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Staff Ed: Prioritizing mental health during a pandemic

3 min read

The Blue & Gray Press


This past week has been a huge adjustment to say the least. For many of us, it feels like classes marched on with barely a nod to the monumental changes in our lives, and for many the workload has gotten heavier. While many other universities gave students and professors an extra week to adjust and adapt syllabi, we jumped right back in after only four days.

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Being at home makes it easy to get distracted; many of us have spent years cultivating study strategies and the perfect environment at school that is most conducive to our learning. Students often choose UMW for its small class sizes and engaged professors because we know we need personal interaction to learn, and it’s hard to maintain that engagement and contact online. This switch has been tough on students and professors alike.

We appreciate all the work that professors have put into reconfiguring their classes into an online format, as well as their willingness to discuss problems. However, this can be hard on students who aren’t comfortable reaching out to their professors about their mental health and personal experiences with these changes, but are struggling nonetheless. Compassion should extend to the students that have gone quiet and the students that are pretending like everything is fine in addition to the students that have actually reached out to share their situation and mental state.

On the other side, it really is a good idea to reach out to professors and other students for help. Social distancing does not mean you’re alone and amidst all this chaos, it can be reassuring to know that everyone is going through the same thing. People are willing and eager to give support during this time, and it will help us feel less alone even while social distancing. Professors are likely to be more lenient given the circumstances, and if an extension will greatly help your mental health, it never hurts to ask for one.

It’s undeniably hard to find positives in the midst of this pandemic, but one positive impact is that it’s forcing us to slow down. Take this time to reflect on everything that’s been going on in your life, catch up on sleep, take up a new hobby or start that project that you’ve been talking about for years. Redecorate your room, call your grandparents or other family members, binge watch Netflix and make delicious food. Make sure to get some fresh air and exercise daily, if you’re able to.

Most of all – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be productive. There are a lot of posts on social media showing beautiful, clean houses and wildly productive days. It’s perfectly fine to want to just stay in bed all day. You can use this extra time to get things done, but your first concern should be your mental health. For some, it helps to develop a schedule to follow it each day. Do what feels right and helps you to cope.

When this is all over, we are sure to appreciate the little things in life more. Who would’ve guessed how valuable grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend, having access to the gym, or picnicking with a large group of friends really is? The staff of the Blue & Gray Press encourages everyone to stay safe, find what cheers you up in this time of isolation, check in on your friends and reach out to others for help. We’ll get through this together.