Fall Semester Anxiety? You’re Not Alone.
By Aspasia Hotzoglou, P.h.D.
A few months ago it might have been hard to imagine that your semester would include home or dorm quarantines, new campus rules, masks, and social distancing. But now that you are here, there are ways to make the most of this semester. Whether your semester is partially virtual or fully virtual, living at home or on campus, this semester may feel more emotionally trying to you. You might find yourself worrying more frequently and feeling lonely. The following are some tips on how to cope with your upcoming semester in a Covid-19 impacted world.
Some college campuses have reopened for hybrid learning models with students opting to live on campus. Colleges are hoping to remain open as long as it is safe to do so. Understandably, the unpredictability of the next few months may be stressful to deal with. Consider the pros and cons of deciding to live on campus or participating in a distance learning model. Your decision does not have to match that of your friends. Plan for what an in-person semester might look like for you and for what returning home might look like. Talk to your family about an action plan you can take if you ultimately do not feel safe on campus.
Structure the Day
No matter where you are spending this semester getting into a routine always makes sense. Do your best to wake up and go to bed around the same time each day. Keep consistent meal times and try to have at least one meal with someone who is sharing the same space as you. Carve out study hours during your week and try to use the same workspace. Plan for fun and leisure activities on weekends.
Social distance rules were developed so you could return to campus! Keep up with campus Covid-19 safety rules. Do your best to have social interactions outdoors and to maintain distance from friends. If you are going to see friends indoors be sure to wear masks. Wearing a mask in social situations increases the chance that you can continue to see your friends.
Be Kind to Your Body
Healthy eating, hydrating, regular exercise, and getting plentiful sleep help to boost immunity and mood! Be sure to avoid things like smoking, excessive drinking, and overeating which can leave you physically vulnerable and lead to depressed and anxious moods. Do your best to spend 15-20 minutes outside daily.
Focus on What You Can Control
Several things may feel out of your control this semester. For example whether or not your campus stays open, or if you will be able to complete an internship. The more you think about the areas that are out of your control, the more stressed and worried you will feel. Think of an area that you can get some control back. For example how you use your free time, how often you reach out to friends, your study schedule, and controlling media consumption.
Reach Out for Help
Are you anxious most of the time? Are you having trouble sleeping, eating, and/or concentrating? These might be signs that your emotional functioning is getting in the way of daily living and it might be time to seek help. Contact campus student counseling services, or consider setting up an appointment with a licensed professional.
Aspasia Hotzolgou, Ph.D., Dr. Aspasia Hotzoglou is a New York state licensed psychologist. She practices full-time at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy and is currently providing telehealth sessions over zoom. She is trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and works with young adult and adult aged clients. Dr. Hotzoglou specializes in helping individuals suffering from anxiety and mood disorders, trauma, and anger-related issues. Check out Dr. Hotzoglou’s complete bio here.