As the Winter 2021 semester quickly approaches, with classes starting on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at Eastern Michigan University, Clinical Therapist Katie Holden gives her advice to students on how to deal with their anxieties, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a prevalent part of everyday life.
According to a survey study titled, "Effects of COVID-19 on College Students’ Mental Health in the United States,” published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, out of 195 students who participated in the survey, 71% stated that they saw an increase in their stress and anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samantha Maple, a student at Eastern Michigan University said that COVID-19 did impact her mental health.
“I wasn’t able to hang out with a lot of friends or I couldn’t go and do normal activities that I would normally do. I just sat in my room a lot and either did homework or watched Netflix, and sometimes it got a bit tiring," Maple said.
Clinical Therapist, Katie Holden, stated that students who are part of Generation Z desire more face to face interaction as opposed to previous generations.
“To have that [face to face interaction] stunted through COVID-19 in significant ways has been particularly challenging for this generation. In addition, Generation Z tends to display a drive for success and wealth, which has also been affected by COVID-19,” Holden said.
Her advice to students who feel isolated is to “connect, connect, connect.” Holden suggests finding a support system and nurturing.
“Seek outside help [therapy] as needed to help get you through, but also develop your tribe that you can responsibly stay connected to during this time," Holden said.
Holden further stated that it is important to utilize healthy coping skills such as “cognitive reframing and refocusing, relaxation, exercise, fresh air, and hope to help move you forward, reminding yourself that this [pandemic] won’t be forever.”
EMU student Alexis Ott also said that she feels more anxious now because she is constantly worried about contracting the COVID-19 virus.
In the same study, out of the 195 participating students, 177 confirmed, “that COVID-19 increased the level of fear and worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones.”
Holden advises students who have these worries to clear their minds and make space for the worry.
“See it, normalize it, don’t try and push it away. It can be like a ball in the water. The more you force yourself to push it under, the more it wants to pop back up,” Holden said.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and transition to online learning, the Effects of COVID-19 on College Students’ Mental Health in the United States study also indicated that out of 159 students, 8% confirmed that they were less motivated to learn and they found themselves procrastinating more often.
Maple shared with The Echo that having online classes wasn’t as motivating as being in the classroom.
“I would push things off until the last minute because I was just always at home,” Maple said.
Holden advised students to take time to notice how they are feeling to see what is impacting their motivation and to implement boundaries.
“One example might be to avoid doing online classes in bed while still being in your pajamas. Act as if you have a place to be, get up, take a shower, and do your work from your table, if possible,“ Holden said.
With businesses shut down all across Michigan and with students facing another unpredictable semester, Holden reminded students that they are not alone and that there is a community of people around them.
“We don’t know what will be, so try to connect with what is . . . focus on the things that anchor you, that bring you hope and security, don’t neglect those. As well, remember your strengths, you’ve got loads of it,“ Holden said.