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How to stay mentally healthy while learning remotely

by Chuck Gordon

Wingate students jumped into online learning yesterday as the spread of COVID-19 forced them off campus. For many Bulldogs, a new learning environment at what is already one of the most stressful times of the year could ratchet up the anxiety level.

Corinne Harris, the University’s director of counseling services, says there are many ways students can destress at home.

First, she says, it’s important for students who feel isolated or anxious to realize that they aren’t alone in that regard. “Recognizing that some level of anxiety or concern in a situation like this, where there’s a lot of questions and not a lot of answers, is normal,” Harris says.

She suggests “not putting pressure on yourself or feeling like something’s wrong with you” but instead “working to identify the things that help you to feel calm and balanced, what we would typically call your coping skills.”

A few tips from Harris for maintaining a healthy mental and emotional outlook while studying from home for an extended period:

  • Stay connected to friends or family.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get some exercise or at least fresh air every day.
  • Limit news consumption (Harris suggests no more than 30 minutes of coronavirus-related news a day).
  • Balance social-media use.

“Still do the things you do to take care of yourself day-to-day,” Harris says. “In situations like this, it’s harder to do because so much has changed.”

The Counseling Center is still open but, like most of the rest of the University, is operating remotely. Thus, they are taking no new patients on a long-term basis. If anyone is in need of immediate help, they can still contact to set up a meeting over the Zoom online-conferencing platform.

The Counseling Center is also exploring additional options to provide more support to students virtually and will be sending out more information soon.

Harris says that students who exhibited symptoms of anxiety and fear before the coronavirus should use the same strategies and coping skills they were already employing. Creating a daily routine is important, as is keeping in touch with others via group chats and online platforms such as Skype and FaceTime.

Harris recommends visiting Calm’s “Take a Deep Breath” page for music, meditations, stories and resources to help you relax. She also says that apps such as Stop.Think.Breathe, Aloe Bud, Sanvello, and Smiling Mind can be helpful.

For more information about managing your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, see the Wingate website.

March 24, 2020