Students, faculty and staff may be facing feelings of isolation and challenges with the recent changes that have occurred at St. Mary’s University and around the world due to the spread of COVID-19.  Adjusting to an online educational format often can make it more difficult to balance roles and responsibilities as students, family members, friends and employees.

Top 11 tips for wellness

Here are some simple tips and suggestions from the staff of the St. Mary’s Student Counseling Center for successfully managing this transition:

  1. Anchor yourself. To best deal with change, you need to be grounded, be real with yourself and find out what works best for you. This will be different for each individual.
  2. Limit the time you spend watching news about the COVID-19 pandemic and limit your exposure to credible sources. The St. Mary’s Emergency Notifications page consolidates information from credible sources such as the CDC, as well as state, county and city health organizations. The local news typically provides a quick summary of developments in your local area and the larger, global community.
  3. Maintain your daily schedule. Get up and get ready. Wake up at the same time each day, exercise, shower, dress, eat, brush your teeth and relocate to your new workspace at the appropriate time.
  4. Maintain good sleep hygiene. Go to bed at a reasonable time. Limit cellphone use and blue-light exposure. Limit caffeine intake after 5 p.m. Ensure that you are typically getting between six and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
  5. Develop a weekly schedule that follows your regular routine as much as possible including class, study time, meals, breaks, socializing with friends, family time and self-care.
  6. Ensure you have a good workspace to complete your online classes. Ideally, your workspace should be relatively private with minimal distractions and adequate space for a laptop computer and classroom materials, such as textbooks, paper and writing utensils.
  7. Allow a little extra time to log in and test your connection before attending class or other online appointments.
  8. If possible, attend live or listen to recorded classes at the scheduled time. Ask questions to clarify your understanding during live classes and note questions or difficult concepts to discuss with your professor or peers via established telecommunication channels (e.g., email or phone). 
  9. If you have free time in your schedule, consider some fun new options:
    • Start a new hobby.
    • Clean or sort something.
    • Spend some time outdoors (while maintaining a 6-foot social distance).
    • Try a new recipe in the kitchen.
    • Paint, color, write or draw.
    • Creat a new playlist.
    • Learn a new language.
    • Use your imagination.
  10. Reach out and stay in touch with classmates, friends and family you no longer see in person through telecommunication. Start or resume study groups in an online environment. Set up online interactions like movie dates (e.g. Netflix night), coffee dates, social hours and chat times for you to stay connected with others.
  11. Allow extra time for stress management and self-care. Utilize online tools to learn and practice relaxation skills, yoga and meditation. Calm and other relaxation and meditation apps are offering free services during this time.

You can find additional information, and self-help and self-care resources at Mental Health America.

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