The COVID-19 has caused one of the largest disruptions of education in history, impacting an unprecedented number of learners worldwide. The pandemic has changed everyone’s lives and how we interact. Social distancing guidelines forced many students to endure the rapid transition to online studies which caused many stressful situations. All these changes and uncertainty about a new disease and what will happen in the future can be very stressful and cause strong emotions. Here are 9 recommendations prepared by our psychologist Eimantas to help you manage the stress and anxiety through this semester:
1. Limit news intake about COVID-19. If you noticed that news about COVID-19 is causing you a lot of stress, it is crucial to find a balance in this situation. Seek information updates at specific times during the day and do so no more than 2 times a day but not before bedtime. This way you will stay informed about the current situation and avoid an excessive flow of information that can cause you stress and anxiety.
2. Stay informed by using reliable sources. Try to find reliable sources, rely on facts, not rumors and interpretations. Gather information from the WHO website and local health authority platforms in order to help you distinguish facts from rumors. Facts can help you to minimize fears.
3. Keep up daily routines. Try to keep up your regular daily schedule and routines and make changes only when they are necessary. Maintaining regular schedules and routines helps to create a sense of normalcy, which can promote feelings of security and is a good way to keep anxiety at bay.
4. Maintain your social networks. Even if you are abroad it does not mean that you have to completely isolate yourself from others. Use telephone, e-mail, social media or video conference to stay in touch. Talking to people you trust can help to share your feelings, feel more connected and less alone.
5. Write a journal. Multiple studies demonstrate that practice of keeping a diary or journal can have positive effect on one’s health, happiness and ability to manage stress. One of the most effective ways to reduce stress with journaling is to write in detail about feelings and thoughts related to stressful events. It can help to clarify thoughts and feelings related to stressful event, thereby gaining valuable knowledge about yourself. It is also a good problem-solving tool and can help to come up with solutions in difficult situation. You can also keep a gratitude journal where you can write down all the things in life that you’re grateful for. It can help to adapt more positive mindset and to have a better outlook when you face a difficulty.
6. Look after your physical health. Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Therefore, it is essential to take care of your body. Take breaks to rest throughout the day. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced food, exercise regularly, avoid alcohol and drugs. Be sure to get enough sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, make sure you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine and maintain consistent sleeping schedule.
7. Explore apps that can benefit mental health. There are many free apps that can help you learn how to meditate, breathe and manage stress and anxiety. This includes such apps like: Calm, Breath ball, Stop, Breathe & Think, Sanvello.
8. Take time to relax. Relaxation is a big part of that self-care and can help rejuvenate your brain and body. Try to find time for yourself everyday where you can engage in activities that help you to relax. You can such activities as reading, drawing, doing yoga, meditating, doing breathing exercises. You can try this simple mindfulness exercise next time you are trying to relax:
• Get comfortable. Relax your jaw and drop your shoulders.
• Breathe deeply and count your breaths. Inhale on 1, exhale on 2, inhale on 3. When you get to 10, start over.
• When your mind wanders, bring your focus back to your breathing.
9. Seek help. If you are unable to cope with stress and feel as if the stress is affecting how you function every day do not be afraid to seek professional help.
Find contacts of KTU psychologists here