In this week’s blog, Possip intern and Vanderbilt University sophomore Destiny Dangerfield shares why routine has been important for her during COVID-19.
The Impact of COVID-19
When the coronavirus reached the United States this past spring, it changed life for everyone as they knew it. Colleges and universities required that students vacate their campuses prematurely, schools closed for spring break and never reopened, it seemed as if the entire world was put on pause. Understandably, such an abrupt change left many people, myself included, feeling lost and dejected. The days began to run together and our once active lives and bodies became stagnant. For many of us, the less we moved, the worse we felt, and the worse we felt, the less we moved, creating a continuous cycle.
This kind of trend took quite a toll on my mental health initially, especially while trying to finish my spring semester online. For the first few weeks of quarantine, I became sad and unmotivated, longing for the stimulation and encouragement I received from interacting with friends and family. I spoke regularly with a therapist during quarantine, virtually of course, and my key takeaway was that I should establish a routine to create some semblance of normalcy in the chaos of this pandemic.
As I attempted to establish a new daily routine at home, I began to find small joys in the little things. I would wake up every morning and go about my day as if I was at school.
- I would get out of my pajamas, and put on “real clothes.”
- I would go set up my computer and notebooks in any place that wasn’t my bedroom. It made me so happy to be doing any kind of consistent movement, even if it was only within my own home. Establishing a routine gave me a sense of control and certainty that counteracted the overwhelming uncertainty that I felt about COVID-19.
- I made sure to get daily sunlight – whether taking a walk or just sitting outside. Some of my co-workers also shared that taking walks or getting their kids outside were an important routine.
- I made sure to limit social media, especially as the content became more traumatizing and anxiety inducing – from police brutality to COVID updates
It seems that I wasn’t the only one who felt so strongly about routines. My professors expressed similar sentiments once we transitioned fully virtual. Of course, they were a lot more accommodating and empathetic about individual students’ home environments and mental health preservation, but their main goal was to operate their classes in a way that was as close as possible to what it used to be, and they frequently asked for our input on how they could help us adjust to the transition. Above all, they all repeatedly emphasized that they were here for us and that if we needed anything, they would happily help us.
Tips from Educators
Here are some of the routines from professors I found most helpful.
- At the start of each class, some would do mental check-ins (in the smaller ones). We would go around and say how we were feeling, and it was helpful just to know professors cared about how we were doing.
- For my bigger classes professors recorded lectures for those of us with connectivity or time-zone issues. It took the stress off (when my own wifi went out) knowing I wouldn’t be behind.
- Professors kept pre-existing deadlines the same, but were understanding/accommodating/empathetic when we asked for extensions or presented extenuating circumstances
Given that I am a college student, I have direct access to my professors and I am comfortable with communicating my needs to them. However, I recognize that not all students or parents have similar circumstances. Possip can be that direct line of communication from parents to teachers. Everyone deserves to have some semblance of normalcy regarding their educational experience, and Possip is the key to helping families achieve that.