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3 Helpful Ways You Can Adjust to the Upcoming School Year During a Pandemic

Whether you are entering your first year of high school, a senior in college, trade/speciality school or in graduate/professional school, the upcoming school year will be an adjustment for all. With an academic setting either completely virtual, partially in person, or smaller classes of masked faces, it is natural to feel the need to take a step back and assess your surroundings.

How will this set-up change the way I learn? Will I perform poorly? My house is so noisy, where will I go to concentrate? A few of these common fears may be circulating in your mind but implementing these 3 valuable tips will aid anyone in better handling what is in their control this school year amid vast uncertainty.

#1: Prioritize Your Boundaries

Just because people are your friends or family doesn’t mean you agree on the same philosophies and values. It may be tempting to abandon what makes you feel comfortable to hang out with friends in a large group, worrying about not only losing them but missing out on memories everyone else is making without you. Know what triggers your anxiety and where your boundaries lie and don’t let FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) or peer pressure overpower them. If the people in your life are unable to respect your feelings, that is a deeper issue itself.

This also goes along with classes that are either being held 100% in-person or as a hybrid option (which is where you can choose to either meet in person sometimes or be completely online). If after learning one of your courses is going to require physical meetings that make you uncomfortable, it may be a good idea to switch it out for a class that instead specifies it is fully digital. Also, if most of your classmates choose to meet in person for hybrid classes but you would prefer to remain digital, make the decision that brings you the most peace of mind. This is your learning experience, not anyone else's.

Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels

#2: Make More Time For Your Relationships

If you are someone that feels more comfortable taking a step back from meeting with friends as often in person, it is vital that you then put aside the time to maintain your friendships. Similar to a long-distance relationship, the key to being able to go for lengthy periods of time without seeing someone is to stay connected. One of best ways to stay connected is to take advantage of technology.

While it may not be the same as seeing a loved one in person, video chat (FaceTime, Zoom, Whatsapp and many others) and phone calls are a great way to stay in touch and check in on the important people in your life. Acting responsibly during the pandemic doesn’t mean having to lose lifelong friends or family because you are following health guidelines and practicing socially distant options.

#3: Make Sure to Stay Active

Lastly, staying active is highly recommended by experts (mental health, medical, fitness, etc) to cope with anxiety and/or depression. Considering the high levels of stress most people are facing due to the pandemic, add on worrying about school work and adjusting to the change of a digital setting, and students are bound to feel overwhelmed. It is important to emphasize self-care, something students (whether you are in high school, college, advanced education or trade school) tend to struggle with normally.

Setting aside the time to go for a walk in between classes or try out a new exercise routine in the comfort of your home is essential to release pent-up anxiety. Always keep in mind, nothing is worth depriving yourself of happiness and self-love. Making time for yourself shouldn’t be the first thing to get postponed.

Dr. George James (@GeorgeTalks), Chief Innovation Officer, Senior Staff Therapist & Supervisor at Council for Relationships, Assistant Professor for the Couple and Family Therapy Program at Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of George Talks LLC.

Jamie McClelland, is a senior at Villanova University, double majoring in English and Communications with a specialization in media production.

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