The majority of college students in the United States have been learning virtually or adapted to a hybrid model for the past 15 months. The rise of vaccination levels and vaccine mandates on college campus means that universities will be closer to normalcy in the fall. Students will be returning to college campuses with new perspectives after facing the challenges of the pandemic. At First Workings we want our alumni community to feel emotionally prepared and comfortable returning to campus while recognizing the heightened stress you may feel related to the new changes. All change is difficult, even positive changes we are looking forward to. Read below for tips on how to navigate back to campus and be successful.
Importance of returning on a good foot
All students lost valuable time developing skills, meeting new people, gaining experience, and building a path for their future. The fall semester offers students the opportunity to kickstart their professional and academic journey back into action, but mental health should remain a priority. Many colleges are developing mental health plans to make the transition easier for students. As always, reach out to First Workings for support.
Establish health habits and boundaries that work for you
Be sure to schedule physical activity, healthy eating, a steady sleep routine, quality time with friends and family, and general stress reduction outside on your class and homework time. Be careful not to overextend yourself by taking on more responsibilities now that you are back on campus. Boundaries are crucial to maintain a healthy living environment for ourselves.
Strengthen, grow, and maintain support systems
Tap into your existing networks, even if it has been some time since you last connected! Utilize those in your network, including First Workings’ connections, your academic circles, coworkers, people involved in your extracurriculars, individuals from religious and spiritual spaces, and friends and family. We encourage you to also meet new people as the pandemic made it challenging to connect with others. Get involved in campus activities and meet likeminded people, who can have a positive impact on your life. You never know how people can help you mentally and what perspectives they can offer.
Recognize what you can control
We have all experienced a lack of control throughout the pandemic, as it altered the way we live our daily schedules. As you return to college, reflect on what is in your control about a particular situation and how that can improve your mental state. Recognizing what you can and cannot control can help you overcome anxiety.
You may be going to campus very different than when you first were on campus or in high school. We must accept the realties, while being kind to ourselves, that some things such as our jobs, relationships, friendships, and bodies have changed over the past 18 months. Once we accept reality, it will be easier to take control and make a plan for what we want our future to look like.
Do not be judgmental with yourself or others
Practice kindness with yourself and others, especially as you meet new people. Everyone is returning with different experiences from the pandemic and has various levels of comfort and anxiety. It can help to always approach people with compassion and curiosity. We aware of how your words and actions reflect onto people. We may feel excitement but also grief from the tragedies of the pandemic, that is normal! It’s okay to feel anxious and overwhelmed, so remember to be kind to yourself too!
Don’t wait to get help
Seek professional help immediately if you notice that your symptoms, emotions, and behaviors are affecting your academic performance, relationships, health, day to day activities, and overall concentration. Prevention is the best solution! Explore your school’s resources by identifying local services including campus counselor services, a pharmacy, and personal doctors.