For Arli Necowitz, the pandemic started out as a reprieve from her busy schedule because her three campus jobs were paused when Temple University shut down last March.
But as time went on, Necowitz, a senior psychology major and student assistant at Temple’s Psychological Services Center, noticed her mental health decline due to isolation and missed experiences.
“I miss going to class and interacting with my classmates, I miss going into the Owl Ambassador office and laughing with my coworkers,” Necowitz wrote in an email to The Temple News. “It’s the little things that I miss terribly.”
Fifty-one percent of college students considered stopping their education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Lumina-Gallup study conducted in September and October 2020.
Because college students are experiencing a rise in stress during the pandemic, it is important for them to use positive coping mechanisms, said Dr. Steven Hulcher, coordinator for the Resiliency Resource Center at Tuttleman Counseling Services.
Temple students have been coping with burnout during the pandemic by staying connected with loved ones, exercising and journaling.
“I think the pandemic, now, has just had a tremendous impact obviously, people feel much more lonely and cut off,” Hulcher said. “Motivation is getting to be more of an issue as this thing kind of continues.”
Positive coping mechanisms can include getting enough exercise, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep and taking a break from stressful projects or events, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Necowitz deals with her isolation by talking to a friend, calling a family member or grabbing a socially distanced lunch with someone, she said.
“Getting away from the stressful situations in my life and talking to the people I love really grounds me,” Necowitz added.
Adina Rom, a sophomore speech, language and hearing science major and member of Active Minds TU, is worried about the future and school.
“The transition to online school was difficult early on because it was a very sudden adjustment,” Rom wrote in an email to The Temple News. “I usually commuted to school, so the online aspect gave me more time to participate in more extracurricular activities and have more free time. I like the convenience of online classes, but the burnout from school and the social isolation becomes a challenge over time,”
To cope with daily stress from school, Rom takes walks, listens to music and keeps a journal so she can work through her negative emotions.
“Sometimes I set a timer and write whatever comes to mind. I journal on good days as well, so I can look back on them later,” Rom wrote.
Since spring break was replaced by two wellness days to limit student travel, Rom has struggled with burnout from school. She copes by taking a break from school work after 10 p.m. and finding time for herself each weekend, she wrote.
Too much time on social media contributes to Rom’s burnout because she is spending more time inside due to the pandemic, she wrote.
“Pandemic fatigue comes in waves,” Rom wrote. “I typically do a digital detox to give myself a break from social media. I like to spend time with my family and take socially distant walks with friends. The only way to deal with pandemic fatigue is to focus on the positives.”
Necowitz also finds walking helps take her mind off stressful subjects and gives her peace of mind to avoid burnout, she wrote.
“Being outside and in nature has really helped me stay grounded,” Necowitz wrote. “Hikes, walks, bike rides, picnics, et cetera, are such a great way to get my body moving, to enjoy the fresh air, and to step away from the plethora of screens I am constantly using now that we find ourselves in an online world.”
Taking walks is part of mindfulness, a coping strategy that focuses the person on the present moment, said Janie Egan, the mental well-being coordinator at the Wellness Resource Center.
Mindfulness and journaling are helpful coping mechanisms, but simple daily self-care tasks, like getting enough sleep and taking time to eat a meal, are also essential, Egan said.
Necowitz keeps a tight schedule to make sure that she gets her work done and has time for herself afterward.
“I give myself a certain amount of time to get my school and work obligations completed and then I go do other things that bring me balance and joy,” Necowitz wrote. “I make it a point to schedule in this self-care and social time so I have no excuse.”
It is important to maintain perspective and recognize that the pandemic, and whatever stress a student may be feeling, is temporary, Hulcher said.
“We will come out the other side of this,” he added.