Just yesterday my school switched to online courses and remote instruction due to COVID-19. I immediately was hit with a bunch of questions and wondered what this would mean for my level of education, my living situation, my grades, my friends and family, and everything else that I’m sure you’ve already imagined. Colleges around me were also switching to online schooling for the next month and some colleges are even shutting down for the rest of the year. I saw others around me start to panic and wonder what they were going to do with the situation that has been given to them.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, scared, or lost about what to do with your situation, you are not the only one. I compiled a list of ten things that I have personally done to ensure that my goals and my mental health would not be pushed aside due to this unexpected event. We will get through this together. ❤
1. Find a Safe Place
It is always important to make sure that your basic needs are being met. One cannot learn and thrive in a situation if they do not feel safe. Find a place that brings you comfort and that is quiet so that you can build your new learning environment. Whether this is a desk you have in your basement, an office area, your dorm, or your room at home, make sure that you have a place that you are comfortable in and that makes you happy.
Since my university is allowing students to go home during the suspension of face-to-face instruction, a lot of my peers are trying to figure out whether they should stay on campus or go home. The best suggestion I have on making this decision is to talk to a parent or guardian to see what they think about the situation at hand.
2. Take a Day to Organize and Clean
Your living environment is a good representation of how you are feeling inside. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you don’t want your environment to be overwhelming. Take a day or even a couple of hours to straighten and organize the safe place you have chosen. Make it your own. This does not have to be a stressful event. Put on your favorite music and create a living space you love and that feels like home. Reminder: Make sure that you have a desk to work at and keep your bed for sleeping only. This will help you stay on track when you have to get your schoolwork done.
3. Map Out Your Habits
To me, this is one of the most important steps out of the ten. When unexpected events happen in our lives, we are more likely to fall out of our good habits and routines. We get so overwhelmed by all that is happening that we just stop everything that we were doing. This is normal, but our goal is to figure out what habits we need to maintain in order to feel as if nothing has changed within our daily schedule.
“Habits are, simply, reliable solutions to reoccurring problems in our environment.” –James Clear
To efficiently map out our habits to ensure that we are heading down the correct path, we have to start with a little self-reflection.
The first thing you should do is answer the following: I want to become the type of person who… After you fill that out, ask yourself why?
Once you have established the type of person you want to become and why, ask yourself or write down what the problem is. Why am I not currently that type of person?
Next, create a system on how you can become that person.
Lastly, name obvious and easy habits that will help you with the system you created.
Example of My Personal Habit Map Out:
I want to be the type of person who takes care of myself.
Why: I cannot take care of others if I am not able to take care of myself. I want to show up for myself and bring love into my life.
The problem: I am always tired which leads me to eat bad, to not work out, and to not get my work done which = stress.
System: Go to bed at 11-12 every night (at least 8 hours of sleep), keep a water bottle with me at all times, and take my medicine when I wake up.
Habits: Set an alarm on my phone for 11 to start to get ready for bed, use my favorite water bottle so that I feel rewarded to use it and always keep it in sight, and keep my medicine on my nightstand so I see it when I wake up.
This may seem like a lot but I promise it will make you feel more structured and like yourself again. I only gave myself three habits to work on so that I didn’t feel overwhelmed and defeated. You’ve got this.
4. Start Using Google Calendar or a Journal and Check Your Email Often
If you weren’t very organized before this may be the time to start. When you are switching to hearing about your assignments through your email and your school’s preferred system (we use Canvas for our assignments), it can be hard to remember when things are due at what time and who said what. Personally, I use a journal to sketch out a monthly calendar, a weekly calendar, and to create lists of the things I need to get done that day. Not only can you use your journal for organizational purposes but to write down any sort of feelings you are having. This is very good for stress and anxiety management.
In my monthly calendar, I write down when events are happening or future due dates. For my weekly calendar, I write down when assignments are due for that week and what my daily homework assignments are. My To-Do lists are anything and everything I have to do for that day.
Also, during this time it is extremely important to check your email at least twice a day. Whenever you receive a class assignment from your email, make sure you write it down immediately so that you won’t forget about it later on.
5. Create Your Own School Schedule and Routine
Since you no longer have to worry about waking up early for classes, you get to be the determining factor on when you want your day to start. This is a time to figure out what routine works best for you. This should be exciting! You now get to manage your own time and accommodate your needs. You can write your new schedule in your journal or on another piece of paper and hang it up somewhere in your safe place. If you don’t know where to start, start with picking a reasonable time to wake up in the morning that allows you to get enough sleep and to get your work done with enough time in your day. Lastly, make sure you are eating at least twice a day. Your health still matters. ❤
6. Dress For Success
This is one that my mom told me that her dad always used to do when he was working from home. Get ready for your day as if you were going to work. Dress up for yourself. You will feel more motivated to do your work when you feel prepared and look prepared on the outside. It will give you the confidence and the routine that you need to feel ready to knock out the tasks of your day. When we are doing lots of work in our PJs or sweatpants, we feel lazy or like we have nothing to do today. It’s the same thing as keeping your bed for sleeping; keep your PJs for sleeping.
7. Add in Things YOU Enjoy!
This is a great one when it comes to keeping in touch with your mental health. School alone can be overwhelming and sometimes the thought of getting through your day of work will make you unmotivated. So… Reward yourself! Plan into your day things you enjoy doing. This can be anything from doing yoga, playing video games, crafting, going on social media, reading a book, to something that brings you joy. I like to schedule times to do yoga and sing my favorite songs because they make me feel fulfilled and like myself again.
On the other end of the spectrum, I analyzed the things I didn’t like to do and thought about how I could make them more enjoyable. For example, I HATE mornings. I would sleep all day long if I had the choice. So now, I play music really loud in the morning to make it fun. I love dancing and singing so I incorporated it into my morning.
8. Stay Connected to Family and Friends
Throughout all of the chaos, it is important to remember the people who care about you. Make sure you are making time to hang out with the people you care about not only for them but for yourself. Since we aren’t going to classes anymore, it can sometimes be hard to not see the people you were used to seeing every day. Even if you feel that you are better off alone, try and talk to at least one person face-to-face. Humans need interactions with others. It’s how we stay happy. (: In the cases that you can’t see a friend or family member in person, call or video call someone close to you so that you can check up on each other and to remind you that you are loved.
9. Get Out of the House (if it is safe)
None of us want to be trapped inside all day so, don’t! (if it is safe to leave). Go for walks outside with a friend or by yourself when you are feeling too enclosed. Especially with Springtime hitting and the weather is getting nicer, we are able to go outside and enjoy the sun and slight breezes of the day. If you are unable to go outside, then open up the windows in your safe place. This is actually recommended to do a couple of times throughout the day to clear out the room and to release germs.
10. Know That Everything Will Be Okay.
With everything that is going on, know that you will be able to make it through. This is only a temporary situation. Online schooling may seem stressful at first but like anything when you do it consistently, it will become more normal than it is in the beginning. Know that you are not alone, that you are loved, and that you do, in fact, have people there for you even if there is distance or it doesn’t feel that way.
Lastly, the most important thing right now is you. At the end of the day, your safety is all that matters.
I love you all and I hope that you stay healthy and safe.
I am an eighteen year old who wants to blog for the teenage girls.