One student’s experience and coping strategies during COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread, schools around the globe are shifting to online learning to slow the spread of the disease. Due to those unfortunate circumstances, Ryerson has also shifted all its services online. All of us are impacted in several ways by the changes, and during this time (more than ever) our focus will be put to a test. In a situation like this, it is normal to feel sad, worried, confused, scared or even angry. However, we are going through this together, and I would like to share my experiences and hopefully resonate with some of you.

As a very social and outgoing person, the thought of staying home and the uncertainty of the duration simply terrified me. The feelings of isolation and loneliness may be demotivating and draining. It may seem like your ‘normal’ life will never return. On top of that, school does not stop – the countless assignments, exams or other commitments add onto the existing pressure.

To be completely honest, the first few days were very tough on my mental health. The negative news surrounded me from every direction, and it seemed that there was lack of hope on the horizon. I decided I needed to make a difference and change how I was handling the situation. Aware of the final exams and projects approaching, I had to change my routine to be able to adapt to the circumstances and keep my priorities in check.

Here are some things I found very helpful:

Wake Up Early and Have a Routine

I cannot stress enough how much of a difference waking up early made. It gave me much more time to be productive during the day and complete my assignments. I started treating my mornings as if I had somewhere to go. I get ready, make a nutritious breakfast and then start doing things that are on my agenda. Establishing a new routine will help you be more productive.

Plan Out Your Week 

Time to Plan

I have begun planning my weeks ahead of time. I set my goals, reminders and deadlines in a portable planner, which keeps me more accountable and motivated. Even if you are someone that does not like planning, doing so during this period of change is essential when our focus is tested and we are surrounded by distractions. Having a clear plan with attainable goals will allocate your time accordingly and allow you to accomplish much more throughout the week.

Stay Connected 

Social distancing ≠ being unsociable. I am constantly using resources like FaceTime or Zoom to connect with my friends and family. It is certainly not the same, but it allows us to keep in touch with those around us. It may seem a little strange at times, but it is okay. For instance, since gyms are closed, I also have been using Zoom to work out with my friends, which motivates all of us. The possibilities of communication in today’s age are endless.

Practice Self-Care

This last tip is certainly the most important. I have been staying active by working out at home and going for walks to non-crowded areas, which helped me feel more connected to earth.

I have also started learning a completely new language using Duolingo during my free time. And because I am very passionate about cooking and baking, I have been trying new recipes from around the world. These things keep me grounded, give me motivation to keep going and most importantly, they distract me from the surrounding negativity.

During this time, it is completely understandable to feel a roller coaster of emotions. We are just humans that are new to the unprecedented circumstances. Be understanding, take care of your mental health, practice gratitude and do the things that make you happy. If you have trouble coping with the situation, Ryerson offers multiple resources.

On a positive note, this chaotic mess is teaching us to adapt and to learn in new ways that are closer to our authentic self. I hope we all learn from the situation, realize how precious life really is and truly appreciate our human experiences. Going to family gatherings will illuminate love, going to a concert will feel like a privilege, going to the grocery store with the shelves being fully stocked will feel wonderful, having an economy back up and thriving will feel euphoric, and being able to do the ‘regular things’ will feel so extraordinary.