Mental Health in Quarantine

Three weeks after the start of online classes, students are still finding new ways to balance their school and social life. 

Students are trying to distribute their time between academics and leisure from home as part of their new adjustment to remote education.

Now in the third week since Texas A&M enforced all courses to be taken online, students will finish the remainder of their semester from their own residence. Many are attempting to find a balance to ensure they are completing their schoolwork while also finding enough time for themselves, as the latter can easily overtake the former.

Christina Chunda, electronic system engineering technology junior, said she is struggling to combine school and relaxation into the same environment.

“It [can] be harder to stay motivated with virtual classes because there are so many distractions around me,” Chunda said. “It is hard to keep doing school work when in a space that is usually meant to be my time relaxing.”

Alena Flores, biomedical sciences sophomore, said the lack of an academic atmosphere off-campus is also affecting her motivation.

“There’s no separation of work and home life in my small apartment, so I am always in a relaxed mode,” Flores said. “I play Animal Crossing way too much, [and] social media eats up a lot of my time.”

Although it may be preferable to do other things while at home, Chunda said she tries to maintain motivation with her coursework by choosing to reward herself when weekly goals have been accomplished.

“To resist [this] urge to take the day off, I make sure that I set aside one day of the week that I don’t do any work, and that is my ‘weekend,’” Chunda said. “This helps with creating a difference between the days, so they don’t all feel the same way.”

Additionally, Flores said she tries to ensure a balance by following the same schedule she would have normally had while at A&M.

“I try to keep a daily routine remnant of when my classes were not online,” Flores said. “I get ready in the morning, make sure to eat and do my class lectures when they would have been on campus.”

While students should still stay on top of their coursework, Annette Bergsagel, English freshman, said it is also essential to allot free time for oneself to preserve mental stamina.

“It’s important to avoid academic burnout,” Bergsagel said. “Working too hard can negatively affect our performance and overall health. I make sure to take breaks when I find myself staring at the screen for too long.”

Bergsagel said she gets up from her workspace after a period to actively spend her time doing something she enjoys.

“I like talking to my family and working out,” Bergsagel said. “They both help me take mental breaks.”

In between homework, Chunda said she has even included relaxing activities onto her to-do list.

“To make sure that I’m not overworked, I try to finish four tasks a day, [but] these [four] tasks might not all be school-related,” Chunda said. “[Some] might be working out or accomplishing something for myself.”

Chunda said she encourages students to find a balance between school and leisure by intentionally managing their time for both.

“My best advice is to look at your week and due dates and plan what you are going to do everyday of that week ahead of time. Then, using any extra time, do something for you,” Chunda said.

While students are trying to adjust, Flores said it is necessary for them to remember self-care is vital and should be prioritized even when at home.

“Take each day one day at a time,” Flores said. “[You] still need to apply [your]self to be successful, [but] it is important to put your mental health at the forefront of your concerns. Go easy on yourself, and take a break when needed.”

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