How are you feeling? Anxious, worried, hopeful, bored, regretful, connected, sad, tired, at a loss, or low or no motivation? These are some of the common feelings that we have been hearing from students as they are struggling to adjust to this new and unknown circumstance of the stay-at-home order. The way we respond to a change or a trigger, such as COVID-19, is different for each individual, depending on many factors including our background, our support systems, and our biological make-up. Below is a list of possible reasons behind some feelings or emotions:
Low or No Motivation
Motivation is the one of the top concerns of our students as we are navigating through this unknown territory of on-line education. In-person classroom learning not only provides us the structures and accountability, but it also helps us to learn from each other through interaction and classroom discussions. Nothing can replace the experiential learning environment of the classroom. Therefore, the loss or lack of peer stimulation in life could rob our motivation for learning and could leave us with mixed emotions of guilt, regret or boredom.
Anxiety and Worry
Anxiety and worry is a very common response at a time such as this. For some of us, perhaps we are used to being a little anxious to start with, and situations like this could further trigger our anxiety. For others, the ambiguity, novelty, and unpredictability of a situation such as COVID-19 can naturally trigger anxiety.
At a Loss
You may feel at a loss for missing out an important part of your life, your friends, and the camaraderie of being on campus. Maybe you are graduating this year, and you had some big plans for your graduation and now you have found out that there won’t even be a commencement ceremony for your graduation. Or maybe you are a first-year student and just started adjusting to college life after a difficult transition from home. The loss of the potentials, of what could have happened or what you had, could be a potential factor of your sadness or depression.
Helpless or Easily Frustrated and Angry
You just started dating someone or connected with a special friend on campus, now because of having to leave campus for the stay-at-home order, each of you ended up in different states. Or you just started making the headway to that difficult class or the professor. Perhaps one of your classes that you enjoyed so much when you were on campus is not as responsive, online, as you had hoped for. For some of us, anger is one of the most familiar ways to behave when we are not sure of exactly how we are feeling or who or what to blame.
As time progresses, COVID-19 seems to be getting closer to us, some of you might have family members who are directly affected by this virus. Or you know a person who is directly or indirectly affected by this virus. You may be grieving a loss of someone you know or love. Some of you also might be grieving the loss of your daily routine, loss of the sense of safety and security, and the activities that were important to you.
Fear of the Unknown
A common definition of anxiety is "fear of the unknown". Since there are so many unknowns going on right now, it makes sense that our anxiety would get triggered. This is the first time for most of us, experiencing such distress, so none of us have any way to know how to deal with this and we are learning as we go. Also, the uncertainty of when would be the next time you will be able to get back on campus and resume your more normal life could bring fear in one’s emotions. The unpredictability of a new situation is one of many reasons that could trigger anxiety in many of us.
COVID-19 not only brought uncertainty in our physical health, but it also brought uncertainty in our financial life. Some of you may be dealing with the loss of jobs of your parents or even your own employment. The fear of financial uncertainty is a common reason for someone to feel anxious, worried, or depressed.
If you find yourself struggling with one or some of the challenges above, please know that you are not alone, we are in this together. Be kind to yourself, and take time to self reflect. Recognize and allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling, without being judgmental. For additional resources on how to deal with your situation or challenges, “CAPS virtual resources” in the “CAPS COVID-19 Support” page has a list of resources for you.