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By Sydney Daniello, Programs Intern at Mental Health America

I think it’s safe to say that at this point, we’re all struggling a little (or a lot). I’m a senior in college and like most college students right now, my classes have been transitioned online for the remainder of the semester. And while the challenges of this transition may not be the biggest fish that the world has to fry right now, my hope is that I can at the very least let you know that you’re not alone in the struggles you’re experiencing as a result of this transition, and to maybe provide a few strategies to help you get by.

Here are a few of the challenges I think a lot of us can relate to right now, and my best suggestions for how to mitigate them:

Difficulty engaging with online material. I am finding it really hard to connect with the information I’m supposed to be learning in class now that everything's online. So far, my best advice on this is to participate as much as you can. That phrase “you get out what you put in” has never been truer. If you’re able to ask questions, make comments, and connect with others during class, it’s easier to stay focused and to retain the information being presented to you, and may even help you feel a little less isolated.

Struggling to pay attention. Whether you have ADHD like me, or are just suddenly finding it difficult to focus in this new online format, here are some tips to keep you from wandering too far off into space:

  • First of all, be understanding with yourself! This is a big adjustment for everyone, and your lack of focus is perfectly understandable and not your fault.
     
  • Record your lectures in some manner if you’re able. At least for me, this makes me feel less stressed out about missing something if I do lose focus for a minute…or ten.
     
  • Try doing something mindless while you listen to your lectures. Doing something that doesn’t take up too much attention, like doodling, playing with a small object (slime anyone?), or even eating a small snack can help stop me from losing focus entirely.

Lacking motivation. Almost all of the students I spoke to when I started writing this blog shared this feeling, and I know I certainly relate. Whatever the reason, if you’re struggling to get motivated, one way to combat it is by finding a routine that works for you. Here are  two good ways to kick-start your new normal:

  • Get dressed! Yeah, I know it sounds terrible to put on real pants when you’re just going to stay inside and no one is going see you below the neck anyway, but this would have been part of your routine if you were going to Real Life Classes, so it can really help to get you back in the “rise and grind” mindset.
     
  • Create a workspace. I fully recognize my privilege to be able to do this one. I am lucky enough to have been able to take over my stepbrother’s room (who now lives out of state). It’s been really helpful to have a space reserved for work, so I know when I enter that space, I have to try to be at the top of my game, and when I leave, I can go back to my regularly scheduled laziness.

The last tip I have for you is, I would argue, the most important: BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF AND OTHERS. This is a truly unprecedented time in history. We are in uncharted waters. It’s okay to mess up, to get frustrated, to be sad or angry, etc. It’s probably going to happen to all of us at some point. Do your best, but don’t push yourself too hard. Your physical and mental health are equally important and protecting them is the priority right now. Take breaks, practice self-care, express your feelings in whatever way you know how, reach out to your loved ones for support, and know that we WILL get through this.

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