By Jacqueline Bove G’20, clinical mental health counseling
Many students are separated from their classmates due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not being able to see classmates and professors can contribute to feelings of isolation and social distress. However, there are many coping skills and strategies that can be used to help students manage COVID-19 stressors.
Take care of yourself
Some examples of coping skills and strategies include distraction, grounding/self-soothing strategies, mindfulness activities, and using positive self-statements, as well as establishing a self-care routine. Give one (or more) of the following a try!
- Create a photo album of your favorite college memories.
- Share funny stories or memories with your friends virtually.
- Make a playlist of songs that remind you of your college experience.
- Take a mental vacation — imagine your favorite place and think about what friends you would want to be there with you. Can this become a planned trip to look forward to?
- Try a new baking recipe and share it with your friends.
- Engage in a creative outline – drawing, painting, writing, singing, dancing, creating.
- Relax your body from your head to your toes (e.g., deep breathing exercises, body scan, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga exercises).
- Self-compassion — ask yourself, what advice would I give my best friend right now?
- Contribute to your community — make face masks and donate them, donate food to local pantries, check-in with elderly neighbors, support local businesses (e.g., buy gift cards, like pages on social media, share their posts, and write positive reviews).
- Mindfully listen to music, take a mindful walk, or participate in a mindful eating exercise.
- Draw or paint a picture of your favorite spot on campus.
- Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking; consider keeping a gratitude journal and write down 3 things you are grateful for daily.
- Learn a new foreign language through Rosetta Stone (free access to Rosetta Stone for students for the next three months).
- Catch up on reading all the books that you’ve been wanting to read — or find the perfect self-help book to read.
- Take advantage of your free time and tidy up your living space.
- Try a free app that provides mindful exercises like Headspace, Breathe, or Calm.
Stay in touch
Social connectedness with classmates is another way to cope with separation, social distress, and isolation related to COVID-19. One of the best ways to stay connected with your classmates and college is through continual communication with colleagues, coaches, academic advisors, and department professors. After graduation, it is highly recommended that students stay up-to-date with their Saint Rose emails. That way they do not miss out on reading college newsletters, updates, and upcoming alumni and campus events.
Students should also connect with the Saint Rose Alumni Association and social media groups/pages pertaining to Saint Rose. This allows students the opportunity to stay connected with colleagues post-graduation and maintain relationships. Through the Alumni Association, students will also have opportunities to establish new relationships by attending local and regional events.
Creative ways to stay connected:
- Schedule a time each day to connect with friends through a phone or video call.
- Enjoy a virtual meal with friends, or happy hour.
- Write letters to friends – snail mail is the best mail!
- Plan virtual social gatherings with friends such as a book club, dance party, cooking/baking event, trivia night, Netflix party, or a video game tournament.
- Find a Quarantine Buddy.
- Engage in live streams — from your favorite yoga studio, or artists and invite friends to join.
- Enroll in webinars, classes, or online tutorials together with friends.
- Go on a virtual museum or zoo tour together.
- Start a blog, TikTok account, or an Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn page and invite friends to follow.
- Try a home workout together.
- Send funny pictures and text messages to make your friends laugh!
- Join or create a meetup.com group to connect with classmates and community members that have a shared interest.
In addition, check out the great JED resources on the Counseling Center’s page, which include lots of resources and tips for taking care of your mental and physical health, supporting and connecting with friends and family, using mindfulness techniques, making big transitions like high school to college or college to career, and many more.
Remember — just because you finished classes and final exams does not mean the connection is over. Keep in touch with your classmates and continue to build long-lasting relationships.
We’re all in this together, and the class of 2020 will be remembered. At the Counseling Center, we are so proud of this graduating class and we cannot wait to see what the future has in store for you. #Rosebuds
Jacqueline Bove G’20 recently completed her M.S.Ed. in clinical mental health counseling at Saint Rose and worked as a graduate assistant for the Saint Rose Counseling Center 2019-2020. This blog post was taken from her presentation, “How to Cope with Being Separated from Your Classmates,” which she presented in collaboration with the Office of Student Development to the Senior Town Hall meeting in May 2020.