Midterm mental health

In an incredibly stressful year, make sure to take a step back and assess yourself

Michael Sicoli, Associate Opinion Editor

Normally around this time of year, students are nervous about doing well on their exams. They worry about the semester-long projects with suddenly approaching due dates. Maybe they take a look at their wallet and realize that week-to-week college life can be quite the expense.

Photo from Xavier Cullen

All of those factors are still constant in our lives today, but 2020 added many additional hurdles that trip us up. COVID-19 is the glaring one, of course, robbing us of friends and family. Social events were canceled and freedoms were restricted, and we find ourselves in just as bad a spot as we were several months ago.

The rising issue of climate change is incredibly obvious with California on fire once again. There’s a stressful election on the horizon with our country at the breaking point. Unemployment is still rampant and families are suffering as the country works through the economic depression COVID-19 has caused.

Bringing all of that up is not to add any more stress but rather to emphasize the importance of taking care of your mental health right now. There are a lot of things you can do to feel stable and healthy during what should be the most chaotic semester you will experience.

First things first: take inventory. Recognize what you can control and what you cannot. The things that are out of reach tend to be the most frustrating, but accepting the limitations around you allows for a greater vision and focus. This is incredibly difficult to do given that these limitations are often important or personal. Maybe you bombed a test, or perhaps you are upset that you played poorly in a game. Either way, do your best to realize that it’s in the past and that giving it your all is the best one can ask for.

Another good stress preventative measure is to keep a schedule. Everyone is prone to procrastination and you know what? That’s OK. It’s fine to allow yourself to go deeper and deeper into the water — just don’t let it rise above your head. Being on top of those due dates for the big projects handed out a month ago can go a long way toward aiding your mental health.

Those two tips were more preventative — here are some that help you deal with those stressful moments.

Everyone is told at some point or another that exercise is another great way to ease the stress in life. But at the same time, the gym can be an intimidating arena. Luckily for Quinnipiac University students, we happen to live next to a mountain. Hiking Sleeping Giant State Park has been an invaluable part of my college experience. It’s provided me with the perfect atmosphere to clear my head when I need to. It’s also a great bonding experience with friends, which creates some great memories.

According to a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University, “spending quality time in the great outdoors reduces stress, calms anxiety and can lead to a lower risk of depression.”

I am fully aware that a big cause of stress is a lack of time, whether it’s due to a sudden change in schedule or a lack of scheduling altogether. People think they don’t have time to go for a hike, hit the gym, take a walk. Well, you do — it might just take a shred of that aforementioned scheduling. Every student can find some time to do it, and I assure you that your mental health will thank you for it.

Your mental health should be absolutely paramount, especially throughout a stressful year like 2020 and even more so during midterms. Do what you can to take care of yourself — you deserve it.