Tag Archives: mental health

10 Tips for a Smooth Transition from Online to In-person

We’ve all spent the last year glued to our screens, whether it’s trying to decipher what our professor is saying or scrolling through Tik Tok. In the midst of all the Zoom meetings, Discord chats, and Slack messages we have forgotten how to thrive in an in-person learning setting. So, here are ten tips on how to thrive during the transition from online to in-person learning, interaction, and life.

1. You need to calm down

After more than a year of spending time stuck at home with Tiktok being our only form of social interaction, it can be tempting to just say yes to every social invitation that comes our way. But, no matter what you do you cannot make up for the dumpster fire that was 2020, and acknowledging that is important. The pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives and that includes social interaction. It’s okay to want to stay in on a Friday night and binge-watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” you don’t need to force yourself to go out in the fear that you will regret it if there is another Lockdown. Understanding that we cannot make all our decisions based on the fear that the past will repeat itself will only benefit us in our post-pandemic life. 

2. Develop a routine

A big part of the anxiety that accompanies our transition back to in-person classes is ambiguity. Being able to have routines— even for the smallest parts of our lives— can help immensely. Whether it’s having a three-step morning routine that involves making your bed, putting on clothes, and making yourself look presentable for class, or an elaborate make-up routine, having one part of the day remain constant will help structure the rest of your day.

3. Get an alarm clock

It can be tempting to use your phone as an alarm but it’s also the reason you’re late every day. Not only is the alarm on your phone designed so that the snooze button is more prominent than the off one, but it also enables you to scroll through social media first thing in the morning. Having an actual alarm clock not only prevents you from mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed, but it also means you’re going to hit snooze a lot less. If you’re like me and are paranoid about not waking up on time, keeping the clock at the farthest end of the room will ensure that you wake up. 

4. Engage with your classes

Zoom university has made it easy to not engage with material during class and going back in-person seems especially daunting when you can’t whip out your phone and scroll through social media when your professor goes on a long and boring tangent. However, identifying aspects of each class that you enjoy, whether it’s the friends you have made in that class or your genuine interest in the subject, will make you dread it a lot less.

5. Treat yourself

Whether it’s getting Boba with friends, watching a movie, or gorging on a pint of ice-cream(I am definitely not speaking from personal experience), find a way to reward yourself at the end of the week. The treat doesn’t need to be expensive— it could even be dancing to Taylor Swift music in your room. These treats act as a reminder for what a great job you’re doing and also motivate you to get through the week.

6. Stay safe

We are still in the midst of a pandemic and following COVID guidelines are crucial for keeping yourself and your fellow Longhorns safe. Make sure you download the Protect Texas app and fill out your symptom survey daily as well as get tested weekly. Wearing a mask in classes may seem strange, but it’s the only thing stopping us from going back online.

7. Plan, plan and then plan some more

Now that we are in-person, having a daily planner is essential. Not only does planning your day the night before gives you peace of mind, but it also means you won’t accidentally forget a class or a meeting. Having a monthly planner as well will help you keep track of your assignment due dates. Google Calendar and Outlook are great online planners, but nothing beats pen and paper. 

8. Catch some ZZZs

Lack of sleep is overhyped in college. Just because Brad from your Econ class hasn’t slept since Tuesday and is feeling great doesn’t mean you should follow in his footsteps. Lack of sleep catches up on you when you least expect it and it makes you more prone to illness. With the endless stream of assignments, it can seem hard to get seven hours of sleep but remember those hours of sleep will prevent you from the embarrassment of being woken up by your professor in your eight a.m. class. 

9. Find your style

Now that pajamas are no longer the informal uniform of college students across the world, finding something to wear in the morning can seem foreign. But remember it’s also the perfect opportunity to play around with new styles and try out outfits that are cute from the shoulders down— now that you’re no longer a box on a screen.

10. You are not alone

Remember that you’re not the only one navigating this “new normal” and, yes, you will make mistakes but remember so will everyone else. We are all in this together (cue cheesy High School Musical music) and going back to in-person classes means we are moving forward away from the catastrophe that was the pandemic.

Featured image by Serena Rodriguez

“covid learning” could revolutionize school for students with anxiety at UT

Heart beating, palms sweating, stomach churning, intensifying fear: These are all symptoms of social anxiety. Socially anxious students may be avoiding these symptoms this semester with the aid of the current era of remote learning. 

“It feels like my body is frozen…(like) a bucket of water drops on you. I want to speak but I can’t.”

Claudia Juárez, UT Austin Sophomore

In the age of COVID-19, pre-recorded classes are used to keep students safe from the pandemic, but these classes could also benefit students with social anxiety. Pre-recorded classes can reduce or eliminate the triggers of social anxiety present in in-person classes. There is currently an online petition created by members of the UT student government to continue the offering of distanced learning for students with disabilities such as social anxiety even after COVID-19 has eased.

“I was having anxiety attacks my first day (of class) every time I went somewhere new,” said Mackenzie Ulam, president of the UT chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Approximately 12% of Americans will experience debilitating social anxiety defined by significant impairment in regular functioning during the course of their lives, the National Social Anxiety Center reports. 

The emergence of an anxiety disorder can occur at any age but often will surface during a person’s teens or 20s, the UT Student Affairs Division wrote on its website. This age range means students often experience the emergence of social anxiety during college, potentially impacting their learning experience.  

“(In class) I don’t… want to ask certain questions,” Juárez said. “‘Cause it’s like I go to UT, am I really going to ask this? Everyone’s going to think I’m dumb. Even the professor might think I’m dumb and call me out on it.”

The fear of being perceived as dumb is a common trait in those with social anxiety. This fear can be triggered by numerous scenarios. Triggers of social anxiety include: introducing yourself, “small talk” with classmates, asserting your needs with those in authority such as professors and answering or asking questions in a formal setting, reports the UT Student Affairs Division. 

“You’re having to deal with having to do two things at once: trying to learn the content and trying to work through…anxiety,” said Althea Woodruff, UT’s project coordinator for well-being in learning environments. “You’re basically having to do double or more of the work emotionally and academically.” 

Last semester, UT student government officials introduced a petition in coordination with disability justice advocates to ensure access to online material such as recorded lectures to aid students with social anxiety and other disabilities even after the pandemic eases.

Vinit Shah, UT’s student government chief of staff, said recorded lectures aid students because they cannot just ignore their anxiety. 

“There is no way to challenge yourself out of anxiety,” Shah said. “It’s like learning to swim. When professors say… ‘just get over it,’ it’s really insulting…it’s like expecting a baby to be an Olympic swimmer right off the bat.”

Students with social anxiety may already be eligible for certain accommodations through UT’s services for students with disabilities department. However, accommodations are decided on a case-by-case basis rather than having pre-created accommodation plans available. 

Students must go through a five-part plan to qualify for accommodations. This plan includes providing documentation of their disabilities in an approved format by the department, scheduling and attending an intake appointment with the department, completing multiple forms and signing multiple documents, reports the department on their website

Woodruff said that having recorded lectures available is the type of accessible accommodation that gives students much-needed flexibility. 

“It lets the students know that you actually care about them and you’re being empathetic to their situation,” Woodruff said. “You want to try to be as accommodating as you can to as many students as you can.”

Featured Image by Kara Fields

Apps & Extensions To help you with Zoom University

As we begin the first few weeks of Fall, it can be a difficult time to resume online classes. College is typically stressful, so being stuck in the closed confinements of a Zoom screen can be much worse. The tiring eyes, the awkward video lectures, and lack of Vitamin D, “the sunshine vitamin,” are many factors that can lead to procrastination and additional stress. Well, fortunately there are many apps and extensions that are extremely helpful at this time. From time management to studying, here’s some (FREE) resources that can assure a efficient and productive semester:

Photo by Lauren Breach

Time Management

Tide

Tide app is the epitome of relaxation and focus. It provides a timer for focus, naps, and mediation equipped with scenic backgrounds as well as natural, soothing sounds. 

Flat Tomato

This app not only shows stats of your study progress but also syncs with other devices. Similar to the famous pomodoro method, Flat Tomato provides intervals between working and taking a break, ensuring more productivity. 

Routinery

Routinery is as if you had a personal assistant in your back pocket, as it curates your own routines. It also includes stats/feedback of your habits and progress.

Photo by Lauren Breach

Notes

*Evernote , *Google Docs, *One Note, & Notion

Now, the wondrous world of note taking is so simplistic yet overwhelming that these four apps are very interchangeable. Although writing notes by hand is a powerful tool, these note resources are equally effective, depending on one’s aesthetic as well as one’s usual extension. 

If one prefers using google chrome, Google Docs is preferred while the same goes with Windows and One Note. Yet, if aesthetic and separating more notes/projects is more essential, Evernote & Notion are the perfect tools.

So you’re living alone…in the middle of a pandemic

It’s okay to feel lonely while we’re encouraged to isolate, but it can be used to our advantage. 

One of the most pivotal moments for teenagers-turned-young-adults is leaving home and beginning to live on your own. Whether it’s your first apartment, a campus dorm room, or even your first house, living by yourself offers a newfound sense of freedom in your life. 

However, loneliness takes a new meaning when you’re living alone for the first time in the middle of a pandemic. We used to only worry about meals we have to learn to cook or how to do our own laundry. Now however, the biggest issue to face is the natural feeling of isolation which comes from living alone and the need to stay inside. The biggest piece of advice to share is to not let the fear of living alone overwhelm you. 

At least for me, the routine I have found myself reliving every day is wake up, eat, sit at my desk for class, eat again, watch Netflix, and go to sleep. When I start to dwell on this boring pattern for long I begin to see my anxiety grow and the loneliness set in. Being in my first apartment this year, I have learned some things and have come to new realizations that could possibly help you fight off the feeling of isolation as well. 

Socialization is important in so many areas of our lives, especially for mental health. If you’re living with roommates, I challenge you to befriend them if you have not already and reach out to them if you need someone to be with. Having dinner together, cooking meals together, watching movies, or doing homework together could be simple ways to grow closer as roommates and hopefully flourish into friendship. However, if you don’t have roommates or don’t particularly get along with yours; don’t stress. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommates in order to not feel lonesome. Virtual socialization can be just as comforting and fun as being with someone in person. Contact friends you have from home or friends you have living in the same city as you and connect virtually through Facetime, Netflix Party, or even going to a park together while practicing safe social distancing and following healthy guidelines. Remember, everyone feels lonely. As a matter of fact, UT has a loneliness hotline on the CMCH website which can help you deal with the anxiety that comes from isolation. It is natural especially when living alone to feel lonely, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying your time with you. 

Living by yourself drives you to find yourself. I know it can be scary, but being alone has benefits as well. Loneliness can be a force used to encourage yourself to get your life together. Think of it this way: we have all the time in the world right now to focus on ourselves and come to terms with loneliness. So make the most of it. Make self-care important to you, and take time out of your days to do something for yourself. Sometimes when I feel lonely in my apartment I think, “what is something I could do to enjoy by myself?” By asking myself this question, I am learning more about who I am and becoming my own best friend. This leads me to switch up my routines or simply find new things I enjoy doing alone. One of my favorite new activities is buying candles for myself and lighting them in my room while I’m doing work or taking a bath. It is incredibly comforting to walk into your room and have it smell good. I asked a few friends what their favorite thing to do alone is and the common consensus is trying to be put together even though you’re not leaving your room. Cleaning your room or apartment can help you feel accomplished and comfortable in a huge way. Additionally, taking a shower, doing your hair, putting on some makeup, or dressing up cute can all be valid ways to make yourself happier and feel successful without leaving your home. Any small task or goal you set for yourself can make the biggest difference. Another friend who lived by herself for the entire summer said she found art as a wonderful escape and something that made her happy and less lonely. 

One of the most helpful tips I have received is the importance of decorating your own space. Copious amounts of cash is not a requirement to do this either. Put the things that you enjoy in your space and it will help with loneliness or feeling out of place. I’m sure the new bed you’re sleeping in doesn’t yet have that comforting feeling of your bed at home, but you will get there. Being in a cozy environment gives a certain sense of purpose that dims the feeling of being lonely. 

Lastly, I do want to encourage you to get outside if you can. My bedroom at my apartment has no windows, so I often feel low or discouraged throughout the day which leads to loneliness. Whenever I go outside however, I instantly feel better and more connected to the rest of the world. This can mean different things for whoever or wherever you are. Going to a nearby park and doing classwork, getting up and going on a walk in the morning around the place you live, or even taking a walk through campus are all good ideas to get you into the daylight. Being outside naturally boosts your energy levels and happiness. Free aromatherapy and a boosted immune system are also benefits of spending just 30 minutes a day outside. 

Remember to take everything at your own pace. Living alone is terrifying to some and with the climate of today’s world where we are encouraged to spend most of our time indoors, there is lots of room for growth and development in yourself. So yes, you need to learn how to cook, clean, do laundry, and set a routine for yourself, but the good thing is that you have all the time in the world to do it. Finding a groove that works for you takes time. If you feel extra isolated right now please don’t tear yourself apart trying to fix it. Small goals are a big help. Talk to friends, cook yourself your favorite meal, take a bath, paint a picture, or anything else that makes you happy with yourself. If you do feel extreme isolation or loneliness, never hesitate to reach out to someone. However, use this time of confinement and the feeling of aloneness to challenge yourself and learn things about yourself that you might not have seen before.

Dream with me: the day harry styles invented sleeping

 Via @AngiTaylorKISS

When I got to college, I noticed that you were either in tune with your mental health or you weren’t. With the mixture of new classes, a new campus and a completely new city while also not knowing anyone, life gets stressful. I quickly learned that keeping up with my mental health would be the best thing for me. I’m sure some of my college friends can agree. 

Throughout my first two years on campus and since the beginning of quarantine, I’ve been hearing a lot about the Calm app but I’ve never been one to believe in meditation or sleep tactics. What was the final push I needed to give it a try? Harry Styles. The Calm team decided it was a good idea to partner with the singer to create a bedtime story for their sleep category and I couldn’t agree with them more. 

Now, let me explain myself before the inevitable judgement begins. I’ve been a fan of Harry Styles ever since the very beginning so when I found out he was going to narrate a bedtime story for Calm, I was definitely not calm. His music is already therapy in itself so I couldn’t even imagine what a bedtime story would do.

    Via @nypost

The audio was released July 8th and I was frantically refreshing the page until it was available. I’m an honest woman so I would be lying if I told you I didn’t laugh at first when listening to the first few words in this ASMR-style bedtime story titled “Dream with Me.” It was a lot to take in. I just couldn’t picture Harry Styles sitting down, leaning into a mic and whisper-talking into it. Picture that. You can’t. For those of you who haven’t given it a listen, Harry takes you on a journey through multiple landscapes while describing the scene with his too-good British accent. From the stars to the valleys, you’ll go on a world tour in just 30 minutes. 

That night, I had actually wanted to get a good night sleep and was hoping this would help. Maybe even ditch the melatonin sitting on my bedside table. My sleep schedule has been completely thrown off guard, as I’m sure most of you can relate to. Now, I couldn’t tell you what he was saying or what the story was about but all I know is that whatever they did, it worked. I was out like a light within what felt like a few minutes. The half-an-hour mixture of ambient sounds paired with his slow, soothing voice allowed me to drift off into the best sleep I’ve had in weeks. I don’t want to say too much to where I spoil it for you but I obviously recommend listening. 

On another note, the audio has become somewhat of a meme on Twitter. Because of Harry’s accent, some of the words he pronounces just sound odd but in the best way possible. I’ll let you watch for yourself.

Harry isn’t the only celebrity that you can have read you to sleep. Our very own Matthew McConaughey has also narrated a bedtime story for those who would like to feel alright, alright alright. The Calm app also has several other advantages besides having celebrities narrate bedtime stories. Under the meditation tab, there’s a ‘7 Days of Calming Anxiety’ that I have been trying out to help meditate and clear my mind and I am honestly very surprised at how well my mind and body relax to it. If you were like me and didn’t believe it could help you, give it a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There are also specific categories you can pick to help guide your meditation. Besides that, you can take a look at the library of calming music they have. They have plenty of lo-fi beats for you to study to if you’re into that. 

You can get a subscription to the app here: https://www.calm.com

Happy listening!