I start my mornings repeating a torturous loop: I wake up at 9 a.m., I check my emails, I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. I make my bed and walk downstairs to make my Café Bustelo.
The rest of the day depends on what my schedule is for the given semester, but either way I dread being in front of my computer for the long hours of the day.
The fact is that we are all about to experience exactly one year of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been many interesting ways this year has impacted my personality and mental health; I am sure other people have noticed this within themselves too too.
The first is that I have never experienced such high levels of stress and anxiety. Most college students can agree. A study surveyed 2,500 students from seven universities across the United States last spring and “about 85 percent of the students surveyed experienced high to moderate levels of distress.”
My high levels of stress are from having so many deadlines. My brain has a hard time adjusting to the fact that my bedroom, which is meant for sleep and relaxation, is now my new work environment. Before the pandemic, this was never an issue because I was able to do work somewhere else, away from where I unwind.
My anxiety has also heightened from watching the news about the pandemic.. Every time I read about the new cases on and off campus, I get anxious to even step outside. Although this is inevitable, it plays a large role into how my mental health stands today.
Another thing I have noticed is how I stopped being physically active. Before the pandemic, I was thriving and finally able to have a flexible schedule where I could end my day by going to the gym.
I am so exhausted from being on my computer that I rather cook as a hobby or just take a nap.
When I was physically active, I was much better at managing stress and getting a good night’s rest. Doctors have proven that regular exercise can make one “feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories and feel more relaxed and positive.”
Although gyms are open, and I could go if I wanted to, I am held back by my fear of catching COVID-19. I also have just lost motivation and with the bit of energy I have, I try to save it up for my assignments.
Lastly, even the connections I had with people have been impacted by the pandemic. I consider myself an extrovert who enjoys talking and meeting with people. Being inside for so long practicing social distancing and only seeing my housemates, has been a tough experience.
We all have felt the effects of getting “tired of each other,” and we do not take it personally. I think it makes sense for us extroverts to feel stuck with so much time, and not much to do.
As I approach this one-year anniversary of COVID-19, I am grateful for the time to reflect and analyze my past traumas. I also have become more self aware of situations in life.
However, I miss going out without a mask or feeling less on edge all the time. I miss the gym and feeling energy throughout the day.
I miss seeing humans have fun.