Planning During a Pandemic

About six months ago, nearly everyone experienced a change of plans in some way, shape, or form.  For many DePaul students, the plans of going to in person classes, sports practices, club meetings, and having outings with friends were no longer a possibility.  In fact, the quick, drastic change in and of itself may have been just as daunting as no longer being able to do all the things we are normally used to doing.  Going into autumn quarter, plans for a new school year also look different than they have during past years.   

In a Psychology Today articlewriter and psychotherapist, Bryan E. Robinson describes the connection between uncertainty and anxiety in the context of the current pandemic.  He explains that due to the way our brains are made to help us survive, any situation that gives indication of lack of certainty creates a feeling of stress.  The brain wants to keep us safe, meaning that if something unexpected happens, it makes it seem like more of a threat than it might actually be and causes us to question if we are able to safely get through it.  With changing plans and constantly questioning the certainty of the near future, it is easy to see how this consistent stress and anxiety can work its way into aspects of our everyday lives and begin to affect the quality of our daily living.  

This sense of unpredictability may be starting to spike as we reach back to school season as it can be hard to plan for the upcoming school year and even harder to think about the possibility of another plan being changed.  If you feel uncomfortable because of the possibility of plans changing, here are a few things that may be helpful: 

  • Focus on what you can control.  For some, having a predictable routine is helpful for feeling like they have a stable schedule.  This may look like creating consistent morning and night routines and taking breaks from schoolwork or technology around the same times every day. 
  • Find ways to get what you feel like you are missing from plan changes.  For example, the idea of taking online classes may work fine for some people when it comes to learning the material, but the social aspect of going to classes is what they miss.  If this is the case, it is always possible to contact classmates to set up study and discussion sessions via video chat.   
  • Take time for self-care.  Stress is stress.  Whether you are stressed out by the start of the school year being different from past school years or you feel like you are missing out on fun events, it is important to address your physical and emotional needs.  Dedicating time for self-care activities every single day can help with easing the stress that this uncertainty may bring.  It may help to work self-care practices into your daily schedule to ensure that you take time to do these practices and to give yourself another consistent thing to plan on. 
  • Talk to someone.  If you feel as though the negative emotions of the constant change of plans over the past six months has become too much for you to handle on your own, reach out to someone.  For some people, talking to a friend about their stress is helpful.  For others, it may be more beneficial to reach out to a therapist for guidance with adjusting unhelpful thinking patterns.  Do what you think is best for you!   

It goes without saying that this is a stressful time.  Beginning a new school year is stressful enough without a pandemic.  However, HPW wants to help support you and ease as much anxiety as possible.  Whether it be through 1:1 appointments or helping you find support that fits your needs, we want to do everything we can to reduce as much stress during this time as possible.  Be sure to connect with us via email, phone call, or social media.   

Take care, DePaul! 

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