College Student Anxiety and Loss During COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus, anxiety has risen across the world with college students constituting a large part of the affected population.

It’s very common for students to experience to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety when they go off to college. Various studies and numerous surveys have proven that college students are the most vulnerable population when it comes to mental health disorders. Over the past couple of decades, the number of students suffering from anxiety and depression has steadily risen.

This vulnerable group is even more at risk with the recent coronavirus outbreak. In fact, new research shows that college students are three times more stressed compared to before the outbreak. This article provides an in-depth look at how the global pandemic has heightened college student anxiety and how students can cope with the emotional, financial, and academic losses during this crisis.

Causes of College Student Anxiety

  1. Loss of Support Networks

With schools and campuses locked down for the foreseeable future, college students have been forced to return home. The unexpected change in their usual routines comes as a sudden shock. Feelings of loneliness and isolation get amplified as campus communities, school counselors, extracurricular activities and other key social resources needed to survive are no longer available. Active social lives become non-existent, outdoor hobbies and physical exercises fall by the wayside, and students feel disconnected from their friends and peers.

  1. Uncertainty

Coronavirus cases keep multiplying daily and there seems to be no end in sight for this pandemic. For college students, how school with resume is still unclear. School terms have been postponed, exams canceled, graduation ceremonies delayed, and the future seems to be in limbo. This unpredictability coupled with the lack of control over their situations adversely impacts the psychological health of college students.

  1. Financial Struggles

Students come from various socioeconomic backgrounds and for some, their on-campus or local jobs serve as their major source of livelihood. The loss of such jobs can result in a frightening sense of financial insecurity and anxiety. Likewise, living on campus guarantees access to healthy meals and safe accommodations.

  1. Online Learning Pitfalls

Virtually every school has switched to online learning for the remainder of the term. And from all indications, online learning is looking to be the future of education post-COVID19. But not everyone has access to technology. Students who don’t own a mobile device or have access to free or cheap Wi-Fi end up struggling academically.

Freshmen new to college courses and curriculum have had little time to adjust to college life before being plunged into online learning. Everything seems doubly strange and some might find it hard to cope.

Additionally, recent studies have shown that the internet might not be the perfect learning medium for college students. Increased screen time and prolonged use of the internet intensify feelings of anxiety and depression.

The internet has also become a major source of distraction and disheartening information. Students are exposed to news outlets, online forums, and social media conversations detailing the devastating impact of the virus. They get bombarded with all sorts of opinions and negative emotions, which most commonly are fear and panic.

  1. Inability to Access Teletherapy Services

Everything has moved online now, even counseling and therapy. Students without internet access are shortchanged once more. Some students prefer discussing their mental health challenges with their school counselors and might find it impossible to schedule remote appointments with them due to state licensing issues. In such emotionally and financially difficult times, it might even be harder for students to switch therapists.

Coping Strategies for College Students

  1. Don’t ignore or suppress these feelings

Accept the fact that you’re anxious, frustrated, depressed, or sad. And you have every right to be. Acceptance is the first step in dealing with anxiety and loss.

  1. Talk about it

This is not the time to keep silent and bottle up your emotions. Discuss your feelings with trusted friends or loved ones. Also keep your academic advisor and lecturers in the loop. If you can’t keep up with the coursework, request for additional time on assignments. Communication is key.

  1. Seek therapy

If talking openly about your feelings doesn’t help, then it might be time to get involved in counseling. Check to see if your university is offering virtual health support to students in your state. If yes, then take full advantage of it. Otherwise, explore to see which mental health service is covered by your insurance.

  1. Develop and maintain a routine.

The human system thrives on routines and habits. Get your body and brain back in sync by establishing and sticking to a daily routine. Go to bed on time, wake up early, schedule goals or tasks to be achieved on an hourly or daily basis.

  1. Get physical

Look for ways to engage in physical activities. Exercise regularly. If you can, go for a walk, run, ride a bicycle, and breathe in some fresh air.

  1. Stay connected

Don’t let feelings loneliness keep you isolated. Habitually keep in touch with your friends and extended family via video calls and chats.

  1. Learn how to take a break

There are times when you need to step back from it all: studies, social media, work, and even the news. Switch off your screens and just relax. Let your brain have some down time. You can even meditate or do a bit of yoga.

  1. Seek financial aid

Apply for federal relief plans such as student debt relief or stimulus checks. If you have valuable skills such as writing, blogging, graphic designing, or coding, you could engage in a bit of freelancing during your free time to get some extra income.

Anxiety and loss are real challenges being encountered by college students daily but incorporating these strategies will help greatly. Contact New Connections Counseling Center for support!

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