For most University of Richmond students, this semester was short of normal. With some students completely remote and others on campus, it was a different experience compared to a traditional semester. This semester presented students with several difficulties. And, as a result, mental well-being was an important aspect for student success. Meditation, yoga, journaling and exercise are some of the ways students maintained their mental well-being throughout this not-so-normal semester.
Junior Sarah Murray described her disappointment in losing the opportunity to study abroad that many other students faced.
“I was supposed to be abroad, and not being abroad kind of sucks,” she said. “The adjustment from having all my schedules abroad to suddenly needing housing and registering for classes here was kind of a really drastic shift.”
Murray also said she had felt more isolated this semester and had less social interaction because she was living off campus.
But Murray noted one positive outcome: her academics.
“Teachers adapted their teaching styles, I think it’s really useful to have lectures recorded,” she said. Murray’s teachers have uploaded recorded lectures and PowerPoint slides, which has been particularly helpful to her, she said. This allows Murray to rewatch lectures, take more notes and review the material — reducing her stress, she said.
Junior Josh Higdon explained his ways of destressing during chaotic times.
“Every morning I journal and every night I meditate,” Higdon said. “I think as we’re going towards exams, with the already stressful time, it’s going to be really helpful.”
Higdon also noted the value of community.
“For me, making sure that I’m still talking with friends and my close network [is important],” he said. “The COVID-19 pandemic is already really isolating, so making sure that I have that support network will be very important.”
Senior Glenn Rose agreed that taking a break from the hectic requirements of everyday life is important.
“I’m a huge fan of meditating and really finding a space to just sit and relax and be present in the moment,” Rose said. “I think we get so caught up in everything we have to do, and I think just taking even five minutes a day and really being present for a moment really reduces my stress.”
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Other members of the UR community also commented on how UR students have been coping this semester. Similar to Higdon and Rose, Jamie Lynn Haskins, chaplain for spiritual life, emphasized the importance of taking time out of chaotic days to focus on mental wellbeing.
“First and foremost, I am incredibly proud of the UR community,” Haskins said. “I am proud that we were able to take care of each other by taking care of ourselves.”
Haskins recommended students establish routines that serve them well and create framing rituals that allow them to step into school mode. Whether those routines and rituals are meditation, journaling or setting intentions, students should start their days with purpose, she said.
“I really want to encourage students that even if they're at home they can reach out to the office of the chaplaincy, Westhampton and Richmond college deans [and] CAPS,” she said. “We are still here ready to offer whatever love and support we can, even if we’re not on campus together.”
Contact lifestyle writer Michelle Parente at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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