Tea Time with Tagwa: Online classes should not come at the expense of your mental health

Illustration by Noelle Hepworth

Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor

Tea timers, was I the only one taken aback by midterm season these past two weeks? It feels like just yesterday I sat in front of my computer screen and received all my syllabi online.

Virtual learning has become the new norm for students across the nation. From elementary level to postgraduate, education has turned into a living room activity. While VCU has some in-person classes, a majority of students — including myself — are navigating the online world.

I won’t lie, the idea of online classes really didn’t seem that hard. All I had to do was log onto my online lecture and let my professor speak. I thought I’d read a textbook or two, but nothing too serious, seeing how we weren’t in person. 

I was wildly mistaken.

Online learning has proven to be more difficult and strenuous than in-person classes. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for not having to go anywhere for my 9 a.m. lecture. More importantly, I appreciate VCU’s effort to safely provide students with an education. I am not urging universities to reopen their classrooms, but I want to tell students that it’s OK to not be OK.

A major trouble I’ve had with remote learning is time management. Not a surprise. I’m not saying I was astronomically better at balancing deadlines when classes were in person, but I’m even worse now. Trying to navigate between Zoom and Google Hangouts, then weave my way through both Blackboard and Canvas has proven itself to be exhausting. 

I find myself struggling to be constantly at my computer. When everything is remote, life seems to have no change of pace. Eye straining has become the new normal for Americans everywhere.

While trying to keep up with the pandemic, classes, work and everything in between, we tend to neglect the most important thing: our mental health.

As college students, we struggle to give ourselves leeway. We ask ourselves, “What is so fatiguing about being home all day? Why would we need a ‘mental health day’ when we’re constantly in the house?” 

We forget to remind ourselves that just because the world stopped for a second, doesn’t mean our minds did. Our patience is challenged daily — and it has been for months — as we shift away from our regular life of freedom. Our routines changed without the regular walks to the busy library, crowded classrooms and restaurants. 

It is not the craziest thing in the world that you’re feeling the weight of it all on your back.

Being a student during a pandemic is a trying time. It requires an open mind, diligence and perseverance. However, it should never be a priority over your mental health. And that’s the tea.

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