As the seasons change, so does our mental health

Illustration by Marisa Straton

Monica Alarcon-Najarro, Contributing Writer

Unlike other universities, VCU announced that there would be no spring break for students this semester on Oct. 15. Now, students are battling both being in a pandemic and mental burnout from having only two reading days this semester that most used to catch up on schoolwork.

Finals are coming up, and the burnout is real. Finding time to not only finish my last projects but also make sure that the quality of my work stays up has been difficult to deal with when my brain has gotten zero breaks other than on the weekends. 

James Elias, a sophomore studying mass communications, is taking 18 credits this semester and is looking forward to the spring semester ending. He said he is “extremely burnt out” in an email.

“I lost motivation sometime around fall semester, to be honest,” Elias said. “I thought I would be able to adapt to the online learning environment, but I find it extremely challenging to stay engaged with most, if not all, of my classes.”

Similar to Elias, I have found myself getting distracted easily while attending class online. I am not looking forward to going to classes like I once was.

However, Elias has found the University Counseling Services as a way to cope with stress from school.

“It’s tough to find ways to destress from school because there are a lot of things I am either unwilling or unable to do because of the ongoing pandemic,” Elias said. “But I’ve been going to counseling through UCS, and I feel like that’s helped at least a little.”

As Elias said, it’s a lot harder now to find different ways to de-stress. The pandemic has limited students socially.

VCU offers mental health resources for students through the University Counseling Services and The Well. University Counseling Services provides group counseling and one-on-one counseling to help relieve mental stress from school.

The Well offers similar counseling services through virtual events, such as guided meditation sessions at 2:30 p.m. every Wednesday and Thursday at noon.

As I’ve stayed cooped up in my room, counting the weeks left until the semester is finally over, I hope that VCU learned that a spring break is an essential mental break for students. This mistake should be one that we learn from, even if it took a toll on the mental health of students this year.

Being stuck in a room all day, staring at a screen doing schoolwork can be stressful and detrimental to students’ mental health. Not only has this caused me to be burned out, but it has also made me extremely unmotivated to continue doing schoolwork.

Mary Barazanchi, a sophomore majoring in health and physical exercise sciences, said she has gotten more anxious by not being around people as much due to the pandemic.

“Just being in a room with people makes me less anxious because I get comfort by getting to know other peers or having study groups,” Barazanchi said in an email. “With the semester being online I have to put more effort to talk to people or place myself in safe social situations or using technology more to talk to people.”

It’s no shock that students, like Barazanchi, are feeling anxious being alone when there’s a campus filled with lively students. Among the student body, the fear of missing out is definitely present.

The lack of a spring break and the final weeks of the spring semester creeping up on students has caused a lack of willpower for students to finish off strong. Instead, we are inching bit by bit and crawling toward the finish line, barely making it.

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