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By Margaret Adams

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged these last two years has taken a toll on everyone. Students particularly took it hard when class became online, never looking away from the screen, and not being on campus with friends to help regulate how much work is being done. I personally found myself doing school work from 9 am – 10 pm. Not to mention the added stress of not being able to see friends and authority-encouragement to stay inside. 

Giving yourself a break this summer can help decrease the chance of your body suffering the effects of chronic stress. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is “the physiological or psychological response to a prolonged internal or external stressful event (i.e., a stressor).” The effects of chronic stress can be present even without the stressor, as the feelings and emotions left over from that stress can remain for a long time. 

While we should all remain very cautious and safe this summer, there are a number of things students can do to decompress from the anxious hustle and bustle of the past school year. Even if you think you did not undergo any mental toil this past year, these suggestions could help anyone get into a healthier mindset. Everyone has feelings and internal reactions to this pandemic; it hugely affected everyone. Having ways to come to terms with the past year can be beneficial for everyone. 

  1. Get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The best thing you can do for your mental health this summer is get the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the vaccine opens the doors for many opportunities that we haven’t had open in a while.According to the CDC, “[a] growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to be infected without showing symptoms (called an asymptomatic infection) and potentially less likely to spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others.” 

  1. Do something you haven’t done in a long time (safely). 

There is no getting around the fact that everyone has missed out on something. The “new normal” routine adapted during quarantine does not have a long shelf-life; getting back to a normal life will take longer than this one summer, but it’s a good start. Some things that have been missing from everyday life have been my favorite parts of summer. If you can, go see a movie at a theater. Eat out a little more. Go tour an art gallery. Go camping (there is a way to do all of these things safely and socially-distanced; we should continue to be responsible and keep six feet away). 

3. If you can, try therapy. 

Therapy can be a bit of a wishy-washy subject, especially considering the way it can take a long time to find a good therapist. Having someone to talk to about everything that has gone down within the last school year, even if you think you have no feelings towards it, could help you recognize the real and traumatic way this year has affected our relationships, perspectives of the world, and perspectives of ourselves. 

Whatever you decide to do this summer, recognizing the ways in which our mind and body have been affected this past year can influence our collective healing process. After dedicating out so much of our time and energy towards school, you and your mind deserve a break.

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