Letter from the President – March 20, 2020

Dear Undergraduate Students,

Given the recommendations to practise social distancing to the best of our ability, here are some tips to promote better wellness and learning through these uncertain times as a student.

Viruses, unlike a lot of people, do not discriminate by ethnicity or nationality and neither should you. Be mindful of how you talk about COVID-19 and those affected by it. Just like many other aspects of people, it is important to separate the person from being defined by the disease. As such, refer to them as people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID-19” and “people who are recovering from COVID-19”. This rhetoric reduces the stigma that many have created since the outbreak.[1]

I understand wanting to keep up with what’s going on as it relates to this issue, but it is important to minimize consumption of news that makes you feel anxious or distressed.[1] If you would like to stay up to date, pick a few reputable sources of information and schedule when you check them. Additionally, try to read a few articles that spark your curiosity in their entirety rather than scrolling through multiple headlines.

Be cautious of how much time you spend on social media platforms. I know that through these trying times, social media seems like the ultimate pass-time. However, we are all aware of the toll that scrolling through everybody’s highlight reel can have on our mental health and to exacerbate that right now isn’t doing anyone any good.[2] Just like the news, schedule positive social media time into your day and set a time limit on your usage.[3]

Get creative about engagement with people. Call, video chat and check in with your neighbours, friends and family on an on-going basis.[3] If you’re feeling down or frustrated and don’t know who to talk to, send me an email at supresident@wlu.ca and I am more than happy to message or call you and can assure your anonymity.

We might be in our homes for a little while so let’s make them a positive place to be. Open curtains and windows where possible. Light candles or use essential oils if that’s your thing. Take the time to make the environment that you are in calm, peaceful and most importantly, your own.

Stay active with the space you have. Yoga and home workouts can work wonders, trust me, I’m trying them all right now. If you’re not self-quarantining, go outside for a jog or walk. Fresh air and exposure to greenery can reduce stress levels, the symptomology of depression and anxiety and improve cognition.[4]

Treat studying online the same as you would studying with class time. Studying exclusively online might be new to many of you, but so was university! Create a plan, schedule your time to your pace and use different techniques to stay motivated.[5] Try this; for every topic you cover in a course, see if you can find a video that addresses it or try to teach it to a friend. Learning new things is fun and it’s what prompts us to share information online in the first place. So, share it with us!

The Students’ Union will continue to adapt and find ways to provide support to our students during all this uncertainty, and we encourage you to check out our Tips to Study & Thrive at Home as we help navigate this new space of online life. Every day we will be posting a new tip to help with schoolwork or being at home and it is our hope that this will help you in some way.

Know that we can get through this together and that I am with you every step of the way.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] World Health Organization. “Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak”. World Health Organization. March 12, 2020. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_8.

[2] O’Reilly, Michelle, Nisha Dogra, Natasha Whiteman, Jason Hughes, Seyda Eruyar, and Paul Reilly. “Is Social Media Bad for Mental Health and Wellbeing? Exploring the Perspectives of Adolescents.” Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 23, no. 4 (2018): 601–13. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359104518775154.

[3]Brewer, Kirstie. “Coronavirus: How to Protect Your Mental Health.” BBC News. BBC, March 16, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51873799.

[4] Pearson, David G., and Tony Craig. “The Great Outdoors? Exploring the Mental Health Benefits of Natural Environments.” Frontiers in Psychology 5 (2014). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01178.

[5] Pappas, Christopher. “Getting The Most Out Of Your ELearning Course: 10 Study Tips For Online Learners.” eLearning Industry, September 23, 2019. https://elearningindustry.com/10-study-tips-for-online-learners-getting-the-most-out-of-your-elearning-course.

 

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