How to avoid an existential crisis, find solidarity in the face of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of many people and continues to be a daunting topic. With the challenge of dealing with a pandemic, students are faced with many new adaptations and the search for a “new normal”.

After being indoors and closed for months, coming out of the pandemic can be confusing. For Taylor Deleruyelle, a bioscience junior, it was nothing more than an adjustment.

“It’s been really difficult, and I feel like during the pandemic my procrastination, which was already bad, got even worse,” Deleruyelle said. “I find it harder to stay organized and keep track of my assignments – hard to sit down and realize, ‘Oh my God, I’m even worse than I was before.’ Now I have to find a whole new way to handle this.

Despite the unknown, Deleruyelle thinks there’s still an upside: the pandemic has provided growth in learning to manage adjustments. It was a time of reflection and learning for Deleruyelle.

However, finding ways to improve is not easy for everyone. Shannon Gray, a psychology doctoral intern at Ohio University Psychological and Counseling Services, or CPS, said times like these aren’t easy, but there are ways to find help.

“We encourage students to recognize that these are difficult times,” Gray said in an email. “Once each student recognizes how they have been personally affected; we hope they can begin to support themselves better. Students may need to be more patient and gracious toward their own experiences, in recognition of recent events.

Gray said reflection can occur through intentional socialization, academic and program demands, organizational demands as well as other interactions with family, friends and administrators.

Paige Klatt, mental health support coordinator at CPS, said it’s important for students to find something outside of school and work to connect with others.

“We each come with different levels of comfort, and we deserve to allow ourselves some grace during this transition,” Klatt said in an email. “For some students, this may feel like getting involved in student organizations, while for others it may mean finding time to meet one or more people over coffee or lunch.

Klatt said if students are having difficulty during this transition, CPS encourages them to contact 740-593-1616 to schedule an appointment with a counselor. There is a lot of other ways reaching out for help.

In addition to finding help through OU, students can also use Athens as an outlet to help them through these difficult times.

Places like Donkey Coffee & Espresso, 17 W. Washington St., and the University Baker Center’s Front Room Coffeehouse host open-mic nights and allow people to socialize. There are other events in Athens provide distractions and entertainment after a long day.

“There’s something for everyone here,” Klatt said in an email. “Getting involved helps everyone feel more connected and get through tough times.”

Deleruyelle said acclimating to campus was a challenge, but she’s ready to start talking to people in a social setting because she’s been deprived of social interaction for so long.

“During quarantine I was definitely at one of the lowest points of my life,” Deleruyelle said. “If I could just look back and tell them, ‘Wait. You can get through it. Try to do the things you need to do in the day. It’s just getting through the day – focusing on the present. You’re about to feel good and normal again.

The pandemic has changed times and will continue to bring new challenges to many, but there are ways to avoid the existential crises that many think are creeping up on them.

“It’s about finding what works best for you,” Gray said in an email.

@kkayyben

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