“I feel like as I’m stuck in quarantine, I’m slowly losing my mind. I’m beginning to struggle to keep up with classes and I feel like I’m slowly going insane. What can I do to keep myself entertained and keep up with classes?”
Dear Not Well,
During these trying times, it’s important that as we keep ourselves and our family and our friends safe, we also take care of ourselves. This might sound counterproductive, but in my experience the best thing to do is schedule things for yourself. You say that you are struggling with your classes, but why is that exactly? Are you logging onto Zoom late? Are you just not doing assignments? Both of these things can be helped through some scheduling. If you aren’t getting up, set more than one alarm. If you have a lot of homework, make sure you write everything down in a visible place, like a Post-It note on your computer.
On the non-school side of things, make sure that you have options when it comes to leisure time. Go ahead and watch some Netflix or Youtube, or read a book. It’s important that whatever you do is something that you like to do, because it will help you unwind after hours of school and looking at the computer all day. Also, make sure you’re being active! You’ve probably heard by now that having at least 30 minutes of activity is good for you both mentally and physically, so make sure you’re getting those 30 minutes every day. If you are able, go on a walk outside! Not only will you be breathing fresh air, but you’ll be moving. If you can’t, walk on a treadmill, or search for some home exercises you can do.
Also, use this time to set some projects for yourself or to finish things you’ve been meaning to get done. Maybe you’ve been meaning to clean out your closet or organize your closet for sometime now. Well, guess what? Now you have all the time in the world. If you keep yourself busy and feeling productive, you won’t feel like you’re trapped in your house.
Whatever you do, it’s important that you keep a schedule for yourself, so your days can feel as normal as possible. While you may not be in control of the virus or of quarantine, you are in control of your attitudes and actions. You can choose to look at this situation more positively and change what you do to make it more manageable.
Best of luck,
“If you use school life to cope with a bad home life, what are some things you can do to deal with everything right now? I’m personally feeling overwhelmed.”
I totally understand how you are feeling. Now that all of us are at home all the time, it can be harder to distance ourselves from things or people that make us feel upset or anxious. I want you to know that you’re definitely not alone in this, and that there are a few ways to make quarantine feel less like a punishment and more like a fun side adventure.
If things are stressful at home, then I would suggest trying to find ways to distance yourself from what is going on at home by engaging in activities that keep you away from the sources of stress at home. This could be video-chatting with friends, binging your favorite TV shows, finishing that project you never quite got around to completing, finding a new hobby, or (*gasp*) doing homework and studying. If the source of stress involves loud noises or sounds, then I would suggest making sure to always have a good pair of earbuds or headphones ready to help drown out whatever is going on. This could be a great time to check out that album from that one artist that you’ve been meaning to listen to for a while.
Whatever may be happening at home, I want you to know that it is not your responsibility to fix it or to take on the burden of peacekeeping. You are a high schooler; you should only worry about high schooler things. If things are ever getting to a point where you feel like you are in danger or you feel personally unsafe, please reach out to someone. I know it can be hard to talk to people about things like this, but I can tell you that once you let someone know, whether that person is your mentor, your best friend, or another adult you trust, you will feel so much better. UHS is a community built on supporting each other, and I think you’ll find that everyone has a vested interest in your wellbeing and will do whatever they can to help, whether that be by listening, connecting you to resources, or offering advice on how to deal with the situation.
If all else, you can always continue to write here anonymously, and I will use my omniscient pug skills to give you a few tips and tricks.
“Since 1994, it has been well [known] that the Internet allows dogs to take the role of that privileged being, the internet user. Now that UHS has transitioned to e-learning, are you worried that people will forget that you are a dog?
I ask because my identity is in part about being a member of the UHS community. During e-learning, am I still a part of UHS? That is my question and concern.”
Dear Identity Crisis,
The Internet is quite powerful, even extending its influence over omniscient pugs such as myself! However, the Internet can also feel like a very lonely and untrustworthy place. I know I always feel disappointed when I realize that just because someone has a dog in their profile picture, it doesn’t mean that they are also a fellow dog. More often than not, they are a human with a vast amount of affection for their dog, which is great, but it would be nice to meet another dog with the ability to type and process English.
E-learning is weird and challenging in unexpected ways. How can we feel connected to each other if all we do is stare at each other through a screen? How can we be a community if our daily schedule is 40% shorter and we are only able to see our classmates and teachers, and not other schoolmates and teachers? How can we feel like we are a part of something while we are all separated from each other?
There isn’t a very clear answer to any of this, but there are some ways that we can try to recreate the aspects we liked best about normal schooling. Maybe there was a teacher you used to chat with after class, but now in e-learning, you don’t have the opportunity to stay late and chat. You could pop by during office hours to catch up with that teacher; I’m sure that teacher would be more than happy to talk to you, since all of us are missing some human interaction in our lives.
Maybe you text your friends everyday, but it still doesn’t feel quite like it used to. You could organize a group video call to chat with them. Maybe you guys used to watch movies together every weekend. There’s a Chrome extension called “Netflix Party” you guys could try out, or you could (legally) stream the movie through another video chatting platform. Maybe you miss eating lunch with your friends. You could video chat with them while eating. It’s not as weird as it sounds, I promise. Maybe there are some people in your classes you used to talk to all the time, but now you guys hardly interact because of how the Zoom classes are set up. You could shoot them a text or an email after class, or perhaps even set up a study group with them. There are a lot of little ways to stay in touch with people without physically seeing them everyday, and now is a great time to take advantage of all the tools and technology we have.
I know this has been a difficult and isolating time for everyone, myself included. I don’t get daily belly rubs from students anymore, and only Lade is around to hear me snore during my naps. But this won’t last forever, and until then, we’re just going to need to make the best out of it. Even while navigating this new phase of e-learning, we are all still one big UHS community, and all of us are still members of that community. The Internet can be lonely, but this is the time to take advantage of ways the Internet can make us feel more connected to each other.
“Hello Hank! I’m having a tough time paying attention during e-learning. Maybe it’s because of Crawley’s face being on everyone’s screen. It could also be the thought of having the internet to your exposure without any real supervision. Or maybe it’s just because I’m sad that school is almost over and I can’t see any of my friends, make new friends, and truly bond with the University culture. How can I overcome these distractions and anxieties?”
Dear Paying Attention During E-Learning,
I know exactly how you’re feeling right now. To me, your question has two different parts: 1) How do I pay attention? and 2) How do I feel less upset over how this school year is ending?
Let’s discuss the first question. It can be hard to pay attention when doing e-learning, especially when your fellow classmates are playing around. If you feel comfortable, maybe you ask some of your classmates to stop playing around so the learning can go more smoothly. This is no guarantee that they will change their actions, but it could help. The next thing you can do is focus on what you can control, which is anything that involves you. Like your work space. Are you working in your bedroom, where you may have your bed, books, and other distracting things around you? If possible, try to work in a different room. If this does not work, try to get rid of these distractions by at least moving them out of your reach. Because we are doing Zoom on our computers, you should try to minimize distractions on your computer as well. Close or minimize distracting browsers and applications, and change Zoom to full screen. You’ll be surprised at how greatly “out of sight, out of mind” applies.
As for your second question, the path is less clear. This is not how anyone expected the last few months of the school year to go. Like I said before, it’s important that you don’t focus on what you can’t change, like this quarantine, but you focus on what you can change, like your attitude. You may feel disconnected from your friends, but remember, we have all sorts of technology at our disposal. Not only can you call and text them, but you can video chat them through all sorts of platforms. Even if you may not feel it, I believe that even through the screen we at University have been doing a great job at keeping our culture alive and well. Many clubs are still meeting, people are having fun in classes, we are still mentoring, and we are still having morning meeting emails every day. It’s important that you focus on what you have rather than what you are missing, and this renewed focus will help you feel more positively and less anxiously about the situation at hand.
Best of luck in overcoming these distractions and anxieties,
“This is not how I thought freshman year would be going. Can you give a fella some advice on how to stay connected at school without being there. I’m just missing my friends and I have nothing to do at my house. Thanks in advance.”
Believe me when I say no one expected this year to be like this. However, there are ways to make it feel more normal, and one way is definitely keeping in touch with friends. The great thing is that we live in the time of FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Email, and instant messaging, so we have so many options of talking to our friends while maintaining social distancing. Set up times to talk to your friends via the mode of your choosing. Maybe you and your friends can be pen pals and send each other letters. There are so many ways that you can keep in touch with your friends; it’s just a matter of choosing one.
Best of luck keeping in touch with your friends,
“What are you doing to stay active?”
Personally, as an old dog, I’ve been lounging in my bed every day. But I get the feeling that’s not exactly what you had in mind. So although I’m not the best dog to ask directly about what I’m doing to stay active, I can give you suggestions on what you can do.
Now that quarantine is widespread throughout the country, people have been publishing home workout routines nonstop. Just look them up on YouTube or elsewhere and you’ll see hundreds or even thousands of ideas pop up in your feed. Beyond these routines, if you have the opportunity, you should definitely take walks outside, those are good for you mentally and physically.
Other than just straight up exercise, you should always try to keep moving. Because you have to sit at the computer for hours a day, make sure that between classes you are standing up, stretching, and maybe taking a short walk around the house. You don’t have walking and movement built into your day any more, so it’s up to you to get the heart pumping and your muscles moving.
When school is over, challenge yourself to stay active. Instead of laying on your bed looking at your phone, walk around with your phone in your hand. You’ll be able to talk to your friends and stay active at the same time! When you’re studying, walk around with flashcards or notebooks in your hand. When you’re doing homework, consider a standing desk (if you don’t have one, stack books on top of each other and put your computer on the top). Standing is better for you than sitting, so try to stand as much as possible.
Doing little things like this will help you stay active during quarantine, and maybe they’ll help you develop good habits for when quarantine is over.
Best of luck in staying active,