Well, let’s just begin by stating the obvious: this semester doesn’t look like how you planned. In all likelihood, you are reading this sitting in your childhood bedroom, wondering, “Gosh, why do I still have Star Wars sheets on my bed, and why does my mom still display all of my little league trophies in our living room?” Or perhaps you are still stuck on campus, looking at your painted cinderblock dorm room walls wondering if you could pad them, because deep down you’re asking yourself, “How many more to-go boxes from Penland before I go insane?”
We’re right there with you, friends. COVID-19 has certainly disrupted the carefully laid plans of both mice and men. For those of you who were preparing to graduate this spring, we mourn with you over the loss of a formal graduation ceremony. For those of you who are over the moon about the new pass/fail policy, we rejoice with you! But this isn’t a time to give up and lose hope, no matter what situation you are in.
We want to share with you today how to create a sense of normalcy in the midst of this chaos. It might feel futile to create a schedule right now. As the great comedian Jim Gaffigan has joked: “Why won’t I make my bed? For the same reason I don’t tie my shoes after taking them off.” We understand the inclination to just weather this storm and hibernate with Netflix, but we encourage you to think big picture: finish the race you have begun. Finish well.
The best way to finish well is to create some routines. We’re not talking about totally scaffolding your days but implementing a few daily practices will help you find a rhythm. Routines will help you sleep better, feel better, and maybe, just maybe, find some joy in the midst of all this uncertainty. Here are Baylor UWC’s tips for creating daily practices. Don’t necessarily do all of them! Pick one or two to start with, and go from there.
- Wake up and go to bed at a regular time each day. This is a very simple practice and will help prevent sluggishness. Your body thrives on regularity, and regular bedtimes/wakeups help set your Circadian rhythm, which influences a lot of your body’s other systems, like metabolism, energy levels, and sleep cycles. So dust off that alarm clock!
- Limit screen time. We know this is a difficult one with classes all online, the constant barrage of email, and the tendency to fill time with all the social meedz. But if you can create a few technology blackouts throughout your day, this can actually help lower anxiety and improve sleep. Many people have reported chronic headaches and increased anxiety due to the rise in screen time. One of the best things to do is to have a device cut-off time. Start small: one or two nights a week try to power down your laptop and phone well before bedtime and stop checking email and social media. This lets your brain know it’s okay to turn off for a while. Consider reading before bed or listening to calming music or an audiobook instead of binge-watching Love is Blind until you fall asleep.
- Move your body. Right now, a lot of us have necessarily become more sedentary than usual. We’re on the couch, in our beds, or seated at desks all day long. Pry yourself off the sofa and go for a walk! Or, if you feel especially stir-crazy, go for a jog, find some yoga flow videos on YouTube, or kick it up a notch in your living room with some dance cardio or CrossFit circuits. Anything you can do to stay active during this time will clear your head, keep you healthier, improve sleep, and feel more yourself. This is a great time to head to a local park or walk around your neighborhood.
- Do Your Best for This Season! We know that with the pass/fail announcement, it’s tempting to just coast for the rest of the semester. We would urge you to choose the path of integrity, which will look different for each student depending on the circumstances. Do yourself and your professors a favor: honor their time and yours by working hard, resting hard, and sticking to the commitments you made before the world turned upside down. This might mean writing the most incredible prose in the time you now have, or it may mean committing to simply completing assignments if your home life is a bit hectic. Whatever “best” means for you right now, do that! You’ll thank yourself in the long run for choosing the path of integrity, rather than the path of least resistance.
- Schedule an appointment with the University Writing Center! We know you all still have papers to write, job applications to fill out, and personal statements to craft, so schedule an appointment with one of our tutors! The UWC has gone fully online, but we are just as eager to help you write to the best of your ability. Head on over to mywconline.com/ to set up an appointment today. We can’t wait to work with you.
Do you have ways that you’ve built some normalcy back into your life? Have you found rhythms or schedules to help you through your days? Have you picked up any fun new hobbies or skills to pass the time? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Comment below with your thoughts on the suggestions above, as well as any fun tips or tricks you’ve found to make life feel a little more familiar.