Feeling anxious about the continued challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic? Dr. Clarence Massie Jr., psychology lecturer at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College, shares tips for staying healthy and focused.
By Clarence Massie Jr.
DUNWOODY, Ga.—If you are feeling anxious and think the coronavirus pandemic is to blame, you’re not alone. It’s a normal human response as we adjust to life that is different and, in many ways, uncomfortable.
As a student, the college experience sometimes can be challenging and scary in normal times, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, only more so. I have a news flash: it’s the same for those of us teaching and working in the college.
But there are tips I’m sharing about things in our control — things we can do, or not do — that will help us stay healthy and productive.
- Prioritize Sleep — Consistent sleep is key: it fuels your ability to focus intently, to think more clearly and to minimize anxiety. Train yourself to go to sleep and awake on a consistent schedule and prepare your sleeping space in a way that supports your effort — including turning off (not just silencing) electronic devices.
- Modify Behaviors — Here’s a great self-check: review anything you do that may undermine your ability to create healthier emotional, mental and physical outcomes for yourself and those around you. What sorts of behaviors should you be looking for that can be self-defeating? Here’s two prime culprits; excessive alcohol consumption and drug use. Both can create a host of health and mental problems, but often are a reaction to stress events like the COVID-19 pandemic because they are falsely seen as a stress reliever.
- Make Online and Hybrid Learning Work for You
- If you’re taking classes online, make sure you’re familiar with best practices and resources for online learning. If needed, upgrade your internet or computer options. (If cost is an issue, check with internet service providers and charitable organizations about low-cost options.)
- Learn about the content of your upcoming courses. Read! Read! Read! There are free online resources you can access to gain greater depth in a myriad of areas.
- Create a space that is conducive to learning. Look for space with sufficient lighting that is clean and quiet.
- Make your calendar your friend. Use one calendar and load it with deadlines, activities, free time, work and family time, etc. You have heard the adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
It’s hard to know exactly when we’ll be on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic. Until then, I hope the information here will help you to navigate the unknowns for a successful semester.
Clarence Massie Jr., Ph.D., has taught at Perimeter College for more than 10 years. He currently teaches Introduction to Drugs and Behavior and Introduction to Human Development courses, as well as a general psychology class that uses the textbook “Exploring Psychology — The Essentials of Mind, Body, and Behavior,” which Dr. Massie wrote. Dr. Massie also provides clinical counseling and life coaching services at his private practice in southwest Atlanta.