Last year, I wrote a post about my struggles living far away from home (I’m from Vancouver, which is a 4-5 hour plane ride away from Toronto). Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, living away from home has gotten a lot more anxiety inducing! I’ve been experiencing worries about COVID and general life uncertainty, and these worries are a lot more prevalent because I’ve been mostly stuck at home. I’m sure lots of U of T students are in a similar boat, so I thought I’d share some of the ways I’ve been coping with living far away from home right now.
As I mentioned, living away from home right now gives me a lot of anxiety. Surviving this time has really meant addressing and working through my anxious thoughts and feelings.
For me, working through anxiety can look like a wide variety of things. It can look like doing a CBT exercise my therapist taught me to help dispute irrational thoughts I’m having, or meditating for ten minutes every day to keep myself calm, or going on a run. It can also mean talking to my roommates and friends about what I’m anxious about.
Everyone’s mental health is very different, and if you’re looking for personalized help, I highly recommend reaching out to mental health services. U of T recently introduced a new platform called Navi which makes accessing mental health services at the university a lot easier. I also recommend using your U of T health insurance plan if you have one, which covers $100 of every 15 sessions of counselling you go to in a year! Using my U of T health insurance allows me to access counselling for relatively affordable rates year-round.
I also find talking to my parents regularly, especially at a set time every week, is very helpful for making me feel grounded and supported. Knowing that I’ll talk to my parents and be able to check in with them about their safety every few days subsides a lot of my worries. It also allows me to focus on other things, like school and my friends at U of T, when I’m not talking to my parents.
Though staying informed about the news and public health is important, I found that my anxiety got a lot worse when I spent every day reading COVID news updates for Vancouver and Toronto and really obsessing over the numbers. Now, I’m making sure to check news updates about 3 times a week, as opposed to multiple times per day, which feels like a much healthier balance between staying informed and also protecting my mental health.
Finally, I’ve found that really leaning on my friends for support is essential for getting through this time. For example, this Thanksgiving I’m going to be spending additional time with my roommates and having a “friendsgiving.” Things like this are really essential for reminding me that I’m not alone, despite being far away from my family.
If you’re in a similar position to me, how are you staying calm?