Society of Bioethics and Medicine
COVID Student Impacts & Comebacks
Written by Sanjana Ahmed
Edited by Jacquelyn Tang
People always herald college to be the most pivotal, and best four years of their lives. And for some people, that may be true. However, people are a lot more reluctant to talk about the negative experiences of their college careers. So, let's change that.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed more about our society and lives than we may realize at first glance. Specifically looking at the lives of students, the pandemic has had the ability to alter life trajectories completely. Upon reflection, I might fall into this category.
The Fog - Brain Fog
To really understand the profound impact that this pandemic has had on me, I need to take you back to my high school career. In short, I was your typical straight A, all APs, a million extracurriculars, and thriving kind of student. Most importantly, I thrived off of human interaction and was super goal-oriented. But then, I got covid.
My entire family got infected in March 2020, basically when everyone thought we, as a society, were going to never recover. Luckily, we are all fine now, at least physically.
The issue lies in that I can barely remember that year. Or the school year after. Or really the following two years. It is just a blur in which I can pick out a few details and overall arcs in my story, but nothing is super clear. This is how I realized I had brain fog.
This impacted my mental health profoundly. It seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn’t revert to my ‘pre-pandemic’ mentality, I didn’t feel confident in much of anything I did, and my mental health was just at an all-time low. But I knew I couldn’t let this consume me, so I turned to social media.
The Start of Recovery
Like many people, I think that it can be really difficult to admit to having an issue. Even worse is trying to convey that issue with others due to feelings of shame and any associated stigmas. Feeling unable to communicate my issues to my family or friends, I began posting about my situation on TikTok. Unexpectedly, I received an overwhelming amount of support and sympathy from viewers. From there on, I began making an active effort to get better, to not only help myself but also to share tips with my newfound audience.
With this, I began to learn more about myself and what impacts my mental health. I have also been able to find different tools to help me along the way and incorporate them into my life.
Prior to trying to pick myself back up again, I knew I needed to actually reevaluate myself and acknowledge what would work best for me. So that’s to say, what worked for me may not work for you, but you can still glean important attributes from these recommendations.
However, you need to take a look at yourself and figure out certain things. For students, one of the most important things is figuring out what type of learner they are. Do you work well with study groups? Do you prefer solo studying? How would you best stay organized? How do you take notes? And other questions of that nature can garner important information for you and how to get back on track.
Like any journey, you need certain materials along the way. I think that this also goes for any personal expeditions, metaphorical or not. I am not a professional in any sense of the word, but through trial and error, I found a few things that work for me. Hopefully, they can work for you too!
First and foremost, my planner. As I mentioned before, it's really important to force yourself to stick to a schedule, especially at the beginning of your self-help journey. The thing with planners is that specific ones work for specific people. You don’t need to splurge on a fancy one, but you need to find one that will keep you organized and on track.
In the same vein, my desk calendar is also vital. If you haven’t caught on yet, I am a physical note-taker type of person. My desk calendar is used for landmark notes, such as important deadlines, test dates, appointments, and more. If you aren’t a fan of organization that’s through a physical medium, platforms such as Google Calendars are a great alternative.
Next up are the apps. Like many people my age, I am almost clinically attached to my phone. So, I figured that if I could find apps that would benefit me in the long run, it would work out great since I was always checking my phone.
One of the best ones is Forest, which is more of a tool to get you to focus than anything else. When you launch the app, you can set a timer for how long you want to stay off of your phone, and save for certain features based on your settings. If you stay off your phone for the allotted time, a plant will be shown to have grown in your forest. This acts as a reward for your work. The longer you do this, the more your forest will flourish, giving you a visual for all the things you accomplished.
In a different vein, there’s Carway. This app is different from all the other tools since instead of focusing on organization, its emphasis is on health. The app was made specifically for college-aged students who are women+. Its main features include 24/7 care, direct access to clinicians and a care team, and the ability to get quick responses to any needs, including mental health crises, if you require transport to a hospital, or if you need an immediate check up. This also transfers over to the real world since your care team can get you referrals if you need them. I particularly like the app for mental health purposes, which is one of their main focuses, alongside reproductive health. And if you’re interested, there is a free trial going on up until November 1st, 2022!
Mental health is something that is not stagnant. We have to work on it to maintain its good standing, and there is no shame in reaching out for health. Especially since as students, we are in extremely stressful situations at all times.
So, while organization and getting back on track are key in helping your lifestyle, so is your actual health. Out of all the tools that I recommended, if you are really struggling with your mental health, I implore you to give Caraway a try. You will start to see results even within the time of your free trial, because seeking help is the first step in actually getting help.
P.S. I promise this is not sponsored. (Although I do intern for Carway, there is no discount code for 10% off like any good influencer would.)