As the semester continues to march towards its end, many students are showing signs of exhaustion even as they prepare for final exams and projects. On the app Wildfire, many students are expressing how tired they are and how much work is still left to do and some are lamenting that there was no Spring Break this semester.
UNCG decided before the Fall 2020 semester’s end that the Spring 2021 semester would be devoid of a Spring Break because of safety concerns due to the pandemic. Similarly, there was no Fall Break and students did not return to campus after Thanksgiving Break.
UNCG stated in their announcements that this was to prevent students from traveling and spreading COVID-19 unnecessarily.
However, this has led to collective exhaustion among students and professors.
“So tired of doing hw and I haven’t even gotten to the big assignments yet,” said Wildfire user Lovely.
“I am both ready and not ready for this semester to end,” said cookiemonster, another Wildfire user and student at UNCG.
This exhaustion is not just at UNCG. Many other universities chose to cancel Spring Break because of the event’s reputation for reckless behavior and travel. The effects have been documented in articles such as the Chicago Tribune’s article, “COVID-19 cancels spring break on college campuses as students seek other ways to cope with pandemic burnout.”
This has taken a toll on the psyches of the students as expressed by University of Illinois student Zarifah Shahid in the Chicago Tribune’s article.
“College students are troopers right now,” Shahid said. “All of us are at different levels of burnout and we’re still doing our thing.”
Students need the mental health breaks that Spring Break usually provides, and so do the professors. According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research’s recent study, “Effects of COVID-19 on College Students’ Mental Health in the United States: Interview Survey Study,” 71 percent of college students surveyed said they had experienced increased stress and anxiety because of the pandemic.
In order to treat this, UNCG attempted to remedy the complaints made previously about the lack of a Fall Break by creating a Mental Health Day on March 3.
Some professors tried to skirt around Mental Health Day entirely, according to Wildfire user Mitchell9913, who claimed that their teacher did not cancel class on that day.
Other colleges that also tried giving students a Mental Health Day faced similar issues.
“It’s not a break,” said student Mark Guanin in an interview with NBC News. “It’s not really a rest and recovery day. It’s just going to be nonstop school. We’re still going to have homework and deadlines that are going to be due the day after what they call ‘rest and recovery’ days.”
There have clearly been problems when trying to aid in the mental health and stress levels of the students. However, solutions can still be found and lessons from the past year can be taken into account and used to create better working environments for students and professors.
The CDC recommends for anyone struggling with their mental health during the pandemic to practice standard wellness and nutrition, and to take care of their body.
They also recommend that you be careful with what media you consume and how often you watch or read the news.
“Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media,” said the CDC’s website. “It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.”
Conway Medical Center offers similar advice. The institution also recommends meditation and to try and put aside some time to practice hobbies.
Conway Medical Center’s website states, “sometimes the anxiety of the unknown makes it easy to forget the things you love to do. Make a list and plan to participate in as many as possible…remember that there are often creative ways to still participate in the things you love.”
UNCG also has resources for students and faculty struggling with mental health during the last stretch of the Spring 2021 semester.
Their website says the following:
“As always, in the case of an emergency, please call The UNCG Police at 336-334-4444, 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room. You can also access immediate support by dialing “211” (National Mental Health Helpline) or the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by texting “START” to 741-741. Find more information on what to do in a crisis by visiting our In Crisis? Resource page.”