Welcome to our special section, Thrive Global on Campus, devoted to covering student mental health, well-being, and redefining success from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
Like many others, I feel I misunderstood what staying home would truly mean. I tried to stay on the bright side, I conjured images of sitting studiously with my laptop in hand getting high grades now that schoolwork had my full attention. I imagined hours spent playing with my younger sister after class ended and long evenings reading. These conjured moments are far from the hours spent trying to focus among the sounds of my family’s overlapping office spaces. My sister’s constant interruptions and trying to keep Zoom classes, Zoom hangouts, and Zoom meetings straight. What I was afraid to acknowledge before I’m ready to admit now; staying home is hard. There is no need to try and cover up this fact or minimize it, what I am ready to share is how to work with it.
The mental images of alone time, reading, playing, and focusing are far from my everyday but they are not that far. These moments are certainly reachable, they just take planning. It is rare for our dreams to fall into our laps. As with everything, living how we want takes time and effort, two ingredients that make our moments of calm and joy so sweet. As a student well accustomed to small shared spaces, having lived in dorms for many years, I have found that to work with noise and business and boredom you have to be ready to roll up your and change your habits, don’t be afraid! Changing is the best part!
For me, my work comes in the form of a daily yoga practice. I wake up before the rest of the house and lie my mat out with semi-bleary eyes and begin my day. I spend between 20 minutes to an hour on the mat, bending, twisting, stretching, and meditating. It has undoubtedly been my most rewarding habit. Physically, I go to sleep earlier, wake up happier and start each day with an accomplishment. That to me is the key, beginning each day with accomplishment, creating something that shows a progression. I find that these habits are some of the only markers to remind me that time is genuinely passing. Making the mental space to do yoga has its own effects as well, I am less quick to lean into irritation and I am more welcoming to spending time alongside, talking to and cooking with my family.
The act of practicing yoga itself makes me feel nourished. I make sure not to check my watch or my phone and I try to remain in silence. While I am not always in perfect alignment with my body contorted in a highly impressive manner, I am creating my own happiness. I am creating my own calm and I am giving myself the chance to explore me. All this giving makes me grateful to be in a healthy body, in a home that serves my needs and more and to be with people who care for my well being. That clarity is what keeps the fact that I am going through a hard period just that, a fact. It does not have to become a monster, a storm of constant anxiety and discontent, it can rest as a part of my reality that will one day end.
Finding your yoga does not literally have to be in this exact practice, though I would highly recommend it . Your yoga can be taking care of plants or a small garden (scallions, lettuce, and rosemary can all be grown from a small cutting and water). Maybe you could build a skill like making your own lattes — YouTube has a plethora of guidance for aspiring baristas and gardeners. Whatever your yoga is (or will be) it does not have to be grandiose, it just needs to be attainable. There is not a bridge I know of that was built in the middle of the ocean, bridges are built where they can be accessed and your yoga is your bridge to those calm, joyous moments we all want and need during this time.
More Thrive Global on Campus:
What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need
If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help
The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis