Your environment really can affect you. 

I am a messy person, I admit it. Early on in the pandemic, I learned that when I’m by myself my apartment can look like a tornado went through it. I would leave a trail of dishes, snacks, and laundry! During the pandemic and quarantine, I learned that when I really didn’t want to clean up, it usually meant I needed to check on my mental health. I’ve also learned that keeping my place a tad tidier helps me keep a positive attitude, feel calm, and feel comfortable. 

I know for some people, this may not resonate, but the question is worth considering: how do your surroundings affect you, and how can you use this information for good? Maybe you learned being around others helps you focus. If so, consider making studying at the USF Library part of your weekly schedule. Take the knowledge you’ve gained from quarantine and remote learning, and make it work for you. My place might not be sparkling clean, but it’s much improved from a year ago! We will take progress! 

It’s easy to be hard on yourself  

Anyone else feel pressure? To look amazing, to be perfectly healthy, to get all A’s, or something else? Social and self-imposed pressures are real, and they affect our mental health and self-expectations. We all feel different pressures, but here’s what I’ve learned: applying the pressure doesn’t always result in motivation. It actually can cause stress, feelings of poor self-worth…and sometimes procrastination. Self-compassion can help. Talking with others like you on Togetherall can also help reduce stress.  

My social needs 

I used to think I was the life of the party. Maybe I still am, sometimes, but the truth is, I no longer love going to big events. I would rather spend time with 1-10 friends, and really connect with them. I also might need more alone time than I thought…or at least for now. It’s okay if your opinions, preferences, and social needs have changed during the course of the pandemic.

Social media breaks and limits are a good thing. 

It is easy to spend all day on social media without realizing it. But it’s not ideal. I try to stop scrolling when I feel angry, my heart racing, or judgmental. Setting a timer on my apps and finding something else to do, like reading or going on a walk has helped! Try using TogetherallTAO, or renting a new book to decrease your time on social media. Finding healthy coping mechanisms besides scrolling is also helpful. Learn more about mental health resources at USF here

There’s no reason to feel bad about seeing a counselor! 

During “lockdown”, I watched a lot of TV, including The O.C. It was pretty interesting to see how one of the teens in the show was very against going to counseling, and saw it as a punishment. While Counseling is losing the stigma it used to have, maybe part of you is nervous to go. Going to Counseling can be a healthy and positive thing. Just like you go to the doctor when you feel bad, going to a counselor can help if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, sad or just not like yourself. Learn more about Counseling here.