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How to de-stress during a shortened semester

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

With the condensed HyFlex semester, Belmont students and staff have found ways to step away from the screen and take time for themselves to mentally recharge.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t help others unless you’ve been fully able to help yourself,” said freshman Jane-Claire Radde.

Radde is one of many students who has been experiencing mental fatigue having no breaks this semester. Belmont administration made the decision to shorten the semester from the typical 15 weeks with breaks to 12 weeks with no breaks. The purpose of having no breaks is to discourage students from traveling and minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

“I think that my brain has just been on ‘go’ at all times, and my brain can’t operate on ‘go’ all the time. Sometimes, it needs a break before it can get back in the mode,” said Radde.

Freshman Carter Wells agrees.

“We can’t be thinking about school all the time. We need to have something else, a way to cope and relax, especially with everything going on,” said Wells.

In addition to students being overwhelmed with the shortened semester, professors are experiencing a similar feeling.

“It’s affected all of our free time, not just students, but faculty, staff and administrators. We are all living a truncated life,” said Sybril Brown, professor of journalism. “And such, we need to make adjustments on weekends. We need to make adjustments during the weekday hours, making sure we are much more intentional about our time.”

One tip Brown has for students and professors is to plan their time with an objective.

“It has to be intentional. You have plan time on your schedule, on your calendar, on your reminders, your notifications. You have to intentionally make time to connect with yourself,” said Brown.

Students like Radde and Wells said they refocus their attention on themselves by exercising and being outside.

“I’ll go outside and run or I’ll sit on the lawn or play Spikeball,” said Wells. “Exercising gives me a chance to have a mental refresh and a chance to think about other things other than school.”

Radde has found that exercising makes her feel good about a personal task being complete.

“It releases good endorphins and makes me feel good about myself that I have accomplished something that feels difficult,” said Radde.

With the unknown of when the COVID-19 pandemic will be over, Brown points out the importance of maintaining stability.

“During uncertain times, it is critical to maintain spiritual, physical, emotional and mental balance,” said Brown.

She suggests meditation for students and professors who need a break.

“It relaxes the nervous system. So those who suffer from anxiety, trauma, fear, dread, many are well aware of this if you have been to classes, therapy, but breathing techniques are critical,” said Brown.

Radde who practices meditation daily has seen a change in herself. Radde enjoys going to the gazebos on the north lawn of campus.

“With a gazebo, I feel like I am in a safe space to meditate while being outside. I start with breathing and focus on breathing and then let my mind take me where it needs to go,” said Radde. “I am just genuinely happier and have a better outlook on what’s going on since I have started meditating.”

This article written by Allison Fedorchek.

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