When we are young, in middle school and not old enough to truly appreciate education, we dreamt of a never-ending summer vacation, or at least one that is longer than two and a half months. This year, Wittenberg students did not return to campus after spring break, for spring break turned into a breakout of pandemonium and stress.
Words like quarantine, loneliness, loss, depression, binging, excessive shopping, stress, dogs, essential workers, “Mask Up” and the ER defined my summer, and I am sure some of them are very relatable. So much went on in a small amount of time that it has become a task to even think of processing it all. Every time I received another problem on the docket, I just wanted to curl up in a sunlit corner of my house with my dog and fall asleep. It seemed so hard to think of a normal state, the times before COVID-19 beginning to appear like a calm sea; so beautiful, so perfect.
The storm of a summer that drearily dragged on brought a lot of pain, physical and emotional. Constantly worrying about the safety of my family and friends was a daily stress. Developing a new fear of food processors was a surprise to me and the tip of my middle finger, but hey, why not add a big, red cherry on top of a messy pandemic?
Each day, I felt a little bit more of myself grow more and more tired. I grew tired of wearing a hot mask on my face. I grew tired of my hands being raw from the repetitive washing and sanitizing. I grew tired of stubborn people not following basic safety guidelines. I grew tired of being stuck at home with nothing to do but work at my boring job. I grew tired of just scrolling online and ended up buying multiple paychecks worth of things I probably didn’t need. I grew tired re-watching Friends, so I finally watched Rick and Morty, laughed with Community and How I Met Your Mother and sang along with every Disney movie.
Taking a hot minute to destress was very important this summer. I found multiple ways to do so, such as keeping my hands moving when I am sitting still. I realized that while I sit still watching Netflix or something, my hands shake and become restless. I did puzzles, painted canvases, knit a scarf or two, bought rings to play with around my fingers and wrote more of my novel. When my head became too clouded, I took my dog for a walk. I went for runs in the early mornings at a local park. I browsed Instagram, viewing my aunt’s travel pictures of her and my uncle in New Zealand and daydreaming that I was with them.
Learning more ways to cope with stress was the biggest thing to come out of this summer for me, despite all the negatives. So, now that we’re back, please do your best to manage your stress in smart, safe ways while you’re on campus. Together, we can do this, six feet apart.