When the United States declared a national emergency due to COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus disease), it felt like my life was upended. Classes, clinics, and the beloved annual AAA 2020 + HearTECH Expo were significantly modified or canceled in addition to the rest of the world enduring widespread panic. Barely a month ago, life as an audiology student looked drastically different. First-years were finally getting into the groove of graduate school while second-years were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Third-years were getting ready to celebrate their last final exam, and fourth-years were commemorating the end of their studies and beginning a new chapter. Suddenly, our lives looked so different, and the future became a little more uncertain.
These unexpected changes in our daily routine are likely to cause increased stress. As healthcare students, we may be experiencing increased anxiety due to working in close quarters with the general population or having concerns about obtaining enough practicum hours. Further, many of us are frequent social media users where false or inaccurate information spreads exponentially. It’s challenging to sort through the messages and information coming at us when it’s combined with the fear of the unknown. These stressors may quickly lead your thoughts and worries to spin out of control. Read these two quick tips about what you can do to reduce anxiety.
- Learn the facts! When you understand the actual risk to yourself and others, this information can decrease stress and anxiety. Further, one should only seek accurate information from trusted organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Here are five facts from the CDC1.
- Fact 1: Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity.
- Fact 2: For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 is thought to be low. Older adults and those who are immunocompromised may be at a higher risk.
- Fact 3: Someone who has completed quarantine or has been released from isolation does not pose a risk of infection to other people.
- Fact 4: There are many simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy. You can wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face and stay home (social distancing).
- Fact 5: You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. You should seek immediate medical advice if you develop symptoms or if you’ve been in contact with a person known to have COVID-19 AND if you live in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
2. Focus on your health. During a time of crisis and uncertainty, it’s easy to focus your thoughts and energy on the rest of the world. I encourage you to take a moment to focus all that energy on yourself.
- Create a routine for yourself that has time for both productivity and relaxation. Many of us are now stationed at home, and this makes it easy to slip into a lazy day, but now it’s even more important to have a stable system in place to keep your mind active. When you mix in a little bit of studying with a little bit of pleasure, your mind will be occupied, and the days will go by faster.
- Connect with loved ones, because social distancing does not mean social isolation. Again, with many of us at home, we have the opportunity to call one another practically whenever! Further, your friends and family are likely experiencing the effects of isolation, just as much as you are. I encourage you to talk to them about those feelings because acknowledging them is the first step to facing and overcoming them.
- Exercise and get that blood-pumping! The outdoors are not off-limits, and the fresh air will help to clear your mind. Go for a brisk walk around the block! Alternatively, many free, online, full-body workouts exist that require zero equipment or machines. A quick google search will find over a million hits, so the possibilities are endless! Here are just a few:
- Corepower Yoga On Demand offers free (or for a subscription) prerecorded yoga and meditation classes, as well as free live classes at 10am, 3pm, and 8pm ET.
- Orangetheory at Home posts daily videos on Instagram on their IGTV. Click the link or follow them @orangetheory
- Peloton App has all sorts of classes for you whether you have a stationary bike or want to workout outside. They’re offering a free 90-day trial!
This is an unprecedented and scary time in human history, and we will likely continue to feel the effects for many months and years to come. Please remember that it is entirely natural and normal to feel stressed, anxious, or depressed from all this uncertainty in the world. I urge you to stay up-to-date on information sourced from credible organizations and continue to focus your energy on yourself. The section below includes multiple resources regarding mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak. Take care of yourself!
If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions such as sadness, depression, anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or someone else, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
References and Resources
*Note: Inclusion of the resources below does not imply endorsement by the American Academy of Audiology or the Student Academy of Audiology.
Stephanie Tittle is the current President-Elect of the national Student Academy of Audiology. She is a third-year audiology student at the University of Texas at Dallas and will be completing her externship at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Updated February 24, 2023 to remove outdated resources.
No related posts available.