137 Balancing Your Mental Health With A Full Academic Workload

Patience Murrell

As of today, there are many problems facing students attending the University of Pikeville in 2020. There were many changes regarding this academic school year, including a new block scheduling format, and of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. All of this can most definitely put more strain on already stressed out first year students. These high amounts of stress can really take a toll students’ mental health, often causing already struggling students to sink deeper into depression. All of the uncertainty mixed with the stress of the extra work turns into a recipe for disaster. The stress of this school year has personally taken a toll on my mental health, as is the same with a lot of other students. This guide intends to help those who are struggling to keep their mental health in-tact while also trying to keep their grades up. I will talk about my own experiences and struggles from this semester, in hopes that it will encourage another student who could be experiencing the same thing. I will also include a list of tips that help me de-stress, including different ways of self-care.

So far in this block, there have been many hardships, especially for first year students. We’re currently trying to adjust to a brand new way of life, where we are totally responsible for whether or not we succeed or fail. We’re dealing with the pandemic. We had to endure a Level 4 lockdown, isolating us from our friends. It really feels like it’s one negative event after another in 2020.  Throughout this block, it had been one thing after the other for me, and I learned the hard way how easy it was to get behind in your classes. After less than a week without my laptop, I was already failing each of my classes, and every time I would get caught up, I’d end up behind again. It definitely has taken its toll on my mental health, and opening up canvas to a failing grade really doesn’t do much in the way of motivation. However, there are always options to help, and I’m so glad I learned that. However, everyone really learns at their own pace, and no one should feel any shame for the measures they have to take. No matter what, it’s important to take care of yourself, first and foremost.

When trying to salvage my mental health, I realized just how important self-care is in that journey, because when you feel good, your motivation to catch up and maintain your scores, will increase immensely. Self-care is often seen as taboo by some, even though all you are really doing is taking care of yourself. Some self-care tasks can be as simple as meditation or going for a walk to clear your head.

Some Of My Personal Favorite Self-Care Activities:

  • Taking a Walk: Taking a break and going for a walk is often one of the quickest, and easiest ways to clear your head from whatever project you are currently working on, and need a break from. Just as long as you make it back to the project!
  • Meditation: Meditation is another simple stress reliever, and you can do it anywhere at any time!
  • Have a Small Snack: Taking a break to eat is always important, usually something small and/or healthy is the best option. High protein snacks, such as nuts, are a great choice.
  • Exercise: Similar to taking a walk, exercising and physical movement is a great way to clear one’s head. Exercise also helps energize you which aids in working.


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