By Macy Wilbanks
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (mocsnews.com) It’s not news that COVID-19 has had an exponential effect on our lives in the past year and a half. Our daily routines have been discarded and reformed to mold into a new world.
The US is already starting to function again. With over 42.5% of the adult US population fully vaccinated as of June 6, states are beginning to relax their COVID restrictions.
However, Tennessee is in the bottom six compared to the rest of the nation with only 39.7% of adults vaccinated with their first dose. Many institutions within the state are following suit and relaxing restrictions with the hope of more vaccines to be distributed over the course of the summer.
Among these new leniencies UTC has announced that campus will run on full operations in the Fall.
What does this mean regarding mental health?
This may sound like good news on the surface, and it is wonderful news that the world is healing from such constant sickness and fear, but many have experienced mental health struggles on varying levels due to the changes in our lives caused by COVID-19.
Our nation, state, and campus became comfortable with the restrictions set upon us an learned how to function with them. In the fall our campus and students will have to adapt back to another way of living and socializing.
Every student, staff member, and faculty member will have their own way of adjusting. Some may experience a condition known as adjustment disorder; Mayo Clinic says, “signs and symptoms depend on the type of adjustment disorder and can vary from person to person. You experience more stress than would normally be expected in response to a stressful event, and the stress causes significant problems in your life.”
If you yourself are feeling hesitant or anxious about returning to full capacity campus, you’re not the only one.
Senior mathematics major Emily Miller spoke about her feelings regarding the fall semester, “Honestly, I’m not quite sure. Sometimes my anxiety about being in spaces where people aren’t wearing masks makes it impossible for me to function. But I know that getting out of the house more often and seeing people will help me not be as depressed. So I’m not sure if I’ll be doing better or worse.”
Whether you’re someone who loves change or finds it more difficult, there are ways to still be safe while on campus and in the classroom:
Continue to wear a mask if that makes you feel more comfortable. The CDC recommends wearing a mask if you’re unvaccinated.
Get the vaccine. It is the best option of protection. If you are not vaccinated, here is a link to UTC campus health services where you can receive your vaccine for free.
Wash your hands, duh!
If there is room, sit a few seats down from your classmate(s).
Eat lunch or study outside.
Be gentle with yourself if you become anxious while on campus. Your mind and body have not seen life operate like such in over a year.
Life has been adapted to accommodate restrictions, online school, and limited proper social gatherings and interactions. Start to socialize in the ways you feel comfortable.
If you do find yourself to be struggling with the transition of the fall semester, here are some options for on campus assistance.