The COVID-19 pandemic changed the lives of many and continues to be a daunting topic. With the challenge of processing a pandemic, students are faced with many new adaptations and finding a “new normal.”

After being inside and closed off for months on end, emerging from the pandemic can be confusing. For Taylor Deleruyelle, a junior studying biological sciences, it was nothing less of an adjustment.

“It's been really hard, and I feel like during the pandemic, my procrastination, which was already bad, got even worse,” Deleruyelle said. “I'm finding it’s a harder time keeping myself organized and on track of my assignments – hard to sit down and realize ‘Oh, my gosh, I'm even worse than before.’ Now, I have to figure out a whole new way to deal with that.”

Despite facing the unknown, Deleruyelle feels there’s still an upside: the pandemic has provided growth through learning how to deal with adjustments. It has been a time of reflection and learning how to improve for Deleruyelle.

However, finding ways to improve isn’t easy for everyone. Shannon Gray, psychology doctoral intern at Ohio University’s Counseling and Psychological Services, or CPS, said times like these are not easy, but there are ways to find help.

“We encourage students to acknowledge that we are living in challenging times,” Gray said in an email. “Once each student has recognized how they have been personally impacted; it is our hope that they can begin to better support themselves. Students may need to display more patience and grace towards their own experiences, in recognition of recent events.”

Gray said reflection can be done through intentional socializing, academic and program demands, organization requirements as well as other interactions with family, friends and administrators.

Paige Klatt, mental health support coordinator at CPS, said it’s important for students to find something outside of school and work to build connections with others.

“We each come with different levels of comfortability, and we deserve to give ourselves some grace during this transition,” Klatt said in an email. “For some students this can look like getting involved in student organizations, while for others it’s finding time to meet up with one or a couple of people for coffee or lunch.”

Klatt said if students are struggling during this transition, CPS encourages them to reach out using the number 740-593-1616 to schedule an appointment with a counselor. There are many other ways to reach out to find help.

Aside from finding help through OU, students are also able to use Athens as an outlet to help them cope through these demanding times.

Places like Donkey Coffee & Espresso, 17 W. Washington St. and the Front Room Coffeehouse in University Baker Center have open mic nights and allow ways for people to meet others. There are other events in Athens providing distractions and entertainment after a long day.

“There is something for everyone here,” Klatt said in an email. “Getting involved helps everyone feel more connected and get through tough times.”

Deleruyelle said acclimating to campus was a challenge, but she’s ready to start talking to people in a social setting because she’s been deprived of social interaction for so long. 

“During quarantine, I was definitely at one of the lowest points in my life,” Deleruyelle said. “If I could just look back and tell them, ‘Hold on. You can get through it. Try to do the things that you need to do for the day. It's just getting through the day – focusing on the present.’ You are one step closer to feeling OK and normal again.”

The pandemic has changed the times and will continue to propose new challenges for many, but there are ways to avoid the existential crises many feel are sneaking up on them.

“It’s about finding what fits best for you,” Gray said in an email.