Thompson Rivers University

TRU Student Life navigates COVID-19: supports, strategies and resources

  Posted on: March 31, 2020

Dealing with extraordinarily stressful and disruptive circumstances can impact our bodies and brains in any number of ways. Experiencing a crisis can remind us of past trauma and exacerbate ongoing mental health concerns. Stress can intensify anxiety, which can unravel into a downward spiral of obsessive thoughts about worst-case-scenarios. These experiences can activate our “fight, flight, freeze or fawn” response—which is when our nervous system automatically takes over and indicates how we should respond in terms of safety measures that range from people-pleasing to self-defense. Your emotional pendulum could swing erratically from anxiety to anger, or you could feel numb or detached.

No matter how you’re feeling, know that you aren’t alone; there’s a collective feeling of concern, uncertainty and change, but there’s also a sense of connection. It’s important to understand that our campus community is still connected, and that support is available. Re-establish a sense of calm and balance through some careful planning, processing, and collaboration with a supportive network. Over time, these responses will become more manageable because of the increased use and implementation of coping strategies.

Below is a list of strategies, exercises and resources. Be patient with yourself and others as you navigate challenges, and explore different avenues to learning, working and connecting.

Access supports.

As TRU goes through a transition towards greater learning from a distance, the university remains open and Student Services are still available. The landscape has shifted in how we access support and information, but that connection is still possible through phone, email and other virtual methods.

Take care of your body.

Breathe, stretch, and meditate. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Stay hydrated. Step outside (the great outdoors haven’t been cancelled!). Get plenty of sleep. Bathe regularly. Launder your clothes. Avoid or limit alcohol and substances. Take precautionary measures to prevent illness, like consistent hand washing, appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette, staying at home when sick, and practicing social distancing. If you need medical attention, the Medical Clinic is available for virtual appointments or call 811 to speak to a health service navigator, who can help you find health information and services.

TIP: TRU Recreation and other community partners are posting yoga sessions and virtual fitness classes online if you need a boost of guidance and accountability.

Develop a mental health plan.

We are living in extraordinary and unprecedented times. This kind of global anxiety and uncertainty could activate pre-existing mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Connect with your counsellor or support network to establish some coping strategies.

TIP: Counselling services are available virtually! Schedule an appointment by emailing studentservices@tru.ca. 

Press pause on news and social media.

Stay attuned to updates about this ever-evolving situation, but take breaks from the news cycles and social media. It’s equally important to check your sources to ensure that you’re getting correct information. The university website provides updates, resources, information, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Stay in touch.

Social distancing can feel challenging, especially for extroverted types, or for those that don’t feel accepted at home. Just because we can’t be in the same room doesn’t mean that we can’t stay connected. This is one of the benefits of technology—reach out, check-in, and connect (from afar!). Discuss your concerns, share coping strategies and compare study tips, but do make room for joy and laughter amid all the discomfort and uncertainty.

Establish a routine.

Maintain a sense of normalcy throughout the day. Make a to-do list, divide your time into several digestible portions and tackle tasks in order of priority. If possible, create a workstation at home—avoid the couch during your work hours (especially if you’re afraid of taking accidental naps in the middle of the day). If you need a boost, ditch the pyjamas during daylight hours (no one’s asking you to wear a suit at home, but it might help your brain shift gears). Make time for breaks, exercise and connectivity. Lean on support systems to ensure that you are feeling balanced, productive, and immersed in tasks that feel meaningful and optimistic.