Stress and uncertainty, the new daily routine on campus with Covid-19: «How to fight anxiety, respect the rules and find the right balance between commitment and rest»
Doubts and fear, fatigue and rules, stress and anxiety. The new everyday life, transformed by the Sars-Cov-2 virus health emergency, affects everyone. Life on campus has also changed, as students, teachers and staff return to frontal lessons after remote teaching during the long lockdown.
“The stress of returning to teaching in classrooms is to be taken into account in this phase of great uncertainty”, explains Prof Giampaolo Perna, Professor of Psychiatry at Humanitas University. “The campus encourages human contact. In this historical era, however, we are all experiencing a greater sense of mistrust that instead hinders that sense of familiarity and belonging. Being in a closed place all day can create discomfort in this period”.
Students, professors and staff are experiencing the return to frontal teaching. What are the challenges?
Uncertainty and the impossibility of knowing what will happen in the coming months trigger a sense of precariousness and anxiety that affects everyone, including those who return to campus. We have to take into account that students, teachers and the administrative staff might experience a sense of fear.
What are the consequences on the daily lives of students?
Fear and discomfort certainly interfere with the attention level in class. If a student is distracted by the environment or by the need to assess his or her own safety, his or her attention will drop. The consequence is greater sense of fatigue due to this tension. The second risk is not being able to fully understand and grasp the concepts explained, and this interferes with the transmission of knowledge.
What changes for teachers holding lessons?
The change from videoconference-based lessons to live lessons on one hand increases the sense of contact and relationship, but on the other hand can cause a sense of discomfort. Wearing the mask makes communication more challenging, as looks and gestures become less clear. This could translate in a greater sense of fatigue for the teacher.
What are the risks to mental health in the medium and long term?
What we are facing today is a prolonged increase in stress levels. In the long term this can lead to an increase in various anxiety and mood disorders. A Hunimed study on the population shows that mental health discomfort has increased during the pandemic. We are currently conducting the second phase, so you are welcome to participate in the survey by answering the online questionnaire.
What can be done to reduce stress and avoid malaise and discomfort?
The first strategy is to reduce the risk by raising awareness and respecting the rules. If someone doesn’t wear a mask or behaves irresponsibly, it will trigger a sense of fear and lack of confidence. This is why to increase the level of confort, rules must be respected carefully. Another good strategy to break the tension is to take more breaks, even short ones, between lessons. Do some physical exercise, walk outdoors for a few minutes. In this sense, having large outdoor spaces on campus helps.
Do you need to organise your days and work differently?
We can’t allow to be constantly stressed, because this reduces the resilience of the human body and the mind. We must also patiently allow ourselves moments of rest and leisure. Non-stop studying and working during this phase can be harmful. Let’s remember that we are running a marathon which will last several months: every now and then we need to slow down and manage our energies. We are all on the alert, the lack of adequate recovery phases can wear people out.