Many of us have had to make significant changes to our everyday lives in the face of uncertainty and adversity related to COVID-19. As life continues to change, it’s important that we show ourselves compassion through this process. Here are some ways to cope and practice resiliency during COVID-19.

Keep in touch

Keep in touch and check in on your family, friends, classmates and colleagues. Ask how they’re doing and let them know you care. If you’re struggling, identify someone close to you who you trust and talk through things with.

Get connected on campus

Connecting with other students can help you feel more connected to campus and CU. There are lots of ways to get involved and meet new friends, even if things are different. Here are a number of resources to help you meet new people and make lasting connections.

  • Center for Student Involvement (CSI)
    CSI manages a number of programs for students, including Greek life, student organizations, book clubs, events and more! Through BuffConnect you can connect with student organizations on campus. You can filter results based on interests, categories and more. Find an organization you care about and meet new people along the way.
  • Rec Center
    There are a variety of ways to find your fit at The Rec and connect with people who share your passions and interests. Join the climbing gym, take a class, sign up for an intramural league, go on an outdoor adventure or try something totally new.
  • Center for Inclusion and Social Change (CISC)
    CISC provides educational experiences, community building, involvement opportunities, resources and inclusive gathering spaces for students on campus.
  • Health and Wellness Programs
    Health and Wellness Services has a variety of programs that run throughout the fall and spring semesters to support students. Attend a Wellness Wednesday to learn about self-care or socialize at a Fri-Yay Night event.
  • Campus events and activities
    Check out all of the events hosted by Student Affairs on campus this semester! Join events in person or virtually.

Set boundaries with yourself

Whether you’re reading the news or scrolling through social, it can be hard to get away from negative news and information. That’s why it’s important to set healthy boundaries for ourselves. Boundaries serve an important role in our lives, especially when we are feeling anxious or experiencing a crisis.

  • Limit your consumption. If you feel the urge to stay updated, allow yourself to read the news or scroll through social posts, but practice putting limits on how much you consume. This could mean that you only allow yourself to look at news in the morning or you can set a timer on your phone to allow yourself 10 minutes to get caught up on the latest updates.
  • Turn off your notifications. Does your phone constantly go off with new headlines or alerts related to COVID-19? Turning off your notifications can help you ease the anxiety you may experience from constant updates, notifications and changes. It will also make it easier to check the news less frequently.
  • Know your comfort zone. Public health guidelines are in place to keep us all safe and healthy. However, not everyone will react the same way to these policies. Know your comfort zone. Identify the things you’re okay with and those that make you feel uncomfortable. For instance, maybe you’re okay with having a couple friends over for game night, but you feel uncomfortable going to a party on The Hill. It can be helpful to write these down or journal about them to help you make decisions that feel right for you.  

Set boundaries with others

Knowing what we need and communicating our needs clearly can help to protect our own mental health and energy. Here are some examples of things you can say to set boundaries with those around you:

  • “I don’t want to talk about COVID-19 right now. Can we talk about something else instead?”
  • “I appreciate that you want to help me stay informed by sharing news articles and links, but I’m good for right now/I'd prefer if you didn't."
  • “I respect your opinion on this situation, and I am allowing myself to come to my own conclusions.”
  • “I know you’re trying to be helpful and I appreciate it, but I need space to experience and process my own emotions about this.”
  • “I know wearing a mask may not be comfortable, but it’s better than being sick and is a way to protect all of us.”

Move your body

Physical activity and movement are great ways to relieve stress, get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air. Make it a habit to stay active throughout the day and week. The Rec Center on campus has a number of options for students, including weight rooms, lap swimming, classes, intramural sports leagues, outdoor adventures and more. Find activities that work for your schedule and make you feel good.

If you’re not up for going to the gym, consider taking your movement outside with yoga, hiking, biking, water activities or going for a walk. Remember to bring water, sunscreen and a face covering with you. Even when you’re outdoors, it’s important to maintain 6 feet of space between you and other people.

Get a good night’s sleep

Getting adequate sleep (7-9 hours each night) can help improve our mental and physical health, reduce stress and improve our memory. Sleep also plays a key role in our ability to learn and retain and can impact our mood and energy levels throughout the day.

You can improve the quality and duration of your sleep by turning off your electronics at least one hour before you go to bed, setting up an ideal sleep environment (quiet, cool and dark), avoiding caffeine or exercise at night and working on a bedtime routine that includes relaxing activities to help you settle in.

Practice self-care

Self-care is any activity that we intentionally do to take care of our own mental, emotional and physical health. Sometimes, self-care is short term, like eating a sweet treat. Other times, self-care is more long term, like learning how to budget or getting enough sleep each night. The important thing to remember is that self-care looks different for everyone. If someone else’s version of self-care doesn’t match your own, that’s okay. Do what you need to do to feel better.

Here are some ways that you can start practicing self-care:

  • Drinking water throughout the day
  • Staying in touch with loved ones
  • Being hopeful
  • Getting outdoors
  • Continuing or starting therapy online
  • Meditating
  • Tending to your emotions
  • Exploring new hobbies or interests
  • Unfollowing or muting accounts that are too much for you right now
  • Practicing gratitude

Create a routine

Creating a sustainable routine can help ease anxiety and worries we may have around uncertainty. Routines can also be a great way to work self-care activities into our everyday lives. When creating a routine, start small and take steps that are sustainable for you. For instance, it may be helpful to study in the same place or set up a morning routine where you journal for 5 minutes before heading to class. You can also schedule a weekly check in with friends or family members and call them on the same day each week.

Identify areas of control

It may feel like a lot of things are out of your control right now. While this may leave you feeling uneasy, it’s important to identify areas in your life that are within your control. For instance, you may not be able to control if other people follow public health guidelines, but you can control your own reaction to those people. Additionally, you can control how often you wash your hands throughout the day, how you process your thoughts (talking it out, journaling, etc.) and how you keep in touch with friends or family.

Be mindful of negative coping strategies

Sometimes we may use coping strategies that do more harm than good. Using alcohol or drugs, oversleeping too much or numbing ourselves from our feelings may help in the moment, but are likely to cause more problems long term. If you notice you are struggling to cope in a healthy way, you can always ask Health and Wellness Services for help. Check out a number of campus resources below that can help you get on the right track and promote your mental health.

Campus resources

  • Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers a variety of services to CU Boulder students, including a free virtual COVID-19 workshop series. These workshops cover a number of topics related to COVID-19, including mindfulness, anxiety, coping strategies and quarantine. Learn more about the CAPS COVID-19 series.
  • Health Promotion provides outreach and education on a variety of health topics. They support students in learning skills to make informed decisions about their health to help them succeed while at CU and beyond. As part of their programming, they offer Mental Health First Aid training, which prepares students to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis. They also offer Kognito, an online program that trains students to recognize signs of distress and practice challenging conversations in a simulated environment.
  • The Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) provides free and confidential information, consultation, support, advocacy and short term counseling services to University of Colorado Boulder students, graduate students, faculty and staff who have experienced a traumatic, disturbing or life-disruptive event. More information is available through their article “Ways to cope if the pandemic is bringing up past trauma”.
  • The Collegiate Recovery Center (CUCRC) provides support for students in recovery or seeking recovery from substance use and other addictions. The CUCRC is here to help students develop peer-to-peer connections and resiliency. They also provide students, staff and alumni with recovery-related services and resources. This semester they will be offering support meetings, coaching and other services virtually.