How to Prepare for Back to School During a Pandemic

College life is going to look a little different this fall. 

Many students will be returning to campus in the coming weeks. Others will begin a freshmen year unlike any other. But whether you’re a fish or finisher, this year will require some major adjustments. 

To help you prepare for some of the craziness of college in a pandemic, we’ve put together some tips that will help you stay mentally and physically healthy during these strange times.

Get Creative with Community  

In Genesis, God said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone.

Now we’re stuck being alone a lot, and it’s taking a toll on people’s emotions. 

But how can you live in community while also adhering to health guidelines?

Good question.

It might look like more outdoor activities and less time spent hanging out in close proximity. 

What if you went on a social distanced walk-and-talk around campus instead of meeting up at a coffee shop? 

Or what if you took your cafeteria food to-go and had a (reasonably distanced) picnic with a few friends?

Technology can also help with this problem. Video calls help give you a sense of face to face interaction, and apps like Houseparty allow you to play virtual games with others. Netflix and Hulu even have a new feature where you can chat with friends as you all watch the same movie or TV show. Take it a step further by hosting a group call after and discussing the movie. Who liked it? Who didn’t? Why?

None of these solutions will replace traditional ways of hanging out, but they can at least keep you engaged with others while we all get through this weird time. 

Plus this whole thing forces you to get creative, like these skilled neighbors.

*Maybe don’t try this, though.

Don’t Obsess Over the News

The CDC puts it pretty simply: “Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.”

You might feel a necessity to stay constantly connected, but one thing remains true no matter how many times you check your feed. 

Things are still bad. 

You’re not going to somehow miss the announcement of a cure or a vaccine or anything else. You can take a break. It’ll be okay.

Stepping away from the constant updates lets your mind rest and makes it easier to focus on the good things going on in your life. Paul writes about the value of this in Philipians when he tells his readers to think about things that are honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. 

The news reports hardly fit in any of these categories. 

Stay informed, but don’t sacrifice your wellbeing just to read another article about the rising numbers.   

Keep Social Distancing 

Okay so obviously we didn’t come up with this one or (spoiler alert) the next one, but they’re still important to reiterate, especially since numbers have been rising amongst young people. 

Some say this increase came from a lack of social distancing.

Now, of course, we’re not saying that you haven’t taken the precautions seriously. We’re sure you’re nailing it. 

But help spread the word to other people, too, you know? 

If you have to be out and about, keep your distance. Resist the urge to hug all your friends or shake hands with the new people you’re meeting. It might be time to figure out a new way to show your affection. Jim and Pam can lead the way.

Mask Up

Masks can be annoying. 

No one’s going to fight you on that point. They irritate your skin and stifle communication. You might try an alternative like a face shield, but what you gain back in nonverbal cues, you lose in style. 

It’s a tough situation.

Nonetheless, more and more studies show the effectiveness of social distancing and face coverings to helping prevent spreading

When in doubt, remember what President JFK famously said, (M)ask not what your country can do for you; (m)ask what you can do for your country. 

Keep Thinking of Others

At the end of the day, staying healthy isn’t just about you. It’s about keeping others safe, too. You know, loving your neighbor and stuff. 

Loving your neighbor might mean putting aside your own preferences. You might think this whole pandemic thing has been blown way out of proportion, but the person in your chem class might not. 

It hasn’t affected each of us personally, but it has affected a ton of people. Like literally millions. 

Don’t Put Your Relationship with God on Hold

It’s tough to make God a priority at any point, but it’s even harder during a transition and even harder during a giant world pandemic full of unpredictable changes. 

Still, pursuing God is the most important thing you can do. 

There are a ton of Psalms about God being our refuge, safe space, and protector. Let these words comfort you in the darkest moments. When you’re angry and sad, learn to lament and hope in the fact that one day Christ will return and end all this craziness as he brings us home with him.

This year will for sure look way different than any others, but we can all get through this if we work together. Take care of yourself and others. Follow the guidelines set by the authorities and your school. Stay responsibly connected and stay away from the news sometimes. 

More than anything, though. Stay connected to Christ. He will bring you the hope required to get you through this.

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