Students combat their pandemic stress through exercise
Balancing work, school, and a social life is difficult for most college students during a “normal” school year. Add on a global pandemic and the stress increases. This stress is causing the health of college students to decline both physically and mentally.
According to a survey done by the JED Foundation, 63% of college students are struggling more with mental health now than before the pandemic. They’re dealing with social isolation and increased workloads, which is causing them to feel overwhelmed.
One way that college students are reducing their stress is by exercising. According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, exercising increases endorphins and improves your mood. These benefits reduce the negative effects stress has on college students.
SUNY Brockport senior Abigail Fox says she receives more homework assignments now than before the pandemic. This additional work has caused Fox to be more strained during the day.
“I believe that Covid-19 has made it worse with deadlines and the amount of work given, which has made me more stressed and anxious,” Fox said.
Fox goes to the gym when she can during the week in order to reduce the amount of stress she feels during the day. This physical activity allows her to clear her mind and helps her mental health.
“I think that working out is a good sense of release for me when I am stressed,” Fox said. “Even before Covid-19 I found working out as a nice way to unpack all my stress.”
Staying active has been one-way college students are combatting their daily pressures. Exercising allows them to focus on themselves instead of their to-do lists.
SUNY Brockport senior, Connor Dillon, has been working out every day for the past five years. College students at SUNY Brockport have free gym access at the SERC. This is where Dillon goes every day to lessen some of his stress.
“Working out has definitely improved these issues for me,” Dillon said. “It gives me some time to work on myself and almost escape from the real world for a little bit during the day.”
Dillon struggled with stress and anxiety before the pandemic and says these issues have increased because of the pandemic.
“Not being able to work out or go out as much made the stress and anxiety go up a little bit,” Dillon said.
The pandemic shut down gyms, restaurants, and other places college students could go to relax. Due to these shutdowns, students needed to find an alternative way reduce their stress. Exercising outside is one of the ways students were able to do this.
SUNY Brockport senior, Emily Reeder runs outside to clear her mind. She struggled with her mental health before the pandemic but doesn’t feel that it made her mental health worse.
“I have struggled with stress and anxiety,” Reeder said. “I think working out has helped me manage these issues in a positive way.”
Before the pandemic, Reeder did not work out as much as she does now. She has more time to focus on herself due to the pandemic.
The lives of college students are already hectic without a pandemic mixed in. Being able to reduce the pressure from their daily lives is something college students are focusing on to improve their mental health.
Whether it was running, going to the gym, or working out at home, these college students found a way to reduce their amount of daily stress in a positive way. Staying active has more benefits than building muscle or endurance, it builds self-assurance.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, here is a list of resources from the National Institute of Mental Health.