Life is changing drastically; students know this all too well. I'm currently a senior music therapy major at Slippery Rock University, set to graduate in December 2020. I'd like to share how recent events have affected me during this time.
We were on our regular spring break, and I was in Ohio visiting family and friends when I received an email from our university president saying that spring break was to be extended 2 weeks due to Covid-19. I felt sad because I simply wanted to go back and see my friends who I missed very much. I decided to pass time by working a whole lot, as in a 52-hour week for one of the two extra weeks. We then received another email stating that classes will be switched to an online platform early into our “spring break: week 2”. That was devastating. I hadn't had the chance to say a proper goodbye to my friends and classmates. Performances, concerts, and teaching bassoon to my students were things that I had so looked forward to.
Our online courses are formatted in a way that lets students do the work at our own pace, as long as deadlines for assignments are met. Although I was very grateful for this, it also left me with a lot of free time. This is when I truly realized how important self-care was.
My Self Care
I have found that cooking myself a nice dinner or making a snack is a great way to treat myself each day. I do my best to not feel guilty for indulging!
Watching shows/playing video games:
I've been watching YouTube videos and catching up on old shows. I am also playing more video games. I am really loving Mario games and the new Animal Crossing game. It’s nice to be able to have hobbies again and partake in another activity to break up the day. I have friends who also have the same games, and we can connect that way.
Talking to friends:
I am very thankful that the internet exists during this pandemic! I have enjoyed using social media to connect with friends and family daily. Being able to talk to them and even see them on video calls has helped me continue to feel social and connected.
I have taken on some home projects, which I find help to ease my mind and distract me from anxieties. In the tiny apartment that I live in, clutter can pile up quickly, and I find being on top of cleaning and organizing my space helps my mental state. It also simply passes the time and is something that makes me feel good!
Playing music for myself:
Recently, I posted a video of myself singing on Facebook. It was so nice to play and sing for my own enjoyment. Even in this hard time, it's still important to play for ourselves. Our field (of study) is constantly making music for others, and it's important not only for professionals but also for students to remember to make music for ourselves. No goals, no objectives, no charting - just playing for us!
Finding little tricks that help get me in the work-zone has been important. I find that a change of scenery from my bedroom to my living room can really do the trick for me.
Through this experience, I am learning to be able to just let myself feel what I need to, eat what I crave, and be okay with non-productive days. Remembering that we are going through a traumatic experience and that not every day needs to be focused on school has helped me tremendously.
While school and work are a significant priority for me, being able to take care of myself and have some fun are equally important. If I cannot take care of myself, how can I bring my best work to the table?
I hope that by sharing my experience I can inspire other students and professionals to begin prioritizing self-care. Our profession focuses so much on helping and supporting others. Let's not forget about ourselves during this time!