Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
A spirit that is not afraid

How to ease your mind with a return to campus

Auburn students walk on the Haley Concourse on the first day of class on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Auburn, Ala.
Auburn students walk on the Haley Concourse on the first day of class on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Auburn, Ala.

This year, students on the concourse will be further apart and wearing masks in order to comply with state and university COVID-19 guidelines. To help combat overwhelming feelings from these changes, the University has been encouraging wellness practices.

Markie Pasternak, a coordinator of A Sound Mind — a campus-wide mental health initiative — emphasized that it’s normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed returning to campus. 

“I think everyone is going to have some amount of anxiety one way or another - depending on who you are,” Pasternak said. 

One technique that Pasternak recommended was to start a meditation practice, which can give tools to combat anxiety. Meditation uses breath and visualizations that are beneficial in calming the mind, she said.

“It’s training yourself on how to respond to anxiety-provoking situations,” she said. 

Practicing gratitude can also be beneficial as it helps keep the mind positive by appreciating the little things, Pasternak said.  

In addition to these practices, Pasternak also said that it can be helpful to talk about our anxiety, and through health promotion and wellness, wellness coaching is available.

“Students can talk one-on-one with a peer health coach, who are other students that have been trained to be a health coach about any sort of wellness issues that are not clinical,” she said.

However, if the anxiety or related emotions begin to disrupt daily life, that is a sign to seek a mental health professional, she said. It is important to check in with yourself throughout the day and notice how your emotions are affecting everyday actions.

“If you can’t go to class or get your work done because you are feeling so anxious, that means you need to contact the counseling center,” she said

Reita Clanton, a coordinator of mindfulness-based performance and health optimization, said that it’s important to focus on where energy is focused. 

“Energy flows where attention goes,” she said.

Clanton said our energy is neutral, but our thoughts are what give it direction. Using our thoughts, we choose where we send our energy and, because of this, it’s important how we start our day. 

“How you start your day has a tremendous impact on the energy and awareness you carry with you throughout your day,” she said.

Rather than reaching for our phones in the morning, Clanton said we should start by connecting with ourselves through our breath and setting an intention. Setting an intention can guide us throughout the day. If we get off track, we use our breath to center ourselves. 

“An intention is not a goal,” she said. “An intention is more energetic. It’s a purposeful awareness of how you want to show up.” 

Ford Dyke, an assistant clinical professor in the school of kinesiology, said the mind and body are interconnected and we need to care for our body to care for our mind.

“Whatever is coming into our system, it’s going to change the way in which we process, the way in which we have an output,” he said.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Auburn Plainsman delivered to your inbox

Dyke said to take the time to question what we are eating and if it is fresh and from the earth. It’s also important that students make an effort to be physically active throughout the day, especially with most classes being online.

“Between those sessions, you should get up,” Dyke said. “You should go outside. You should get some fresh air.”

Dyke said to also keep in mind a consistent, quality sleep schedule allowing the mind and body to recover. Consider sleep as a way to prepare for the next day, he said. 

“To promote our cognitive wellbeing, we need to meet our physical needs,” he said. “By starting small in one area, it can create a positive impact overall,” he said. 

Abigail Murphy | Operations Editor

Abigail Murphy, senior in journalism with minors in history and women and gender studies, is the operations managing editor at The Auburn Plainsman. 


Share and discuss “How to ease your mind with a return to campus” on social media.