6 Tips for Students to Strengthen Mental Health During Covid-19

There are only a few regions in the world that have managed to bring Covid under some control. But in many places, new variants, lockdown measures, and health issues are still majorly impacting daily life. Especially for students who have their hopes set on returning to China, two years of a pandemic and travel restrictions seem almost impossible to bear. 

Waiting to return to in-person education can feel hopeless and draining. After only one in-person semester of my courses at the Yenching Academy of Peking University, having to take online classes for the remaining 1.5 years felt surreal. During these times, it’s more important than ever to take care of your mental health. 

What can you do in your daily life to keep yourself healthy while dealing with a pandemic for months on end? 

Online Classes- mental health during covid

Tip 1: Allow yourself to turn off the news

Watching news reports, checking Covid numbers and international travel statistics, and watching friends on social media take vacations is not a very healthy distraction. Overloading yourself with news can make you feel more stressed if you compare yourself to others and worry about what you can’t control. Log off of social media for a bit. The news will be there when you return.

Tip 2: Get some fresh air and movement

Like all living things, humans need sunlight and fresh air to survive and stay healthy. Going for a short walk outside, or even just sitting outdoors will help your body find a natural rhythm and stay healthy. It’s also more difficult for the virus to spread outdoors. Go for a walk, jog, swim, or hike at least every other day.

Couple walking- mental health during Covid

Tip 3: Invest in your local community

The biggest mental health danger in Covid is loneliness. Locking yourself away in your room for quarantine or to take online classes is unhealthy in the long term. If there are fellow students in your area, organize in-person study sessions or group calls to review material. Try exploring the volunteering opportunities or community centers in your neighborhood. Pandemics are a community affair, and we can only get through these times by thinking of our neighbors and helping each other stay safe. 

Masked volunteers give out food - mental health during Covid
Hindus mark Thaipusam by offering food to the needy.

Tip 4: Have a hobby for yourself

It’s common for people to turn a hobby like writing, art, or dancing into a career or side gig. You can do this if you want, but it’s important to have something that you like to do just for yourself without any commercial or contractual obligations. Take time each week to do something you personally enjoy without feeling the pressure of needing to make it a side hustle. Try yoga, drawing, painting, jewelry making, or poetry. You don’t need to be good at a hobby to enjoy it!

girl reading a book with a coffee mug- mental health during covid

Tip 5: Make alternate plans

The unfortunate reality is that no one knows concretely when China’s borders will open to students. While you may still have a passion for studying China, at this stage it’s wise to make other plans in your home city or region while you wait so you don’t drive yourself crazy. There are dozens of short-term online Chinese classes, business programs, certificates, and boot camps that you can do to keep your connection with China strong in the meantime. Chinese companies operate worldwide, and your remote experience at a Chinese university could also help you land an internship or job at one of these locations. 

Tip 6: Ask for help if you need it!

Enduring a global pandemic as a student is not easy. If you are struggling with mental health issues, reach out for help: parents or guardians, friends, counselors, therapists, and psychologists. Oftentimes, talking about your feelings and seeking professional help is the best option and can take some of the burden off your shoulders. Take care of yourself!

Therapy- mental health during Covid

China Admissions is committed to providing international students with the most up-to-date information and online resources to help you succeed in your Chinese education. Check out some of these resources here:

Best FREE Ways to Self-Study Chinese Online
7 Best Apps To Learn Chinese For FREE in 2021/2022
UPDATE: Covid and Online Classes
Global Admissions Tracker: Where can students travel to right now?


Savannah Billman has a master's degree in Chinese Law and Society at the Yenching Academy of Peking University. She holds a B.A. from NYU Shanghai and has also written for The World of Chinese, TechNode, SupChina, and Sixth Tone.
Savannah Billman

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