COVID-19 is impacting the mental and physical health of students

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Zulfiqar Ahmed

Opinion writer Summer Fitzgerald is stressed looking at her computer screen.

DeKALB —The COVID-19 pandemic has created many barriers for students, including mental and physical health issues.

The consequences of the pandemic, including isolation, job loss and university closures, have contributed to anxiety and depression in young adults.

With the spring semester beginning remotely, NIU students still face the challenges of online learning, such as entertainment, motivation problems and not being able to meet friends and teachers in person. This may be particularly evident with lab or hands-on components, where in-person learning may be the only way to complete a course.

“We have online labs in place if we need them, and our faculty have done a very good job of developing them so that students can get as much learning experience as possible, but they will never be as good. than in person. said Beth Reiter, laboratory manager for NIU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

While Illinois fully reopened last year, the ease and convenience of staying home, watching Netflix, ordering delivery, and even working from home has made going out seem like a chore for some.

With the uncertainty of the pandemic looming, some students have struggled to adopt a healthy routine.

“Making a habit of going somewhere every day is actually shocking,” Reiter said. “You can’t really get into a routine (because you don’t know what to expect).”

Along with mental health issues, COVID-19 has also presented challenges for maintaining physical health.

Fast food and delivery being a convenient option especially during the pandemic, healthy options can be difficult for students to accept.

“(COVID-19) is causing extreme changes in your lifestyle which can cause stress and anxiety, and with quarantine you have to self-isolate,” said Keygan Balaja, graduate student and program intern. Nutrition and Dietetics from NIU.

Staying home and having food accessible can also cause more emotional eating, according to Balaja.

Earlier in the pandemic, COVID-19 restrictions force gyms to close. While home workouts quickly became popular, students probably didn’t have access to the same resources or machines as in a gymnasium.

“I think a lot of students suffer from anxiety which makes people feel stuck, but I want to have an outlet and think of the outdoors as a way to support your health (can be good for students),” said Christine Lagattolla. , assistant director of the Outdoor Adventures program at the NIU Recreation Center.

With more than half of the fully immunized DeKalb County population coupled with looser COVID-19 restrictions, more students have taken advantage of on-campus fitness resources.

“There are a lot of people on the (basketball) courts,” Lagattolla said. “It’s a constant stream of students training, but there are so many factors that have changed over the years and students are going to other gyms as well.”

In addition to hitting the gym, NIU’s Outdoor Adventures program offers a host of outdoor activities, from hiking and camping to ice skating.

“I think it gives (students) a different approach to what it means to be healthy,” Lagattolla said. “You’re going to be tired, you’re going to be tired from school, it’s good to take a break, but at least move. The outdoors is a good opportunity to exercise without thinking about it.

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