Most college students around the world have been taking their courses by distance learning for almost a year now. Some have felt their social bonds seriously weaken.
According to a French study, one in three students shows signs of psychological distress related to isolation. It’s a tough situation, and it’s hard to know how to help. Here are some ideas that can make life a little better for students learning at home.
1Have a morning ritual
The minutes after waking up are decisive in influencing the rest of the day. Developing a routine can be very valuable.
To start your day, and before doing anything else, take 10 minutes to pray in silence. It’s a bit like setting your counter back to zero. It’s a way of finding yourself, finding your inner breath. Breathe slowly and deeply, and sink into silence, like a submarine reaching deep water. It’s the most beautiful gift of your morning, to come out boosted and centered on the essential.
After praying, why not have breakfast with something beautiful before your eyes? Contemplating a piece of sky or a beautiful image on your computer for a few minutes is a way to inspire your dreams and your most creative ideas.
2Punctuate your day with short prayers
One of the simplest forms of prayer is the aspiration or arrow prayer, which consists in brief petitions, praises or offerings directed to God. They can be taken from the psalms, the Scriptures, or borrowed from a saint.
Each person can find the phrase that inspires them most. Some common examples include “Jesus, I trust in you” (St. Faustina), “Come quickly to help me, Lord! “(Psalm 70), “I surrender myself to you” (Fr. Dolindo Rutuolo), or just “My God, I love you.”
Raising a little prayer to God during the day helps us to remain united to Him, to return to Him in moments of anguish and to act in His presence. This means never feeling abandoned, isolated and alone.
Another idea is to stick Post-it notes with these brief prayers all over the room. Of course, they don’t replace your normal prayer time, but they play the role of keeping you in spiritual shape throughout the day!
3Participate in a spiritual retreat from home
Confinement can offer the opportunity to experience a time of spiritual retreat without leaving home. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, for example, could significantly help us during this time of uncertainty. St. Ignatius’s own vocation was born in a time of crisis and great upheaval, and what we are living at this time isn’t far from that experience.
Other online retreats are offered by different Catholic ministries and institutions. They can help us to dissipate anxiety, and to discern and reflect upon what we are living from a deeper perspective. This will allow us to find inner peace, gratitude and even joy.
4Entrust yourself to the patron saint of students
It’s easy to drop out of online courses and lose motivation to prepare for exams. Turn to St. Joseph of Cupertino, the patron saint of stressed students. Burdened with serious learning difficulties, he nevertheless managed to climb all the way up to the priesthood … with help from Heaven!
In 1628, Joseph, then a deacon, asked to enter the priesthood. The first postulants who presented themselves for the examination left the president of the jury, the bishop of Castro, convinced that the latter would be as brilliant as the former. He admitted all the candidates, without requiring the remaining students to present their exam. So it was that Joseph received priestly ordination on March 4, 1628, having been exempted from an examination that he would probably have had difficulty passing.
Follow this link for a prayer to St. Joseph of Cupertino to be prayed before an examination. His intercession can be a great help to you!
5Get help from St. Thomas Aquinas
In the absence of face-to-face classes for months on end, how can we overcome difficulties of comprehension, memorize material and stay the course? St. Thomas Aquinas, a master in this field, gives us his advice.
In a letter to Brother John “on the method of study,” he invites us not to begin by trying to solve great difficulties. Instead, he says to go forward step by step, starting with easier things.
Another piece of advice he gives is not to forget to pray, and to keep your conscience clean. He encourages students to be critical thinkers, “verifying what is doubtful.”
6Little gestures of closeness to relatives and friends
In times of crisis, “it’s the familiar gestures of attention to the small details of each day that give meaning to life and make communion and communication between us possible,” Pope Francis said in a telephone interview with Italian news outlet La Republica on March 18.
You might call someone close to you on the phone: It’s an important gesture that’s really valuable and a joy, not only for those who receive, but also for those who give. “If we approach these days in this way, it won’t be time wasted,” the pope said.
7Smile and give thanks
It’s not easy to cultivate the reflex to savor the small pleasures of everyday life when you feel abandoned and alone. But it’s an exercise that’s quite beneficial.
Gratitude cultivates our potential for adaptation and our ability to be happy, because it teaches us to welcome and appreciate all the good that comes our way. It allows us to rediscover the happiness of being ourselves without artifice.
Before making the usual to-do list of the day’s challenges, make a list of the little joys you have that day. It’s like smiling, which is the best anti-stress remedy: The more you smile, the more life smiles at you.
Similarly, the more you give thanks, the more graces fill your daily life, even in times of confinement.
8Hold on to hope
It’s difficult to understand why the world is in such a threatening and confusing “state of emergency.” How can we hold on to hope?
John Paul II’s answer is quite clear. His message of hope is well summed up in the title of his book written in 1994, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. In it, John Paul II evokes the word of God to the good and faithful servant of the parable of the talents: “Enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21).
“Jesus is Lord; He alone saves humanity, today as yesterday and always,” he writes. This helps us recall the Christian message of hope in the Cross, and that God himself declares his love for us tirelessly.
Two Catholic universities using new technology to protect campuses from COVID