Counselors offer advice for new semester

Ehlich, Watko note the need for continuing self-care

Director+of+counseling+Mrs.+Gretchen+Watko+00+provided+an+update+on+services+that+are+available+for+students.++

Cathedran file photo

Director of counseling Mrs. Gretchen Watko ’00 provided an update on services that are available for students.

Hope Sultzer, Reporter

Off campus: Packed buildings, bustling malls and people greeting each other with a hug are no more.

On campus: No more flex, no more attending school assemblies or eating in the cafeteria. All of our lives changed last March due to the coronavirus pandemic and then changed again in November when the campus switched back to online instruction.

Because of these changes, mental health counselor Mrs. Sarah Ehlich and counseling director Mrs. Gretchen Watko ‘00, along with the entire counseling staff, are here to help.

Watko said, “Each of us experience this (pandemic) differently. I think it can affect people who were mentally healthy. I think it can also affect those who prior to this pandemic had mental health challenges.”

Everyone needs take to time for themselves and partake in activities that keep them happy and active. Ehlich said, “Boredom typically leads to depression.” This is why people should make routines and try new activities and hobbies. “Do anything that is good and creative, like yoga, mindfulness, journaling, art, dance and yoga,” she said, adding that taking time to try new things will have a positive effect. Self-care is also important during this time.

Watko said, “A big part of self-care is creating structure and routine to help us stay disciplined and that is something we have control over so when we are dealing with a pandemic and things that are so big and out of our control being able to focus on those things that we do have direct control over can also make us feel a little more centered and at peace.

“Reflect on how you feel, eliminate the things in life that make you feel bad or weigh you down. Identify the things that do work and incorporate those into your routine,” Watko said.

Both Watko and Ehlich suggest that taking time for yourself and spending time with others can help you to feel more connected to those around you. Share and cherish the time spent with loved ones. And really appreciate the time spent with those family members and friends.

Watko practiced what she preached.

She said, “I just keep reminding myself that this will have an end point, maybe not as quickly as I anticipated or hoped, but it will end. I also find creative ways to see friends, (such as) walks outside, Zooms, outdoor and spaced out get togethers. I was able to spend more time with my very young daughter, so last year’s quarantine had a little bit of a silver lining for me. No new hobbies. I wish I had the down time for that.

“My day to day has not changed very much. I do always make sure to get some outside physical exercise time into my day. So I love to go on runs and walks. I also enjoy cooking and finding new recipes to try when I have the time.”