Right now, everyone is preparing to go back to school or may have already dived into their studies weeks ago. You may be reading your syllabi for your classes, jotting down deadlines into your planner, or trying to figure out the time it will take for you to walk from your apartment to your class without being late (if you’re taking classes in-person).

It’s a difficult and stressful time for everyone. Whether you’re a university student or a high-school student, we know it’s not going to be a normal year. Many of us are anxious, wondering if it’s a good idea to move back to campus, especially when we don’t know if we will be forced to move back home within a week or two.

With all of this stress piling on our shoulders, it will be difficult to manage everything without being burned-out by the end of the day. Some of us love to socialize, but unfortunately, we aren’t able to do so without endangering our loved ones or our friends in the process. You may become lonely, worried, and begin to detach yourself from your everyday life. Your mental health may go down the drain, and that is not okay.

For those who love to socialize, or need something that will help make them relax, I would suggest joining an extracurricular activity.

Of course, joining an extracurricular in-person may not be the best idea. However, with many universities/schools offering online courses for the fall semester, there’s no doubt that they will be offering extracurricular activities online as well.

For example, I’m in MSA (Muslim Student Association) at my university. At the beginning of every school year, MSA hosts a “Lunch Buddies” program. This program helps to connect students with others who are in the same major as you so that you will feel more included and ready to tackle the new school year. Usually, we fill out a google-form and get put into a group with other Muslims who are in the same major as us, and from there, we figure out where we want to meet up and go out for lunch. Unfortunately, this year, we can’t do that. However, that’s not going to stop MSA from hosting its annual “Lunch Buddies” program. Instead of going out, MSA decided to host their program on Zoom throughout the entire first day of school. Though it will not be the same as meeting in-person, we still have a chance to make new friends and connect with those who are in the same boat as us.

I know that all universities/schools don’t have an MSA program and that’s okay. But if whichever school you attend is hosting their extracurriculars online, don’t be afraid to join. It’ll be a nice break from all of the craziness that is your life, and who knows, you may end up developing a life-long friendship with someone in one of the online extracurriculars!

So, don’t be afraid to try. This is a difficult time for all of us, but we must push through and persevere. It’s also normal to be upset and anxious about what the future holds, so please don’t hesitate to contact your counselors or vent it out to your friends via text. This year is definitely like no other, but by joining an extracurricular activity that will help give your mind a break, it may become one of the best choices you ever made.