Ohio State announced June 3 the fall semester’s academic calendar would be revised to eliminate fall break and shorten the front end of Thanksgiving break in an effort to better control the spread of the coronavirus. Although students still had Labor Day and Veterans Day off, the virtual format of courses caused the classwork of some students to bleed into those breaks.

Allie Kenny, a third-year in the marketing and sports industry, said stress from a fully online class schedule and the lack of breaks left her without the chance to “breathe for a second.”

Kenny said she felt obliged to work through Veterans Day after her professor suggested students attend recitation another day of the week or watch a prerecorded video to make up for the cancellation.

“Even though [Veterans Day] was supposed to be given to us as a day to reset and have off, it’s really not doing much for us because we’re still expected to get the material done regardless, which is something I feel like we wouldn’t be expected to do if we had in-person classes,” Kenny said.

Kenny said she tries to keep a regular day-to-day schedule and to take one day each week as a break from schoolwork — usually Saturday or Sunday. 

James Mulick, professor emeritus of pediatrics and psychology, said in order to reduce stress, students should focus on things they can control such as getting adequate sleep, enough exercise, and proper nutrition. He said amid the lack of formal breaks, it’s especially important for students to schedule time away from class.

“If you don’t schedule self-care activities, you’re going to burn out,” Mulick said. “Stress makes you hyper-aware of how bad you feel.”

If students don’t set aside time for breaks, Mulick said they risk losing productivity as time wears on.

“How many of those hours are good solid work? Because without breaks, they might just be reading the same stuff over and over again,” Mulick said.

Blake Marble, director of the Student Wellness Center, said some of the center’s programs have seen increased use during the pandemic. As a result, the center has increased availability for nutrition coaching, on-campus food pantry Buckeye Food Alliance, wellness coaching, financial coaching, and substance use support services. 

The Office of Student Life also partnered with the Undergraduate Student Government to host a “recess week” Oct. 12-16 during which organizations were encouraged to cancel or reduce meetings to focus on self-care. 

“Student Life also offered a variety of programs during that week aimed at encouraging students just to take a break, relax, play a little bit,” Marble said.

He said there are plans for another recess week next semester as well.

Marble said wellness coaching can help students improve their overall well-being, and appointments can generally be made within a day or two. He said if the Wellness Center recognizes a student’s need for additional support, it can refer that student to Ohio State’s Counseling and Consultation Services.

Students can schedule appointments for wellness coaching, nutrition services, alcohol and drug prevention services, and other resources on the Student Wellness Center website. Students can schedule a phone screening with Counseling and Consultation services on its website.