Mental health in the midst of COVID-19

A student journals about her thoughts and mental health on day 15 of quarantine.

Inevitably, a global pandemic will leave the global population frazzled, anxious, and uncertain. This period of time that we are undergoing is unprecedented and unique, and it is anxiety-inducing. But in the midst of this all, it is important to remember that your mental health is so important, and keeping yourself sane through small steps is in your best interest. 

I have no doubt that all of us are struggling with being confined at home. Those of us used to being outside are especially finding it hard to adjust. Personally, I have always associated home with nothing but sleeping, since I would always endeavor to finish my work, both jobs and schoolwork, on campus, and would only go home once I was completely done. That is why it has been hard for me to find any real motivation to do anything, being stuck at home as I am. But finding my motivation is important, and trying to find some semblance of the routine I had is also key to my mental health. For me personally, I often go on evening walks among the dense trees and rushing rivers of Pennsylvania; not a lot of individuals tend to be out, and so I am not endangering anyone, I am simply engaging in an act that I know aids in this adjustment time to being at home constantly. 

Put a specific time aside to browse through the news. Personally, I have my notifications for news set for breaking news. However, when the breaking news is a constant stream of updates on the pandemic, I've found it usually just adds to my stress and general hopelessness surrounding this epidemic. But it is always important to stay informed. To ensure this, I have put aside a specific hour (7 p.m. every night) to scroll through news updates. This way, my phone is not bursting with news updates that are bound to distract me. Instead, I have the mental preparedness at my designated hourly night of news reading. 

With the introduction of a new interface of classes, and the gradual transition of classes going online, try to actually follow the routine you would normally when attending in-person classes. I have found it is too easy to lose oneself to the restraints of lethargy and laziness, especially when one is confined at home. It is too easy to skip classes that simply require logging in online, muting the button, and hiding the webcam. It is even harder to wake up for classes that still meet online at the regularly scheduled 8 a.m. time slot (believe me, I know). But maintaining that routine and fighting hard not to lose yourself in forgetting to fulfill assignments is a must in being successful at school; after all, life does not pause. If anything, it ricochets with changing times. 

Take this time to reconnect with family. We cannot excuse the fizzling out of familial relationships any longer because we have all the time in the world to rebuild them. I have found the quiet nights sitting in companionship with my brother to help in cementing our already-strong relationship. I have used this time to engage in conversations with my mother, to discover more about my father, and to heal any relationships that may have been lacking before. 

Your mental health is incredibly important, especially in a time so precarious and uncertain. Therefore, it is in your best interest to secure a form of normalcy in your life. Reconnect, try to heal, find your space, and seek your niche of sanity. 

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