Mental health during COVID-19

Julia Bisson, Staff Writer

With so much hysteria and panic around the globe due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, many people are left feeling anxious, scared, and hopeless. While all of this is going on around us, it is really important not to forget to take care of what is going on inside of us too! Self care is not selfish, but essential to maintaining a quality of life that you deserve, even in the face of a worldwide pandemic driven by fear-mongering media.

For some people, the signs that were put up in all public spaces roughly three weeks ago were a constant reminder of the impending virus that has been fast spreading since the beginning of this year. Commons had switched over to non-reusable cups, and advised to avoid bringing in personal containers. schools around the country, including NESCACS have been shut down or began online courses to reduce and avoid the spread of COVID-19. 

For many, reality hit with the email we received on the 13th, ending our normal school year, and moving students out by the 17th. Everyone was taken aback at their newly emptied rooms, left as sterile and lifeless as they were on move-in day. Saying goodbye to friends, who we often think of as family, for five months, putting belongings in storage units, and going out on the last night night together  all seemed to come too quickly. This overwhelming rush of emotions, with the realization that some of the events we see in the news, can actually affect us. The U.S. isn’t as untouchable and sheltered from the strife of the outside world as we thought it was. 

Although the precautions being taken to #flattenthecurve – as many have seen or posted about on social media platforms – have hit close to home, the most important thing to be aware of is that these precautions are in place to keep us safe. If nothing changed and schools and countries carried on with business as usual, the outbreak would spread to more people, and the number of cases would outnumber the amount of resources and hospital space available. 

The best way to deal with the disruptions to our daily lives is to embrace them. focus on what you can do in this situation. This may seem small, but it is empowering. Wash your hands… correctly! Avoid touching your face, practice proper hygiene, self isolate if you are feeling sick, quarantine if you have come into contact with others carrying the virus. Stay home and practice social distancing! These changes may seem drastic and even a little overwhelming, but it is the most important thing you can do to keep you and others healthy. Many of these guidelines should be adapted into everyday life not just in the face of this outbreak, but in the future. Knowing that you have some control in this matter can help something so overwhelming become a little more manageable.  

The influx of media and constant coverage of the virus can get overwhelming, and it is important to know that there is a difference between being informed, and being bombarded with unneeded, sensationalized stories. Take a break from social media and take care of yourself. Limit the amount of stories you click on, or just stop checking your news feed so often. A big reason for this constant coverage is because many people aren’t taking this as seriously as they should, it is more a reflection of the general population than a reflection on the situation at hand. While numbers are rising daily, as they inevitably would regardless, everyone needs to cooperate in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
On the other hand, there are a lot of positive movements going around social media to promote healthy COVID-19 outbreak practices, including the #gobigandstayhome trend on instagram. Many people are posting positive messages, sharing what they are doing in quarantine, and keeping connected. 

In the face of this tumultuous time in our world’s history, it is easy to get caught up in the  constant incantation of COVID-19 news and information. Now more than ever, it is important to create comforting environments at home, whether that means creating a space at home without news updates, setting a specific time each day to watch the news, or starting and continuing new hobbies or activities you can do from your home that can give you an outlet for the stress and anxiety of today’s world. If you want to start some healthy habits, maybe take up meditation, or yoga, start an exercise routine you can do from home. Practicing self care and working on mental health will look different for everyone! Don’t be afraid to try new things to find something that works for you!