Social Distancing to a Student: How to Maintain Mental Health

Social distancing and quarantining is the number one recommended way to stay safe from Covid 19. This article is not meant to contradict that statement or to urge you not to socially distance yourself from those who do not live with you. It will, however, be asking you to consider the toll it can take on your mental health, and ways to stay happy and healthy during this uncertain time. 

Wikimedia Creative Commons: Syced

Throughout the course of social distancing, most of us are unable to engage in important and stimulating activities, such as work, physical activity, and human interaction, causing a lack of motivation. While in quarantine, with almost no access to social and engaging healthy coping mechanisms, many are unable to maintain their ideal mental health and find themselves suffering from new or worsened mental health issues such as fear, anxiety, trouble sleeping or focusing, depression, boredom, anger, frustration, and irritability. With no places to go or people to interact with, mental health slips away easily, and it is our job as a community to allow space for those who are suffering to come and find new, and more creative ways to stay healthy and safe.

The CDC has voiced their concern and shares many opinions with The American Psychological Association Excessive and has asked parents to monitor their children’s behavior and watch for excessive crying or irritation in younger children, excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, poor school performance or avoiding school, difficulty with attention and concentration, avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past, unexplained headaches or body pain, and sudden or increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

During a pandemic, those who already suffer from mental health issues or disorders may find it far more difficult to stay in a healthy headspace. Because of this, The American Psychological Association (or APA), is recommending new ways to cope healthily. Their first recommendation is to ignore unreliable sources and only follow sources such as the CDC, WHO, SAMHSA for information about Covid 19. Next, the APA recommends creating a routine, to allow for order and increased motivation. A routine can help create a rhythm and allow for a purpose to be found. Along with creating a routine, it is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with a healthy diet and normal or increased exercise. Though people cannot physically be in the same place, in this day and age, we are lucky to live with an abundance of technology, and many organizations recommend people utilize this and stay virtually connected. 

Lastly, living in a time with so many unknowns, it is important to focus on what you can improve, rather than what is out of your control, and even use this time to improve yourself, or those around you.

If you, or someone you know, needs extra support during this time, confidential 24-hour helplines are available:

  •         Crisis Textline:  Text HOME to 741-741
  •         NH Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255
  •         Trevor Lifeline: Call 1-866-488-7386.
  •         NH Addiction Crisis Line: Call 1-844-711-4357
  •         Domestic and Sexual Assault Crisis Line: 1-866-644-3574