Mental health is and always will be a struggle. Covid has impacted normal routines like hanging out with friends, playing sports, and going to school which in turn impacts our mental health. Being in isolation and not having the same type of peer support as we used to has become detrimental to everyone in a variety of ways. The feeling of helplessness, loneliness and lack of motivation are extremely common. Newer, more unheard of, mental health concerns have also arisen during isolation such as zoom fatigue and using social media as a coping mechanism.
Make Time for YOU
According to the American Psychological Association, “The average reported stress level for U.S. adults related to the coronavirus pandemic is 5.9.” This is significantly higher than their 2019 Annual Stress in America survey that reported an average of 4.9. Everyone is unique and has different stressors and different ways stress affects them as shown below.
Responsibilities while living in the midst of a pandemic have certainly changed and are different than those in “normal” circumstances. You may be tempted to get groceries every other day, like usual, but then you remember covid and realize maybe going to the store can wait one or two more days until it’s necessary. Now there’s nothing to do and you’re astounded at the free time you have. You go on your phone and try not to get lost in a social media loop. Or it may be the opposite, the schedule is full with zoom meetings, homework, replying to emails, the list goes on. Your responsibilities are overwhelming, or underwhelming, depending on the situation. Either way, it’s important to find time for YOU. Focusing on yourself will help reduce stress, anxiety, eating and sleeping habits, and many other things. According to the CDC helpful ways to take care of yourself are making time to unwind, meditation, and exercising. Apps such as Headspace and Breathe also make it easy to find peace.
Be Sure to Unplug
In the midst of this pandemic we are absorbing political information like sponges. News sites are putting out headlines at breakneck speed and we feel caught in a crossfire of current events. It’s important for our anxiety, stress, anger level and mental health to set our devices down and take a breath. Heated online debates can add stress and anger to our daily emotions which can be prevented by taking frequent breaks. Influencers on social media also play a role in self confidence and mental health. It is essential when checking socials to remember not everything on social media is real. What seems like a happy selfie might mask someone who is struggling. Taking a walk, making some tea, or even taking a nap helps distract you from social media. It is all right if you are not 100% up to date on current events and social media. Putting your phone down or computer away for a few hours at a time won’t hurt.
Speak with Someone
Sometimes stress, anxiety, and other mental challenges turn into more serious problems that affect the way you function in your daily life. Mental illnesses should never be taken lightly and are more common than you may think. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness.” During the pandemic the amount of people suffering from mental illness has increased and symptoms have worsened. It’s important to remember that even in these trying times you are not alone and there is help available. Taking time for your mental health, even when you have other things to do, is more important than getting homework or other priorities done.
It’s important to remember that even when we have to be physically distant from our peers, we don’t have to be emotionally distant. Reaching out to your friends, even when they seem like they are doing ok, will help your wellbeing as well as theirs. At Souhegan we have a willing student services team that are happy to help with whatever needs, emotional or not, you are struggling with. If you don’t feel comfortable with making the commitment to talk to someone on the student services team, feel free to reach out to any trusted adult including your advisor, or any teacher. Other resources outside of the Souhegan community include NAMI, Bridges, which has a 24 hour support line, and Mental Health Resources. Some important numbers are listed below…
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673
National Domestic Violence: 800-799-7233
Crisis: text NAMI to 741741