The way our lives have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has had an incredible impact on mental health. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, coupled with the fear of the virus, brought forth a wave of depression and anxiety that adults and students alike are trying to find ways to deal with.
As Ali Gold, a recent Boston University graduate, stated in an interview with WGBH News:
The lack of social connection has influenced my anxiety. I just think, day to day, it’s a bit higher.
And she’s not alone—a national survey of 2,000 college students has reported that 80% feel that the pandemic has harmed their mental health. If you are suffering the same effects, consider these methods of coping with the COVID blues while social distancing.
Best Practices for Every Day
There are many things students can do in their daily routines to maintain better mental health and keep anxiety at bay. It is a good idea for most adults to try to work these five tips into their lives, both during the pandemic and after.
- Take a timeout. Everyone needs a little break to unwind throughout the day. Take time away from studies, homework, social media, and the news to do something you enjoy. Getting out of the house is a great benefit to mental health, so walks and nature hikes are a great way to relax while keeping your distance from others.
- Connect with loved ones. Even though spending time with groups of people outside your household is not recommended at this time, you can still interact with friends and family. Zoom, Facetime, and Skype are excellent methods of interacting face-to-face while you can’t be together.
- Get a good night’s rest. Good sleep habits are a benefit for anyone at any time. Try to get a solid eight hours of sleep every night on a regular schedule. If you have trouble getting to sleep, try to avoid caffeine and excessive screen time in the evening. Turning off the TV at bedtime helps, and many people find relaxing sound machines and apps to be beneficial.
- Structure your day. Having structure creates a sense of stability and comfort that can help you through uncertain times. In addition to a regular sleep schedule, try to adhere to a daily routine, doing online classes and studies during a regular time frame, allowing a time for entertainment activities, and including some physical activity for at least 30 to 60 minutes per day.
- Eat well. Taking care of your physical health is always important, and it aids in mental health. Be sure to eat three meals a day and include proper portions from each food group. Aim to consume healthy snacks between meals and avoid soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Be sure to have a cheat day, as well, though, so you can enjoy those favorites like pizza and burgers!
- Understand that your feelings are acceptable. When you experience feelings of frustration, anger, or sadness during these difficult times, it is essential to know that you are entitled to your feelings, and you are not alone. Try to discuss your feelings with a close friend or family member, but don’t feel bad if you prefer to keep your emotions to yourself. Just be sure to reach out for help if these anxious feelings become overwhelming at any time.
When students feel anxious or depressed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health resources must be available to them if needed. Still, following these tips to maintain personal mental health is a great way to start dealing with the stress of the situation.