Your mental health might suffer during social distancing

Not to add on to the coronavirus-is-taking-away-everything-I’ve-ever-loved attitude, but I think that it’s worth noting that it is okay to accept that your situation is probably less than ideal right now. In fact, I know it is, but I also know that literally everyone else around you is feeling the same way. Other students are trying to adjust to this just as much as you are. 

Being home for an extended period of time for the first time since high school is a very weird feeling. It’s unusual to think that once upon a time you were living your best life, going to class, hanging out with friends, participating in social events and living the literal college dream to being back in your childhood bedroom and living out of suitcases. If you’re like me, you might feel a little out of place. This is not a fun vacation and it is not a much needed break after a draining week of final exams. Having to adjust is not fun and change is not fun, but it is important for us to try to be adaptable. 

In the Stanford prison experiment and prisoner experiences with solitary confinement prove that social isolation can literally make you lose touch with your sanity. When I first heard everyone spewing the term “social-distancing,” the extrovert in me began to panic. I remember wanting to cry thinking about how everything was going to close and how I would be essentially stuck in my childhood bedroom like Rapunzel for an indefinite period of time. 

Hopefully, if you also had this thought, you have calmed down by now too. We are not prisoners, we are not going to lose our minds being stuck inside of our rooms all day because just because we are supposed to socially distance ourselves doesn’t mean we can’t go outside. While I stand by my thought that if you are intentionally going to clubs non-stop during a pandemic, that you’re an idiot, you can still have community with people. 

If you're religious, it probably means that you get to go to church with your whole community online instead of in person. If you like to spend time shopping, it probably means you have to do a lot of it online. If you have a wedding or a big event planned, it might even mean rescheduling. This does not mean your life is over. You are not going to die from spending less time in public. While things have changed, you can still keep in touch with your friends. You can still FaceTime your best pals. You can even hang out with them for small increments of time. 

While many places have closed doors, and restaurants are now only offering pick-up and drive through, there is still time to be okay with this. Many of us are fortunate enough to not be quarantined right now. We still have some freedom to go where we want and do the things we want to do, and for your own mental health, I encourage you to do so — unless it endangers the people around you. 

Social isolation is the worst thing for people who already struggle with their mental health. For many people, it is an awful thing to be alone with an abundance of time. I really believe during these times, it is very important for people to actively fight their depression and their anxiety. I’ve been an online-only student for a couple of days now and what I have noticed is that after a day of moping around wondering how to spend my time, I have already set myself up on a schedule. Luckily for me, my classes are resuming via Zoom and Google Hangout, so I’m still attending lectures. I designated time for myself to do things I love like read and paint, but also keep up with my school work and continue my life. 

This won’t ever really be an ideal situation and as someone who both struggles from mental health and advocates for mental health, surviving this situation seems like a daunting task. However, I really do believe that the more you try to live, even with the world seeming to shut down, that you can still fight to stay mentally healthy.


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