Illustration by Alyssa Maziarz
Now more than ever, the notion of maintaining strong physical health is heavily emphasized. Proper handwashing techniques. Hand sanitizer. Wiping down surfaces. Monitoring health.
There’s no doubt physical health ought to be looked after in a time such as this. But at the same time, are we placing much of an emphasis on mental health?
With universities closed across the country and students being encouraged to flock to wherever home may be, students risk losing important mental health resources that they may have relied on during the greater part of the academic year.
Periods of sudden and rapid change are certain to induce anxiety and stress in just about everyone, including those already experiencing struggles with mental health. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when routine and daily practices are interrupted and thrown for a loop.
Because of this, it can be difficult to find ways to cope with these changes. We are all grieving something during this time, and no matter the scale or magnitude, all grief is valid. Grief for normalcy, grief for cancelled events and things we were looking forward to and more.
Here are some ways to help ensure you are taking good care of your mental health during this ever-changing time:
Engage in practices of filling your heart.
The way I’ve been filling my heart changes by the day, and this definition can change from person to person. For me, I fill my heart by engaging in what I love.
I listen to music and find joy in making playlists for all the moods I may be feeling during this time. I doodle from time to time. I write a lot. I write blogs, of course, but I also journal regularly (a continued practice that has proven quite helpful during this time).
Filling your heart is all about taking what you already love and doing more of it, and taking the chance to take what you love and mix it up from time to time.
Make a “future list.”
A lot of people are making lists of things to do while they’re in “quarantine,” but I’ve been keeping a list of goals and fun things I’d like to do for when everything reaches a state of normalcy again. It allows me hope for what is to come, patience for what is already here, and flexibility to take on these present days without feeling underaccomplished.
A future list will look different for everyone, but mine is full of places to go, things to do, self-care ideas and date plans.
While we’re practicing conscious social distancing, being together with friends is something a lot of people are missing right about now. Luckily, there are so many safe ways to stay connected with friends near and far.
If you don’t already have a group chat, make one. If your friends make a Minecraft server to share with you, join in together. If you want to take advantage of platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and more, do it. Send memes, lots of them, and keep each other company while your primary company is yourself. Humor is healing (especially when your friends are some of the most humorous people you know).
Filter for the good.
This one’s been hard for me. I found I can no longer scroll through my Twitter feed without seeing news about the virus almost constantly. And while it’s important to stay informed and aware, I’ve found overwhelming amounts of negativity in the news to be contributing to my overall mood, and I know a lot of people are feeling this, too.
Social media gives us the power to choose what we see. I’ve decided to filter for the good: mute some accounts, follow tons more and spend more time on platforms that harbor humor instead of fear or anxiety. There are also plenty of “good news only” apps available to keep some light on in what can feel dark.
Emma Andrus is a sophomore journalism student from Olmsted Falls, Ohio, pursuing a minor in public relations. This is her second semester with The Burr. Emma is also a copy editor for The Kent Stater/KentWired. She has been passionate about storytelling and the power of the written word ever since she could read and write, and she is looking forward to having a hand in telling stories with The Burr this fall. When she is not exploring her passion for words, Emma enjoys good pasta, crossing off to-do lists and making and listening to music. You can follow her @EmmaBAndrus on Twitter to keep up with her journalism adventures.