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  • Khushbu Dulani

Mental Health and COVID

Covid-19, Coronavirus, Covid, the pandemic, no matter what you call it, it's been an incredible stressful experience. Of course there are people who have it way worse than others, but these were not easy times.

With students now completing a full year of non traditional learning, we've had to adapt and take responsibility. Online and hybrid learning threw a wrench into our otherwise ambition, or just normal plans. Personally, online school went from an optional paradise with no effort A's to complete chaos, and only now, nearing the end of my junior year, have I found a good balance and routine that works for me. School during the pandemic may have felt pointless, unrewarding, dull, isolated, and oftentimes, overwhelming. Having to stay home from March to August 2020 made it extremely difficult to transition into the school year- we were unmotivated, hopeless, worn down, and unprepared. The constant monotony of repetitive and overwhelming days is draining for students. In moments like these, it is vital to find time for yourself. While looking down to your phone may be an easy distraction or break from the chaos around us, having nothing fulfilling to spend personal time on can be damaging to your mental health. You may find yourself staying up at night, mindlessly scrolling, because it's the only time you've gotten to yourself that you can control. While I can't help you with your deadlines, I can suggest some alternatives to TikTok and mindless scrolling:

  • If you're looking for something to do with your hands so that paying attention through your screen is more doable, try knitting or crocheting! This can also become a hobby that you work on during breaks and free time

  • As the weather starts to get better, spend some time outside on your breaks. If going on a walk or meeting up with friends is not an option, you can also just take a book or sketchbook outside in your own local or personal park.

  • Watching video essays, informational docuseries, or enriching youtube videos or Netflix series has personally been one of my favorite methods of getting genuinely excited about something (especially learning).

Whether or not you do something on your screens, remember to actually take a minute to get up, stretch your legs, and reset. Once your meetings of the day are over, or any time you have < 5 minutes on hand, get up, take a lap around your room, use the bathroom if you need to, roll out your neck, crack your back, unclench your jaw, and hydrate before you get back to work.

Lockdown and social distancing undoubtedly put a strain on relationships and families. It is not easy to spend so much time isolated, and regardless of your specific circumstances, the past year has definitely changed our dynamics with the people around us.

If you have family that you've been unable to meet due to the pandemic, who are unfortunately all alone, you may consider setting up weekly FaceTime (or any video calling service) calls! If they are local, send a care package or basket to show your love. Personally, I've seen how lockdown has made my grandparents across the world extremely lonely and down. If this is the case, don't hesitate to call and hang out with them through the phone!

With friendships that seem to be going cold due to these circumstances, propose in person or virtual friend dates, study sessions, or even virtual podcasts. The app Cappuccino is a wonderful option for this.

Covid has brought pain like no other to the world, and as Americans, we have faced not only the fear of the virus but the anxiety behind what's being done to manage it. When this all seems to build up, it's important to collect yourself and remember that taking responsibility to keep yourself and others safe is making more good than you think.

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