By Lilly Nuck
While Covid-19 has brought an immense amount of physical sickness to people all around the world, it has also brought an array of newly and increased preexisting mental illness. The struggle of being isolated in your home and having normality taken away from you abruptly can have a large effect on the mind. Getting stripped of seeing friends and relatives for months on end can truly make you feel like you are losing part of your identity.
People need people to survive. Humans thrive on social interaction. While everyone needs their own personal time to self reflect, too much time away from others does leave a sort of emptiness within you. As a result, self care is very important during these uncertain times. While we cannot change our current reality, we can do a variety of things to make sure we are taking care of ourselves and possessing the best mindset we are able to.
Mrs. Jennifer Farnsworth, a guidance counselor at OCHS, had some very thoughtful insights on how difficult this new normal has been and ways students can keep a healthy mindset. She stated, “It is not unusual during current times to have feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. Students are facing family income losses, caring for younger siblings, and managing self-care while trying to learn new platforms for academics.” Even though students and adults have different stressors in life, everyone right now is experiencing a new normal. So while students are adjusting to both virtual/hybrid learning environments, adults who work a typical nine-to-five job are adjusting to working from home or even getting placed on unemployment.
Although it can be hard to reach out for help when you are not feeling your best, you must understand that you are not alone in feeling this way and that there are a variety of resources that can help you. The OCFSD district offers onsite counseling through Clinical Psychology Associates and six free counseling sessions through the provided Student and Family Assistance Programs. Students and their families can find all of these resources and more on the school counseling Web page. Due to all of these accessible resources, both students and their family members can feel more at ease and comfortable learning to adjust to this stressful reality.
Now while some may believe that their mental hardships do not need counseling, there are some tips and tricks that you can include in your daily life to help you stay sane during these difficult times. Seize the Awkward is a very knowledgeable resource that offers helpful tips on how to maintain mental health during the pandemic caused by COVID-19. One important tip offered is to not forget your basic needs in the midst of the pandemic. The little things that we forget to do on a day-to-day basis can truly improve your mood and overall wellbeing. For instance, make sure you are getting enough sleep, creating healthy food habits, drinking water, spending time outside in a safe manner, and trying different calming techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or journaling. While some may think that these are common sense things that they continuously do, it can be very easy to forget to do them. Also, many may not enjoy the idea of writing your feelings down, but sometimes that can be the perfect way to express everything you are thinking and get the negative thoughts out of your head.
Another major tip Seize the Awkward offers is to set aside dedicated time to do things that you personally enjoy and that relieve stress. Whether that be painting, drawing, cooking, implementing skin care, exercising, watching a feel good movie, or even something as simple as listening to music, prioritize these things and don’t allow yourself to forget them. Even if you have a ton of homework, setting aside 5 to 30 minutes a day just for you is key.
In relation to doing things for yourself, a fellow student at OCHS, Mikaelynn Turner, offered insights about what she does to stay mentally stable during the pandemic. “I personally think it is important to treat yourself. Whether it be buying yourself lunch or buying a sweatshirt, the little things like that can really boost your mood especially if you are having an off day,” says Turner. “Also, if you are able to balance a job, I believe that it is a very good distraction. Benefits from having a job include making money, getting work experience, and getting to interact with people in a safe manner.”
All in all, COVID-19 has brought an array of problems into our world. It has brought tragedy and heartbreak. But we will get through this. Taking time to make sure that you yourself are okay, are the first steps to take to gain normalcy.
Click here to access the OCHS Guidance offices.