Mental Health in A World of Social Distance

I could have never predicted the term, “social distance,” to be in the title of one of my posts. In the last two months, the world as we know it has turned upside down due to the coronavirus. The changes started off small, with warnings to wash your hands and avoid large crowds. At this point, a good portion of the world felt it was “an overreaction of the media,” and a virus blown out of proportion. Then, the numbers slowly released and day by day, more colleges, large events, trips, study abroad programs and nonessential businesses began to shut down. And now, we are entering our fourth week of “social distance,” with the future very unclear. 

We are living in one of the most uncertain times we may ever face in our lifetime. In a world of fear and little answers, it is very easy for anxiousness and panic to arise. For many, just the thought of being stuck in a house for multiple weeks will induce anxiety. Others are worried over their jobs, some cannot attend therapy or to their normal routines to stabilize their mental health. While our priority is the physical health of others and ourselves, this doesn’t mean mental health falls any lower. After experiencing social distancing for almost a week, I’ve compiled some ways to stay calm in our world of panic.

  1. 1. Limit the amount of news you watch

    If your household is anything like mine, the news is constantly playing in our living room, especially at a time like this. Normally I can walk away from the living room to escape. But the news can be found on my social media timeline, email inbox, text messages and while I can walk away from that, it feels like the news of coronavirus is all over my social media timeline, email inbox, and text messages. After a while, this amount of news can feel suffocating and stressful. Try putting your phone away for certain periods of time to clear your head. During these times, I will write, take a walk or read to do something entirely unrelated to the current state of the world.

  2. 2. Discipline yourself to a routine

    One of the main struggles I’ve had with this time is the lack of organization I have in my everyday life. With no early morning classes to wake up to, many students lack a normal structure. Thus, I am making myself go to bed and wake up at a reasonable hour. This prevents me from staring at my phone for a long time before bed and procrastinating schoolwork in the morning. One of the best ways I get my day started is by making my bed (even if I will eventually lay on it to do work). Something about making your bed physiologically wakes you up and prepares you for the day. On days where I know I’m going to have a lot of school work, I am trying to dress in “real” clothes and put myself together as if I was actually going in public. My dad has also been dressing in a button-down shirt and ties to help himself feel more motivated. These little things can help you feel like life is a little more “normal,” which often eases my overwhelmed and anxious mind.

  3. 3. Have productivity goals every day

    Everyone is different, but for me, one of the main ways my mental health can suffer during a time like this is when I sit around and do nothing. I am the type that thrives off of being busy or having something or someone to attend to. While I have assessments to do, these do not fill up the entire day. I’ve decided to create little goals each day, which usually include something new. In the last few days, I’ve tried a new recipe every day. I am next going to try a calming craft such as making bracelets or the clean coat flowers and gold molds from TikTok (I apologize I have no idea what they are called). These types of activities make me feel busy with a purpose and take my mind off of the sadness and chaos around us.

  4. 4. Go outside

    There is nothing like fresh air to clear the head! Social distancing can still be practiced by taking a walk around your neighborhood. If you don’t feel like walking on a day, at least try to go outside for a bit. It is good for your body and gets us out of the trapped mindset these circumstances can cause.

  5. 5. Take a bath (but a shower works too)

    If you have a tub, take advantage of it. Baths have the ability to relax your bones and relieve the tension that you might not even realize has developed in your body. Some of my favorite bath products are the Lush bath bombs, particularly the Lavendar bomb because of its soothing smell. It also emits something that makes your skin feel smoother and moisturized. I also love Dr. Teal’s products, particularly their new sleep bubble bath, which actually has melatonin and essential oils in addition to the Epson salt found in most of their other products. It smells absolutely amazing and creates A LOT of bubbles with just a small amount of solution. They also have a lot of bath salts, including their Calm and Serenity product which has rose essential oil. Now those without a bath can still get relaxed too! Many bath salts can also be placed on your shower floor and will steam to create an aromatherapy experience; there are also shower salts (and bombs) that serve particularly for showers instead.

  6. 6. Catch up with friends or family virtually

    One of the most difficult parts of social distancing for most people is the thought of being alone for an extended period of time. While there isn’t a perfect solution, being able to facetime with your friends or family can make you feel a little less lonely, even if it is temporary. With this extra time, now is the perfect moment to reach out to those you might’ve lost touch with.

Lastly, just a word of encouragement: if you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. Secondly, you got this. This virus has affected every life of every person on this planet to some capacity, so no matter how alone you may feel, remember that we are all in this together (peep High School Musical) and we will get through this. As always, I am a resource for anyone who needs to talk or just want company. Feel free to reach out through IG or by email. Wishing everyone safety and good health ♡