June 6, 2020

Mental health in a pandemic: How not to let COVID-19 ruin your life completely

Your feelings are valid. 

Just because you’re young and unlikely to die from the virus doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to be stressed out and upset about it.

Just because you can still go out into the world and be healthy doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to be scared. 

I’m not a health professional; I’m a 21-year-old English major who isn’t sure how the rest of her final semester of college is going to play out.

That being said, I think it’s incredibly important that we, as students, don’t let this situation ruin our lives.  

I’m healthy and precautious, so the chances are incredibly low that anything will happen to me regarding the coronavirus.

Still, I’m heartbroken. 

I’m heartbroken because I’ve worked my ass for for the last few years and may not even be able to walk at commencement, that my stressful yet enjoyable late nights working on layout with the Chimes are likely coming to a sudden end, that I can’t make money I need to pay my bills waiting tables until further notice, that I won’t be able to see my friends regularly, and that I’m paying a lot of money to go to a school I won’t even be physically going to classes at. 

I’m sad that my friends are now behind academically due to being unable to student teach or study abroad. I’m sad that soon, my friends might have to pack up and leave campus even if they have nowhere to go right now. 

And I know I’m not alone in all of this frustration of our lives and our plans being thrown upside down, and I could have it a lot worse than I do.

But I think it’s so important that we don’t let this ruin everything. 

Social isolation is something that’s important in times like this—even though you may not be showing any symptoms, you may still be a carrier, or you still might show them later. 

For a lot of people, this can be troubling mentally: being alone, feeling paranoid, or even just feeling stressed in times like these can be overwhelming. 

But I think what’s important is not completely losing it in the midst of a confined space and schoolwork.  

For me, the biggest hurdle will be staying busy. As someone who struggles with depression, not having something to do all the time isn’t great for me mentally, so below are some time-consuming distractions: 

Television & Movies

Streaming services will be my (and maybe your) best friends for the next few weeks. Netflix and Hulu are the big ones, but there are other free resources available such as Crunchyroll for those who enjoy anime, YouTube for more casual viewing, and Crackle

Literature

Reading is one of the obvious choices for these kinds of articles, but immersing yourself in a story and being free of all internet-related distractions is important at a time like this. If you don’t already have books you want to read, consider ordering one to be delivered from an indie bookstore, like Columbus’ own The Book Loft

For those of you who prefer audiobooks, LibriVox is a free resource with a large selection of literature. I’ve also found that there are plenty of readings of short stories or poems on Spotify, like this reading of “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe and the NoSleep Podcast featuring a wide array of original short horror stories.

Podcasts

Podcasts sometimes get a weird reputation, which is understandable, but there’s an incredible variety when it comes to them that can help spice up your self-quarantine. 

There are podcasts about aliens and conspiracy theories, true crime, comedy, gaming and literature, politics, riddles, talk shows, and anything in between

Video Games

Let’s be real here: everyone knew this was coming. 

I’m not a PC gamer, but realistically, that’s what those of you who don’t frequently play video games will be most likely to access. 

This article from TechRadar lists some free options, and Steam often has discounted or even free games available. 

There are also some fun free or affordable games available on the App Store, like Cooking Mama and Plants vs. Zombies. 

Cleaning 

Clean out your closet. Scrub your bathtub. Organize your sock drawer. 

If you’re stuck in a confined space for a few weeks, you owe it to yourself to at least keep it clean, and you’ll feel so much better afterwards. Put on some music and start cleaning.

Create

This is what’s probably the most important thing on the list: Don’t let your creative juices go dry.

Whether you’re cooking, painting, writing, making music, putting together a puzzle, or building with LEGOs, falling victim to a lack of creative stimulation is not a good move and will likely put you in a rut that will be hard to get out of.

Being holed up at home is something that’s going to be difficult for a lot of people, but it’s not a reason to stop living your life. Open a window, get some fresh air, and take a deep breath.

Keep yourself busy in any way that you can and please check on your friends. This is hitting some harder than others, and even just a quick text, phone call, or FaceTime can help someone immensely during this pandemic. 

  • Sydney is the managing editor at the Chimes and a senior professional writing and journalism major at Capital University pursuing a career arts and entertainment writing. Some of her favorite things are cold brew, books about dragons, horror films, and her cat, Sterling.

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