Mental Health During COVID-19
By Leah Martinez '22
(Graphic: CARE Hospitals)
The past year has been… rough. We have all fought our own battles during the pandemic, and many of us have experienced loss, pain, fear, and isolation. These intense emotions and circumstances appeared out of nowhere, and it’s safe to say that none of us were prepared for the effects it would have on our lives and mental health. Focusing on responsibilities has been difficult while also feeling overwhelmed with the change of online learning, frightening news reports, and worrying about the safety of loved ones.
Life has been flipped upside down as the days and months blend, and remembering what we did last week is a complete blur. Not being able to do our normal activities like go to school, play sports, hang out with friends, or gather with family has left us with not too much to look forward to. It’s like we have been stuck in a long rut where oftentimes completing an assignment or going to sleep at a decent hour seems like an impossible task. At the beginning of quarantine, there was this pressure to take advantage of the extra time and be the most productive we had ever been, but in reality, it was hard to concentrate on work when everything was changing quickly and the world was falling apart before our eyes. Juggling all our responsibilities at home can be draining as more and more tasks are added to our to-do lists, and there isn’t room in our schedules to take time for ourselves. Being stuck inside and staring at a computer screen all day isn’t a very motivating process. I’ll be the first to admit that I have become unmotivated, and not being able to find the energy to do anything has led me to procrastinate a lot. This cycle continues week after week which only causes more frustration that nothing is getting done. If you have been feeling like this during the pandemic, I encourage you to set goals for the big and small tasks, use a planner, take up a new hobby, create a schedule or simply take time out of the day just for yourself. While it is important to handle our responsibilities it is equally as important to take care of ourselves, listen to our bodies, and take breaks so we don’t burn out.
Isolation has been a challenge to mental health as there is added loneliness and anxiety during quarantine. Not being able to have social interactions with others can make us feel that we are going through this alone. Social isolation can cause emotional exhaustion and affect our ability to properly function throughout the day. We are constantly missing out on things like events, experiences, and spending quality time with the people we care about which can make our days dismal and bring down our spirits. Being away from loved ones hasn't been easy and it can be daunting to think about how much time has passed since we have seen friends and family. But since we have been separated from each other for so long, hopefully when we reunite in-person our bonds will grow even stronger and we will have a newfound appreciation for one another. Though we have been in quarantine for quite some time now, viewing it with a new perspective may help us have a more positive mindset. Instead of seeing it as something negative, think of it as your contribution to stopping the spread of Covid-19 and protecting those around you from the virus. The faster we beat the virus the sooner we can reconnect with each other!
Pandemic fears have become a burden as safety and health are at the forefront of our minds on a daily basis. Grief and loss have significantly impacted mental health and these can be very overwhelming emotions to manage and work through. Worry and anxiety set in when people we know have been infected with the virus which can leave us with heavy feelings that take a toll on our mental health. Constantly checking the news to stay informed about cases, new research, and updates can be very alarming. Going out to the store or on a walk can be nerve-wracking, and at times I find myself being too nervous to leave the house or I panic when there are just a few too many people around me. Throughout the pandemic, it has been hard to handle these emotions alone, and you can’t help but wonder when things will start to get better for us. While this is all disheartening, there is light at the end of the tunnel, as more people get vaccinated hopefully this will bring some comfort and ease our anxiety. This also means we can get some normalcy back into our lives and see the people we love and do the things we enjoy. Although we still have a long road ahead of us, we should not lose hope.
The pandemic has impacted our lives in one way or another and it’s important to acknowledge how we feel so we don’t get caught up in anxiety. Every so often it can feel like you are battling this alone and it seems like things won’t ever get better, but I assure you that although we are apart, we are experiencing this together. Mental health shouldn’t be neglected and it is essential to take care of our minds and bodies so we are our very best selves.