Caring for your mental health during quarantine

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Tribune News Service

Social isolation creates added stress for many people, despite our ability to connect virtually.

Hailey Griffin, Opinions Editor

For some, quarantining prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for people to spend more time with their families at home.

For others, quarantining prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted their work life, their home life, their social life, and their school life. Those who live alone have been reduced to a constant state of loneliness, unable to visit others or go out anywhere. 

While it’s necessary to self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the toll that self-isolation is having on people’s mental health is very real. Human interaction is vital. If you go long enough without it, your chances of experiencing severe loneliness, depression, or lack of motivation could increase exponentially. For many of those who already struggle with their mental health, quarantine has been extremely difficult to cope with.

A student at MATC, Jimena Guimaraens, states “quarantine has had a negative effect on my mental health because I relied on the interaction of my friends, my busy routine at school, and work to distract me from my thoughts.”

I also talked with another student at MATC, Britni Petitt, who has been quarantining since spring break. Britni says, “quarantine has been a shitshow for me because I don’t have all the things that kept me motivated or kept me going throughout the day and got me out of the house.” Recently, Britni got tested for COVID-19; her results came back negative, but as an extra precaution, she’s adhered to stricter quarantine guidelines, such as restricting contact with her cats and her boyfriend.

Britni has been trying to keep busy by cleaning, sleeping, and catching up with homework assignments. Normally, she enjoys keeping up to date with current events by reading the news but now feels that she can’t do so for too long without feeling sad or withdrawn. She states, “Initially, when this started, I wasn’t super irritated, I was like ‘I can get by like this for a while.’ But the longer it goes, it’s a lot harder to stay hopeful about it.”

It’s difficult to stay hopeful and combat demotivation, loneliness, or depression, especially now, during a time when human interaction is scarce. But keeping busy, interacting with others (over the internet, for now), and practicing self-care are the best ways to distract yourself throughout all of this.

So, I urge you: practice self-care. Have a spa day. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure. Treat yourself to a face mask. Take a long, hot shower. Take a soothing bubble bath.

Stay busy. Paint or draw whatever comes to your mind. Cook your favorite meal. Bake your favorite dessert. Read to your heart’s content. Teach yourself how to play an instrument. Journal. Watch your favorite movies. Make a collage out of old magazines.

Call your friends on the phone or video chat with them. Have a one-on-one conversation with your loved ones. Exchange some memes with the homies. Online interaction isn’t, by any means, as comforting as face-to-face interaction. But it’s all we have right now.

Now, I realize that spewing a bunch of suggestions at you doesn’t guarantee that things will get better. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will suddenly gain motivation if you take these suggestions. But hey, it’s worth a shot.

It’s been difficult to adjust to all the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced upon us.  I can’t promise that this will be over any time soon, but I can promise that you’re not alone and that you WILL be able to return to your daily routine eventually.