Nebraska Methodist College's student ambassadors gave us great tips for beating quarantine fatigue. We asked them about keeping their mental health in check and practicing self-care during a time of uncertainty and stress.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out many strong emotions. Most of us feel uneasy, scared and uncertain about what lies ahead. While our physical health has been at the forefront of our minds for the last few months, worrying about coronavirus symptoms and physical distancing, what about our mental health?
Neglecting our mental health and failure to check in with ourselves can lead to some serious consequences. Mental illness such as anxiety and depression are on the rise, according to recent data from Healthline. Mental health professionals say those who are already susceptible to these mental health conditions might notice it is harder to cope lately. And it's not surprising why.
Social Isolation is Hard For Everyone
Between social distancing, physical distancing and stay-at-home orders, we may feel more isolated than ever and the very real quarantine fatigue has hit. Those who live alone or without pets might feel it even more so than those who have "quarantine buddies." And even if you have your family or friends to lean on, there is still the financial difficulties, job uncertainties and fear that this pandemic has brought on. How we deal with our stress, anxiety and mental healthcare is more important than ever.
"At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, I found myself having a very difficult time," said student ambassador Mariyah Griffin. "I'm a very outgoing, bubbly person, and I felt confined and locked in my home. It took a toll on my mental health.
Take Care of Yourself
Of course community outreach and checking in on loved ones during a pandemic is important, but putting yourself first and asking yourself what you need is crucial and not selfish at all. Stop and notice when you feel emotional distress, and think of what you can do, realistically, to make yourself feel better.
"Getting outside has made me feel better during quarantine," said student ambassador Jayde Carstens. "Sunshine and vitamin D have been wonderful for my mental health."
"Practicing self-care has been something I've been doing," explained student ambassador Ashley Boltin. "I've been eating healthy, drinking water, getting a walk in on the days I don't work, and having some 'me' time."
Consider Healthy Ways to Cope
You can't take care of yourself if you aren't managing stress or dealing with emotional distress. If loading up on too much news is adding to your stress and anxiety, detach yourself for a day or two. Take a break from TV and social media to unwind and clear your brain. Trying something new such as regular exercise, meditation, yoga, practicing mindfulness and reading a new book (or revisiting an old favorite) can really help with managing stress. While it's tempting to want to cope with junk food and comfort food right now, remember to eat healthy and drink plenty of water too. Even something as simple as sleep will improve your health considerably.
"I've been taking the time to sleep in when I can," said student ambassador Courtney Leydig. "It sounds weird when we have class, but most of the time we're out and about really early during the week. Getting enough sleep is essential for having a good day or week."
"Every day, I walk three to five miles around trails, Downtown Omaha and parks to get exercise, fresh air and human interaction," explained Griffin. "I make sure to practice good hygiene and do as many things outdoors while making sure I stay healthy within my mind."
None of us saw the pandemic coming, so we're all taking it day by day and learning what we can along the way. It's so important to understand that your feelings are valid in a stressful situation, whether they're positive or negative some days. Knowing when to ask for help or consult a doctor or mental health services is crucial.
If needed, please consider taking advantage of mental health services such as:
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746. Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico can text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
If you want to make a difference in the lives of others like our student ambassadors, check out Nebraska Methodist College to further your education and start a life-changing career.