The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine are already enough to bring anyone down, but for those struggling with mental health issues, this period of isolation is an even more challenging time. Across the world, thousands of people have been laid off and loved ones are dying. For students, the cancellation of graduation hits particularly hard. Many aspects of our lives have come to an abrupt halt as we are no longer able to see close friends or relatives. With many businesses closed and nowhere to go, loneliness is inevitable. As we spend an indefinite amount of time with no one other than ourselves and our thoughts, feelings or emotions that may have been suppressed with various distractions are rising to the surface.
While many may feel these emotions and turn to negative coping mechanisms, it is important to to take care of and be nice to ourselves. Negative coping mechanisms come in myriad forms, from doing nothing at all (never showering or never leaving your bed), to doing too much (overexercising and never allowing yourself to rest). It is up to you to decide what feels like positive self-care in your own personal experience. This could be taking a break and watching a few hours of Netflix while eating ice cream, or it could be taking a jog and listening to your favorite informational podcast. It is about making YOU feel good and taking care of your body and mind.
Another trap that is easy to fall into is getting caught up in social media and spending hours scrolling, looking at what others are doing or not doing and comparing our own realities to theirs. The simple truth is it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t being super productive with your newfound free time. Discovering a new hobby or getting in the best shape of your life are not requirements for quarantine. We are going through a pandemic, which is an inherently abnormal situation, so we cannot be expected to hold ourselves to normal standards.
I know that it’s easier said than done, but the more you challenge yourself to see the good in each day and try to make the most of what you have, the happier you will be. Inserting positivity into your life can be as simple as listing three things you’re grateful for when you wake up, taking a sensory walk (going through your five senses to experience and enjoy the world around you), journaling to sort out your thoughts or just taking time out of your day to do something that you enjoy. This is a difficult time for just about everybody, but know that near or far, there are many people in this world who love and care about you, and there are many resources at Colgate and beyond that will be there to help you if you are ever in need. In between starting a new blog, exercise routine or cooking career, remember to take moments to love and care for the person looking back at you in the mirror!