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How To Remain Mentally Healthy During COVID-19



Since the pandemic, our lives have changed. We tend not to realize how much of an impact COVID-19 has on our daily lives. Anxiety and fear have a tendency to withdraw many people's happiness. Taking care of mental health looks different for everyone, whether that's going for a bike ride, reading a book, watching a movie, or doing nothing; it all has an impact on the way we feel. Learning ways to cope with situations that bring anxiety and fear can overall help shape your mental well-being, and can also have a positive impact on your social interactions with others.


What is Mental Health?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental health is “an important part of overall health and well-being. Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”

Mental health checks in with the general condition of your intellectual and emotional state. As humans we have the tendency to become unaware about our feelings and allow our emotions to build up inside. Many factors contribute to our stages on mental health, including, but not limited to:


  • Past experiences

  • Biological factors

  • Peer pressure/influences

  • religion/culture

  • Family or community lifestyle


What can you do to help your community stay safe and healthy?


When discussing mental health, we notice it doesn't only affect one group of people. Everyone has their own emotions, and for various age groups it can be different. For example, a lot of elderly individuals were not allowed to be accompanied by their friends and family. Teens were not able to socialize with their friends or participate in sports and activities, and children were prohibited from playing at parks and recreation centers. It has taken a toll on society's way of life, and changed the way we as humans usually interact.

During this pandemic, we tend to notice that people around us all have been quarantining differently. Whether that has been staying in the house, or not obeying proper coronavirus precautions, we are all being affected. As we look around, many businesses in local towns are being shut down, people are losing their jobs, and many of us are trying to find ways that we can help our communities by getting involved safely. Here are some ideas on ways to give back during this pandemic:


  • Wear a mask

  • Volunteer at a local food bank or homeless shelter

  • Support local schools, day cares, and business fundraisers and events

  • Prepare, and help your neighbors prepare, for the unexpected

  • Donate food, clothes, money, ect. to nearby shelters (or even just a person on the street)

  • Practice safe social engagement

  • Create inspirational cards, letters, and other gifts

  • Call your loved ones

  • Make a pen pal


How were students' mental health affected during the pandemic?


As we know, some young people have experienced some unpredictable challenges during this time. Schools play an epic role in many students' lives, and, without that outlet, some may be put into danger. Teachers were more aware of students when they were in the classroom, but now without being able to see students physically it may be harder to connect and encourage them. A main part of our struggle at this time is the encounter with emotional problems. Anxiety and depression have drastically spread throughout our world at this time, and not knowing how to deal with these isolated emotions has a tendency to cause extra stress for many students.


How can students de-stress?


We hear about how adults are being affected by COVID-19 due to loss of jobs, slower incomes, ect. But, many students have been influenced the same. During the summer a lot of students take part in internships, babysitting jobs, and other interactive activities. Many have lost daily in-person contact with friends and family members. As governor Kate Brown has issued more mandates to keep us safe, we are now having to find ways to keep ourselves entertained! Many students have joined clubs, connected with friends and family over facetime or Zoom, exercised, caught up on television shows or movies, crafted, or even joined organizations like Oregon Student Voice! As social beings, it's out of the ordinary to not connect with others physically, but with our new normal we need to always have a backup plan! Here are some ideas:


  • Social distanced movie night

  • Start a book or art club

  • Share and display positive photos

  • Play a virtual board game


Ways to alleviate stress


Lastly, as connecting with others plays a huge role in one's life, being at peace with oneself does as well. We tend to not take time to alleviate personal stressors because of the awareness it may draw to personal problems. Focusing on yourself plays a huge part when talking about mental health. Many don't realize, or know how to alleviate their stressors, so here are some ideas:


  • Exercise (jogging, walking, yoga, ect.)

  • Sleep (8-10 hours)

  • Find balance

  • Take mental deep breaths (4-5 times per day)

  • Go outside

  • Journal

  • Read

Resources:


The Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (NCEED)

TeenMentalHealth


Akylah McNack is a freshman at Central Catholic High School and serves as the Thrive Director for Oregon Student Voice, a student-led organization that empowers all students to be authentic partners in making decisions that affect their K-12 education.

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Oregon Student Voice is a nonprofit organization incorporated in 2018.