Mental Health in a Quarantine

When this pandemic hit, it caught everyone completely by surprise. Two weeks ago, we were living our lives and suddenly everything shut down. “Social distancing” wasn’t even a part of people’s vocabulary and suddenly we’re saying it multiple times a day. It has affected everybody in one way or another, but for people like me who struggle with their mental health, this is especially difficult. My anxiety is definitely worse since all of this started to go down. I know I’ve been feeling pretty down and limited social contact doesn’t make it better. Texting and Facetime are just not the same as chilling on the couch with my roommates talking about random life stuff. But I think its important to remember that we’re all in this together even if we are separated at the moment. This won’t last forever, even if it feels endless in the moment.

Something that I am struggling with a lot is my college closing for the rest of the semester. We are going fully online, like a lot of college campuses in the country. While this is the safest and most responsible decision, it is incredibly difficult as a graduating senior. I walked out of my last class without even knowing. I saw some of my classmates for the last time without saying a real goodbye. I left my dorm room like I was coming back. I walked across campus for the last time without taking it all in. I’m going to miss out on those last moments with my friends. Graduation is being rescheduled for August for whoever can make it, but I know not everyone will come back. It won’t be the same. We’ve worked our whole lives to get to graduation and that feeling of walking out of our last class ever won’t come. The same is true for all college seniors whose school has closed in this crazy time. It’s also true for high school seniors who don’t get to go their proms or on their senior trips. I know emotionally and mentally that its a tough thing to process. Not having closure is something that we have all struggled with in our life. The positive to this is that there is a huge community of people having these same feelings right now. I encourage you to reach out to your friends and classmates and just vent. I know my college has a student Facebook page where people are doing things to connect. Stay as connected as you can be to your peers in this very disconnected time.

Something that everyone is struggling with right now is the fear of the unknown. The word “unprecedented” is constantly in the news and it’s true. We don’t fully understand what this virus is or how long all of this will last. With each passing day inside, we are getting more restless. Some people are feeling incredibly lonely if they live by themselves. Others are struggling with the stress of constantly being around other people. It’s important to take care of yourself in the midst of the craziness. Call your loved ones if you are alone. Take some time to yourself if you are living with people. I just drove around for a while yesterday listening to music and it was just what I needed. Schedule a video call with your therapist if you had to leave the city you were in because of a school or job shutting down. I know it can be really hard working from home as well and finding the motivation to get work done, but it is important to set time aside each day to get things done. Dedicate a certain time to doing work. Try to keep up with routine as much as possible. Do some meditation if that works for you. Get out and go for a walk to get some fresh air. Do what you need to do to calm your fears. Feel free to comment or message me what you are going through, because chances are others or myself are feeling those things to. Social distancing is really hard on our mental health and its important to let other people know that so that they can try and help alleviate some of the loneliness, depression, or anxiety we feel.

I have no idea what lies in the future. I think it is important to take it all day by day. I also think it is important that we let ourselves feel what we are feeling. If you are grieving the loss of the end of a senior year or time at a job like I am, then grieve. If you are feeling sad, cry on someone’s shoulder or by yourself. If you are feeling angry at the situation or even angry with God for letting this all happen, then get mad. That one is one that I struggle with, but my therapist and I have been talking about how it is okay to feel angry with God sometimes. People in the Bible shared their frustration with Him all the time. I think in the end, it will create a deeper bond. No one has gone through this, so no one knows how to feel. It is important to remember that all feelings are valid.

Some of these extra anxieties or depressing thoughts come out of having a ton of time on our hands to do nothing. With that time, we are able to just live in our thoughts, which can be detrimental to those who struggle daily with their mental health. Because of this, it is important to fill our time with other things. You can click HERE to see a list I found of things to do while stuck inside. It has some pretty good ideas. I personally am reading, watching some light-hearted TV shows, watching more movies, and trying to write more.

Let me know what is getting you through this quarantine. Also, let me know if you are struggling. We can get through this uncertain time together. Thanks for reading! This blog is really helpful for me to write, so I appreciate that others seem to find it helpful too. Have a great week and stay safe!

Also here are some resources if you are feeling overwhelmed:

If all the talk about COVID-19 is making you feel overwhelmed or frightened, contact the SAMHSA Disaster Helpline: Call DistressLine at 1-800-985-5990 or Text TalkWithUs to 66746

The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7 365 day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human caused-disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents of the United States and its territories.

Rachel (:

Random Things That Help With My Anxiety

Everyone has different ways of coping with their anxiety. There is no right way to cope. The things in this list are random things that specifically help me to calm down or distract me from all of my stressors. Maybe some things on this list will help you too or maybe you have other random things that help you. I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

This list of things is in no particular order, but they all help me in some way:

Driving and Listening to Music

I love to drive. Since the moment I got behind the wheel, I have been hooked. I was nervous at first because I had car anxiety after the accident in seventh grade, but when I’m in the driver’s seat I don’t feel anxious. It probably has to do with the fact that I am in control of the car and not just a passenger. The main point is that I feel calm in the drivers seat. When life starts to feel particularly overwhelming, I get in my car, hit shuffle on the songs on my phone, and drive aimlessly. I never have a destination in mind. I never know how long I’ll drive for. Could be ten minutes. Could be over an hour. I drive until I feel some of the stress start to melt away. Sometimes I do this alone and sometimes friends join me, but it always makes me feel better.

Shuffling Cards

I feel like this might seem strange to most people, but it truly is something I do when I start to feel my anxiety increasing. When my headaches were super bad during my junior year of high school and I was put on homebound status, I couldn’t do a lot. I couldn’t focus on anything for very long without my headache pain increasing. During that time, I had a deck of cards that I put by my chair and I got really good at shuffling cards. I tried to teach myself magic tricks and played card games, but shuffling is something that became soothing. The sound of the cards and the motion itself were calming to me. I still keep cards with me in my room and sometimes when I’m at work for those times that I start to feel increased anxiety. It’s a weird habit, but it is something that works for me.

Slime and Stress Balls

I was given a stress ball by my therapist when I was telling her about feeling fidgety when my anxiety worsened, and after I started using it, it really helped. My roommates and I also have a weird fascination with slime and putty and that does the same thing for me. It gives me something to do with my hands. My favorite thing like this that I have was part of a Secret Santa gift from my roommate. It’s called a Sqwooz. It’s basically a really squishy stress ball that kind of feels like there is foam inside. It’s hard to describe, but it has come in handy many times when I started to feel overwhelmed.

Mario Kart

We recently got a Wii for our apartment and therefore have played a lot of Mario Kart. It’s a great game and I’ve gotten better the more I’ve played. It’s a game that requires attention and therefore is a welcome distraction from my overwhelming school life on occasion. It’s important to me that I play as Luigi on a Mach Bike and would feel off my game if that wasn’t the case. So clearly I’ve played my fair share since I have such strong opinions. Anything that can take my mind off my worries for a while is a win for me. It’s also important that I continue to play until I don’t fall off of Rainbow Road anymore. I will do it one day.

These are a few things that I notice help me when I’m feeling particularly anxious, and I thought I’d pass them along. They may or may not help you, but it’s always good to try different ways to cope so that you know how to handle the increasing anxiousness when it appears. I’m always looking to try new things as well, so leave a comment telling me what random things help you!

Thanks for supporting this blog!

Rachel (: