Taking control of our mental health


Photo by Shylee Saladi

Students finding ways to hangout socially distanced.

Shylee Saladi, Managing Editor of Production

Being aware of our own mental health is something that everyone should be doing on a daily basis, but now in this pandemic, it is even more important to acknowledge and be more kind to ourselves and our mental health. Not only has being in-person during this pandemic put more stress on the students, faculty, and staffs’ physical health, but also on the mental health of the entire community. The CDC states that it can be stressful to be separated from others if you have or were exposed to COVID-19”.

Many people may be feeling more isolated and alone because of having to socially distance themselves, “which can lead to a greater feeling of anxiety and stress” states the Mental Health Association of America. The uncertainty of this year due to the pandemic not only puts more stress on being safe but also on social interactions. 

Starting a new school year is already stressful enough without the added pressure of safety measures due to COVID-19. It is of utmost importance to be paying more attention to the effect self-isolation has on our mental health. Not being able to have more than two people per table in the student center can feel like you have to constantly be choosing who you are sitting with every day at lunch, which in turn puts more stress on you individually. As some students see their peers going out and interacting more with their friends, puts more pressure on themselves to be more social during the school day. This especially applies since day students are not allowed in the dorms anymore, which means the only time that many day students get to hang out with or see their boarding peers are during the school day.

Being back at school may cause many more challenges than meets the eye. For one, being back at school after learning online for two months and then being isolated for the entire summer has made it tough for students to interact with one another in person. Many people may be missing how things used to be during the school day, at practice, and after school. Due to COVID-19, many more problems can arise as students try to find ways to interact with their peers.

“Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has brought attention to the widespread experience of loneliness as a public health concern in itself, pointing to its association with reduced lifespan and greater risk of both mental and physical illnesses (Dr. Murthy serves on the KFF Board of Trustees)” writes the Kaiser Family Foundation. The atmosphere at school has changed due to the restrictions caused by COVID-19, which hasn’t been the most helpful for students mentally. Not being able to hang out in the J.C. Cowart Student Center or in the pods in lower Corbin and in the Science Center hasn’t made it the easiest to reconnect with one another. As well as not being able to sit on the couches in lower Corbin puts a strain on how social the students can be.

From the different schedules to the new social distanced classroom setups, the new one-way hallways, and having class in Crown, being back at school hasn’t been the easiest on the students’ mental health. As important and necessary being socially distanced is, it is not always as easy to make new friendships as any grade level.

It is more important to focus on what one can control during this time of increased rules and regulations. To go along with that, it is important to focus on self-care as well as caring for others. Try to take a couple of minutes at the end of the day to reflect on your day and what you can do better tomorrow to benefit your mental health, such as listening to music, working out, reading a book, etc. Take time during your weekend to do something that you love to do, which may include a spa day, going outside, playing sports, and more. Try to keep up with some of your usual routines to have some normalcy during this time of separation. Think of what you can control, like the masks you can wear and the more fresh air you will be breathing from being outside even more than before.

As this is going to be the “new normal” for a while, it is of utmost importance to be caring to others around us and to ourselves, not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally. Be aware of yourself and how you are treating yourself and others on campus. “Coping with stress [and isolation]  in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.” (CDC).