How the Coronavirus Is Affecting My Mental Health

From a high school senior in the midst of the college application process

Photo: Noah Silliman on Unsplash

My classes are online. I’m home all day. I never see my friends. It’s been rough.

Staying inside all day has taken a toll on my mental health. Over the summer, things were different. I didn’t have schoolwork to stress over. I didn’t have to stare at a computer screen eight hours a day (unless it was my own choosing, of course). I hung out with a good friend of mine on multiple occasions while maintaining a safe distance. Things were good. I was taking the time to breathe. I set time aside for myself to relax and to merely exist. I was greeted by the summer sun each morning. A feeling of hope was always floating in the air. I felt content and safe. Now I wake up and I’m met with darkness. Both literally and metaphorically. There are so many things going on in the world right now, and I wanted to take the time to tell you this, and maybe to even remind myself: it’s okay if life isn’t as exciting as you wish it were.

It’s okay if the days seem to blur together, if some days are better than others. It’s alright if life seems to be uneventful. It’s alright if the only thing you managed to accomplish was looking after yourself. Times are feeling very uneasy right now for a lot of us, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that. We need to stop beating ourselves up for not being happy all the time. For not feeling 100% every second of the day. It’s normal. As the Arab proverb goes, “Sunshine all the time makes a desert.” This quote changed the way I treat myself, in regard to how I’m feeling. Especially in today’s world. A lot of us are struggling right now, and we need to be gentle with ourselves. We need to be in this together and help each other out.

If you feel that you’ve been sinking lately, know that I’m with you. There is no reason to feel shame. This is merely part of being human. We can not be perfect all the time, nor should we expect ourselves to be. I like to keep a list of things to do when I’m feeling this way:

  • Picking up an old hobby — some of mine include photography and playing guitar
  • Dance to your favorite song — this one’s my favorite. I love shutting myself in my room for half an hour and doing nothing but listening to music. I probably look like an idiot dancing around my room, but it makes me feel good
  • Reading — whether it’s a magazine, book, or even a post on Pinterest. Reading makes me feel less alone, while also distracting me from my feelings and thoughts
  • The next time it rains, take a walk — get drenched, play in puddles, be a kid again. Whenever it rains, my mood instantly lifts
  • Call, facetime, or text a friend — sometimes I don’t do this because I’m afraid of bothering them or not wanting to be the one to say something first. But if your friends are good people, they only want the best for you. You could never be an annoyance to them (unless you’re going off on a tangent about how the writers of Gilmore Girls destroyed Rory’s character by season four, then, yeah. They might find you a bit annoying. But they still love you)

If you take anything away from reading this, I hope that it’s okay to not be okay. There are so many people around you who will not judge you for what you’re feeling or thinking. And if they do judge you, then they are simply not worth your time. In times like these, it is okay to put yourself first. If people do not have your best interest in mind, it is quite alright to let them go. And if you don’t believe in yourself or feel that anyone around does, know that I do. I believe in you. Now go out and conquer the world in whatever way you desire. Do it for you, and you alone.

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