By Catherine Brown–
It is often easier to worry about the physical precautions that we should take during the pandemic. Washing your hands, wearing a mask and social distancing in public are clear ways to care for yourself and others. But when it comes to mental health, it might not be as easy to spot the concerns.
As college students, many of us already probably struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Adding on a global pandemic certainly doesn’t make it any better.
Here are some tips for taking care of yourself during a stressful global pandemic:
Watch for signs of mental distress.
The CDC suggests ways in which you can identify signs of distress. Some of these signs can include fear or worry about your financial situation, or your or someone else’s health, changes in sleeping patterns and difficulty concentrating.
Seek professional help if you or a loved one are experiencing any of these signs and they persist for several days leaving you unable to perform your normal responsibilities. The University of Louisville’s Counseling Center is available by phone at 502-852-6585 on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Refrain from reading the news too much.
Syndicated news channels spin the news in their favor. Stories about tragedies related to the virus can incite panic and negative emotions. The CDC recommends taking healthy breaks from social media and television reports about the pandemic.
When you do use social media, be sure to verify your news sources.
Local governments will usually have the most up-to-date information. Don’t read too heavily into the information you see posted on social media. Anyone can post false information on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc. Don’t fall into the traps of clickbait news. By carefully choosing your sources of news, you can prevent stumbling upon false information that could cause worry.
Take time to enjoy activities while socially distancing.
Practice hobbies that can keep you socially distanced, but can still be done with friends. Some hobbies can include reading, writing, drawing or even coding.
U of L Counseling Center Director Aesha Uqdah gave students tips for coping with the pandemic, such as being creative at this time.
“Engaging in creative activities can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Creating some sort of art or writing can help you process your emotions in a productive way. It can also produce calming effects on your brain and in the body,” Uqdah said.
The Counseling Center is hosting virtual group art therapy sessions on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. starting Sept. 18.
On Aug. 25, U of L is hosting a virtual RSO Fair for students to become involved in their Louisville community. This is an opportunity for students to look for activities that can let them separate from classwork.
Keep in touch with friends and family.
Take time to text, call or video chat your friends and family. Touch base with the people you care most about and let them know that you are alright. This could relieve worries for those of us who become preoccupied with the wellbeing of loved ones.
Take care of yourself physically too.
If you aren’t taking care of yourself physically, chances are your mental health will be affected. Eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and keep up a regular sleep schedule.
U of L’s Belknap campus has plenty of walking trails. With approximately 274 acres of land, the downtown campus is perfect for students looking to get some exercise into their day. Even walking from campus housing and between buildings can improve physical health. Improving physical health will improve mental health.
Make sure you put your health first. It might seem more worthy of your energy to worry about others. However, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t put in your full effort to take care of those around you.
File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal