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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Coronavirus

With social interaction on pause, it’s time to prioritize our mental health


By Gerald Sastra/ The Cougar

Gerald Sastra/ The Cougar

It is time to focus on mental health as decreased social interaction, disrupted routines and uncertainty have severely affected us in unprecedented ways. 

Pandemics, as it turns out, are, for most of us, incredibly stress and anxiety inducing. However, it is important to note that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone differently.

Some are experiencing anxiety for the first time and have found comfort in productivity. Others that dealt with anxiety before are struggling to navigate a new world where “making the most out of quarantine” is the norm.  

There is a difference between wanting to occupy yourself while in quarantine and feeling an obligation to be productive. 

Social media posts of people showing off their creative genius during quarantine can make some people feel inferior because they are not creating masterpieces.

However, it is important to realize that not creating art or baking or whatever it might be is OK too. 

Productivity is great but so is just getting through the day. Some days are tougher than others and there is no universal guidebook for how to deal with the emotional drain of a pandemic. You just have to find what works best for you and do that. 

Mental health should be the priority, not the mechanisms we are using to get there. 

It is no surprise that social media usage has increased since restrictive measures were put in place around the world. One of the effects of increased usage is the growing influence social media has on the public. 

Although not officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, social media depression does seem to be backed up by research.

According to a study, users who constantly check social media sites tend to experience increased feelings of anxiety and loneliness—feelings which we’ve gotten plenty of during quarantine. 

So if you have noticed that social media leaves you feeling drained, consider taking a break and safely going for a walk or finding an activity that suits you and makes you feel better. 

Experts are predicting a spike in mental health issues since quarantine and social isolation are psychologically affecting most of us; it seems like now is the best time to prioritize our mental health and well being. 

Mental health has been found to have an effect on physical health and since we are in the middle of a pandemic, focusing on mental health seems like a good step towards staying healthy.

UH has tried to provide students with as many virtual programs as possible. The campus recreation facility has made available several virtual activities for all enrolled students and the University has even made virtual campus tours for prospective students. 

While these activities can be helpful for some, there are some Cougars that need emotional support. 

The Counseling and Psychological Services office has reinstated their “Let’s talk” program. The program started Monday and will hold all appointments remotely, either by phone or video. It will also be free of charge. 

These efforts to ensure the physical and emotional health of the community are tools to help us overcome this challenge. It is up to us to seek the help we need and prioritize our mental health. 

Hopefully mental health continues to be a focus moving forward when we return to normalcy, whatever it might look like.

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

Gina Medina is a journalism senior and can be reached at [email protected] 

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