Tips from a Counselor
As stores, offices and schools across the world shut down to move to online work, millions of lives have been upended and continue to change daily. As an unfortunate consequence, many people’s mental health is being negatively impacted.
“It’s very easy to let stress and anxiety overtake everything right now. Many of us are operating in a very different manner than usual as we work and attend classes from home,” said Andrea Euser, a counselor at the Harding Center for Health and Wellness at Marietta College. “It’s helpful to keep reminding ourselves that we are doing the best we can during these extremely unusual circumstances. Our work and productivity may not look like it normally does, but this is not a normal situation.”
Euser suggested a variety of activities that can be helpful to keep your mental health intact during these difficult and unusual times.
“I encourage people to take things one step at a time, focus on doing activities that help, while also identifying and avoiding activities that don’t help,” she said.
“Schedule regular, recurring ‘dates’ with friends, play board or trivia games online together, have themed virtual parties where everyone dresses up like a 1980s hair-band member... There are lots of creative activities we can actually do together online. For some people, just being connected while they each do homework together can be helpful, even without talking to each other necessarily. Reaching out to people we haven’t heard from in a while is good too. We are all in this together and now is the time to help and support each other. It feels good to do that.”
“Journaling can also be therapeutic. Writing down our feelings about what is happening can be helpful for us. It helps us identify and confront our feelings and get recurring thoughts and anxieties out without bottling them all up. Writing down something we are thankful for every day has shown to have positive effects on our mental and physical health as well. Journaling doesn’t have to be extremely detailed, lengthy or perfect, a few short sentences will suffice.
“This is a historic time in the history of the world. Someday, we may have younger people asking us what it was like to go through all this. Journaling can be a great way to help ourselves in the moment, and is something we can refer back to, as a reminder that we got through this challenging time and didn’t let it defeat us.”
Get into a routine
“It can be tempting to stay in bed all day, eat meals at irregular times, not shower, or stay in sweatpants constantly. While these things are not damaging to engage in once in a while, doing them daily is not helpful for our mental health. Try to get up at the same time every day at a reasonable hour. Shower every day like you normally do. Eat meals at appropriate times. Get
dressed in clothes — they don’t have to be dressy or formal, just avoid wearing sweatpants all the time. It’s also important to designate a spot to do your work or homework — do not do this in your bedroom. Keeping your bedroom only for sleeping helps avoid sleep problems and creates a boundary for work.”
Limit screen time
“This is a good habit to get into at any time, but especially now. It is easy to get overloaded with negative news stories about recent events, but this only leads to anxiety. I sometimes take a whole day off from exposure to the news, and I never regret this. There is nothing wrong with watching your favorite show on Netflix, but it is easy to binge watch something for hours at a time. This can get in the way of things we need to do and isn’t good for our mental health.”
“This can be especially challenging at the moment but try to do it anyway. We can maintain physical-distancing guidelines while going on a walk or run outside. Look up an exercise class on YouTube and try it out at home. Gardening can also be beneficial—there is something rewarding about getting our hands dirty, planting things and enjoying nature, even if it’s in a tiny space. If you don’t have a garden, plant something in small pots and keep it on a balcony or in a windowsill. Nurturing something that is alive — even a small plant — feels good.”
Find a hobby
“For those of us who do not have a green thumb, try finding a hobby or activity you always wanted to try out but never had the time for. Knitting, crochet, painting, drawing, cooking, baking, yoga, Zumba, dancing, singing, reading for fun, playing an instrument, writing, dog-training, juggling... There are endless possibilities here. YouTube is full of instructional videos. Find something that interests you and give it a shot. Focus on the process of doing things, instead of needing to have a perfect outcome. It’s the doing that helps us.”
Talk with a therapist
“It’s beneficial to have someone to talk to who is unbiased and can help you process life right now, especially if you are struggling with anxiety or depression. There are various options out there currently, one is to call a ‘warmline’. Warmlines offer emotional support before a situation could potentially turn into a crisis. Each state has their own warmline.”
- In Ohio, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) is currently launching its COVID CareLine, a toll-free and confidential emotional support helpline at 1-800-720-9616.
- If you need to talk to someone, immediate crisis services are available. Text “home” to 741741 to be connected with a Crisis Text Line counselor.
- If you are feeling suicidal, call 911 immediately. Help is also available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.
The Harding Center for Health and Wellness is currently offering telehealth counseling services to Marietta College students, and phone consultations or referral resources for students where applicable. If you have any questions or concerns about our services or about an upcoming appointment, please call 740.376.7744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.