The Student
The importance of mental health during Covid-19
by Ece Kucuk, 29/03/20

There is a lot that remains unknown in light of the global epidemic we are currently facing. As self-isolation and social distancing become more imminent in order to limit our exposure to the virus, and as there are those who are currently facing quarantine, the situation that we find ourselves in might become detrimental to our mental well-being. It is important that during these difficult and challenging times, we try to focus on our mental health as well as our physical well-being.

Reaching out to the student body, there were many individuals who had different stories to contribute. Some of them are currently back home, and as they have had to return sooner than they thought they would, many may be wondering what to do. Others have had to remain in student accommodation, out of necessity or by choice; and there are those who have had to make sacrifices in order to protect those they care about.

Nevertheless, it can be said that we are all going through troubling times. It’s important to remember that whatever happens, we are all in it together. That is why, focusing on keeping up your mental health, whether you are quarantined, self-isolating, or social distancing, is so essential.

A couple of changes that have been implemented by some people involve the following: most common, and of great significance, gathered from almost everyone who was asked is trying to keep up a daily routine. Having even a little bit of structure to your life can help keep your mental health up, and feelings of depression or anxiety low.

The NHS recommends that any part of your daily routine you can keep up, you should try and do so as it will add a little bit of normalcy to your life. Along with that, try and stay productive. Set yourself small tasks and goals and keep to them. A feeling of accomplishment can go a long way when it comes to stress or anxiety.

An Edinburgh student who has chosen to remain here to protect her family, as her country already has minimal resources and an unresponsive government, said that she believes it is imperative to “keep a plan and stick to it”.

“ I think that the unbusy mind is very corrosive… so for me the most important is to fill the time with creative activities (whatever that may be, for me it’s writing, knitting, and drawing) as well as being productive, there is no better time to work on my university work than now.”

As well as being productive and keeping to a schedule, finding a creative outlet is just as important. Whether its music or art, literature, even puzzles or just something that makes you happy, find something to help you express your emotions and your thoughts.

Although this epidemic is causing us to have to refrain from socializing with others, that doesn’t mean that we can’t take advantage of the technologically advanced time period we live in and keep connected to our friends and loved ones. With resources such as Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, we live in a time when we can see the people we love in real time. There are also resources like Netflix Party, which allow you to watch Netflix with anyone you want at the same time as them.

Another Edinburgh student commented by saying that, “Something that is very helpful is talking to other people like friends and family about it because it reassures you that what you’re feeling isn’t crazy and that everyone is going through the same thing.” It is imperative that we remain communicating and social, even if it can’t be physical at the moment.

Along with that, one other thing is extremely critical. If you find that although you are doing all these things, and still find your mental health suffering, another thing to focus on could be exercising spiritually and physically.

It is understandable that with everything going on, this might be the last thing on your mind. But it can be helpful to your mental well-being to try, and focus on other needs that your body and mind have. Physical exercise, even something as simple as stretching five minutes a day, can be extremely beneficial as exercise releases endorphins in your brain.

As for exercising spiritually, meditation can be a possible option to put into your daily routine. There are many apps nowadays that assist with things such as this. One app you can use is called Headspace, and doesn’t require much effort other than taking a couple minutes a day to reflect on yourself and your surroundings.

One student said: “I think this is an opportunity to awaken spiritually, meditation and being in the present to deepen our spiritual connection. Adversity can also bring light, when the mind feels helpless, the spirit can arise. And finally, just be kind to yourself and others. Spreading love is crucial at this time.”

At the end of the day, we are going through this as a community. Remind yourself that you are not alone and that there are people who care about you and are willing to help you in your time of need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, be kind and be forgiving. Most importantly, remember to breathe. We have gone through many things through our time on earth, and hopefully, this too shall pass.

Image: Tumisu via