As schools all over the Valley are closing their doors temporarily or permanently for the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students are faced with a serious obstacle that significantly disrupts their everyday lives and regular routine. Although school may not be everyone’s favorite part of the day, school still takes up a majority of their day-to-day life and to suddenly not have that normal 8:00 a.m. – 3 p.m. routine can be unsettling for many individuals. On top of this, a lot of people already have general fears toward COVID-19 due to the many unknowns of the virus, as well as the constant consumption of news surrounding the pandemic.
This disruption of students’ regular routine, mixed with fears toward the virus as a whole, can negatively impact an individual’s overall well-being during an already stressful time in their lives. As confusing and unnerving as the current situation can be, it’s crucial that students and their families strive to create a sense of normalcy in their lives in order to cope with, as well as overcome, any coronavirus-related anxiety.
One aspect that is critical to controlling this anxiety is to establish a regular routine. Creating and sticking with a daily routine enables individuals to feel in control of their lives which is crucial in a time such as this which is often filled with a lot of uncertainty. This can be done in very simple ways, such as setting an alarm to wake you up in the morning, as well as having an alarm to alert you for when it is time to head to bed. On top of this, creating a flexible schedule for your day can help you stay on track, achieve tasks, as well as feel accomplished and productive. It’s important to not overwhelm your schedule with “non-essential” chores or things that can be put on a low priority list,” but to leave time for yourself to re-energize and re-focus. Plus, creating too strict of a schedule can lead to disappointment and frustration if certain tasks are not completed which is not beneficial for your overall well-being. “This is even true with or without the presence of a Pandemic”
Along with building a routine, students should take advantage of their additional free time by taking part in hobbies that bring them joy. Although it’s important to still keep social distancing in mind, there are still plenty of ways that individuals can get moving, get creative and get inspired. Consider painting, reading, home-workouts, writing, puzzles and games to keep yourself busy during this hectic time. There’s also nothing wrong with sitting down to enjoy a new Netflix series. Taking advantage of free time will help to distract your mind from anxious thoughts and will boost your overall well-being.
As the coronavirus pandemic is often perceived as an uncertain threat, this creates a major fear of the unknown for many people. The unsettling nature of this threat can create a feeling of lack of control. When individuals don’t feel in control, this can further damage their mental health and increase their overall anxiety. “It is human nature to try and be prepared, things that we don’t have control over, naturally affects us, it is how we are wired as humans.” For students whose everyday routine has been significantly disrupted, experiencing this perceived lack of control can be extremely detrimental to their well-being. In order to overcome this feeling, students should instead focus on the aspects of their lives that they can control, instead of fixating on the outside world and all the unknowns. To do this, students should spend time on tasks that are achievable and within reach. For example, you can control how organized your room is, how clean the kitchen is, how you dress for the day, what you read, how you interact with others and so on. Focusing on the parts of your life that you can control will help to reign in anxious thoughts about the aspects of the world that are unmanageable outside of your life.
This pandemic has created a lot of uncharted territory for people all over the world. For students whose everyday routine has been significantly rattled by school closures and online classes, having more free time at home mixed with the need to maintain social distancing can leave them with a lot more time on their hands. It’s important to practice and learn ways to calm yourself, center yourself and remain optimistic during these uncertain times in order to overcome anxious thoughts.
Above all, remember that you do not need to battle anxiety alone. There are plenty of mental health experts, such as Valbuena 360° Wellness Center, that are currently offering telehealth and telemedicine who are ready to help.
About the Author
Dr. Paul Valbuena is a double-board certified psychiatrist and founder of Valbuena 360° Wellness Center. He specializes in addiction, adult, child and adolescent psychiatry and his practice focuses on many mental wellness issues including addiction, anxiety and depression. For more information, please visit www.valbuenawellness.com