Social distancing can affect our mental health past the COVID-19 crisis

Tania Ortiz, Assistant Opinion Editor

As we continue social distancing, we are taking everything day by day in hopes of returning to normality. For all we know it could take another couple of weeks, even months, until this is all over. Which could lead to more time quarantined in our homes, without being able to interact with people we care about the most unless it’s through online video calls.

Although we are following directions given to us by health and government officials, being isolated from people can cause mental health problems or intensify pre-existing problems for those who already struggle with mental health issues. 

As humans, we crave connections with each other, it is the way we are wired and how we function on a regular basis. Being in isolation dampens our moods because we can get lost in our own thoughts. Not being able to regularly socialize with our friends and family keeps us from receiving the human connection we crave. In times of chaos, we tend to lean on each other to survive the tough times. Unfortunately, during this situation, we are unable to seek our support systems. All this isolation can lead to different emotions, anger, sadness and anxiety.

According to NBC News, “part of what takes such a big mental health toll during a pandemic is that it goes against the primal human social instinct to seek comfort in a larger group.” Those of us that are typically stuck at home (kudos to the essential workers that are still out there) have a tendency of watching the news because either a) you are bored or b) feeling fearful of what is going on. Listening to or reading  the news causes anxiety, wondering when this crisis is going to end and how soon we’ll be able to return to a normal life. That is if life returns to normal. Cabin fever is to be expected. However, the aftermath of this pandemic can leave us with trauma. The trauma can lead to nightmares, trouble falling asleep and trouble with concentration. 

 Those who are on the front lines of this pandemic, grocery store workers, delivery workers and medical personnel are more exposed to the virus than the rest of us who are at home. Working these types of jobs is undoubtedly overwhelmingly stressful as the demand for these services has skyrocketed. Many of these people live in fear of risking the well being of not only themselves but their families.

While we may not be able to lean on each other physically, we can reach out to friends and family through other means of communication. Call you the ones you care about and check in on how they are doing, to gain a sense of normalcy. Try not to lose yourself in the news, know when to put your phone down or turn the tv off. When you need a break, occupy your mind with other activities like DIY projects, reading books or maybe get some exercise in because there is no telling when the world is going to bounce back from this.