As millions of people remain in self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the term “self-care” has taken on a whole new meaning. Simply putting on a facemask or organizing your closet is no longer enough. The psychological toll of the current crisis is intense, and it is common to be experiencing feelings of anxiety and despair. Amid this sudden upheaval in our lives, it is important to prioritize taking care of yourself. Finding effective coping strategies to care for your mind and body will make this quarantine more manageable.
First, acknowledge how the turmoil and uncertainty of this time might be affecting you. Although some people are experiencing the effects of the pandemic more personally than others, it has negatively impacted everyone. It is not a good idea to repress your feelings or try to “stop worrying.” Instead, validate and process your emotions in order to move forward. Positivity is vital for getting through these difficult times, but this does not mean we should ignore our feelings.
There are plenty of ways to give yourself a mental break while in quarantine using traditional self-care measures. Intentionally remove yourself from the news for a while and escape into a new world through a book, movie or video game. Find an outlet to express your creativity by painting, writing or baking. If you do not feel like doing such an involved activity, meditating or practicing deep breathing will give you a sense of calm and quietude.
In addition to taking care of your mind, keeping your body healthy is also a crucial part of self-care. Prioritize getting sufficient sleep and try to keep a normal schedule amid these uncertain times. Feeling well-rested not only positively affects you physically, but emotionally as well. Try your best to incorporate exercise into your routine, even if you do not have expensive equipment. Moving your body by simply taking a walk or doing yoga is an excellent way to deal with stress.
“To alleviate the stress and emotions of quarantine, I have been practicing yoga more and more frequently,” freshman Zoë Metzger said. “It started off as something to fill time, but now I really look forward to it and it has become something I rely on each day.”
A combination of both physical and mental activities has proven to help students take their mind off of an overwhelming situation.
“To help deal with the stress of both schoolwork and the quarantine, I like to go running during the week and also read numerous books,” said freshman William Lowry. “Getting to be outside and move around helps break up being inside so much, while reading allows me to learn about subjects that interest me instead of solely focusing on schoolwork.”
One useful resource to help deal with the strain of self-isolation is the Iona College Counseling Center. Even though in-person appointments are not available, the Counseling Center is still offering virtual sessions. If you want to request an appointment, call their number at 914-633-2038. They have also started a new Instagram account, @IonaCollegeCounselingCenter, to offer tips and skills to navigate your life in the face of this pandemic.
One final reminder is to be easy on yourself. There have been a lot of discussions about being productive during your free time in quarantine. Considering the unprecedented emotional toll of this crisis, do not feel guilty about not being productive. At times everything may feel normal and you will have no problem accomplishing your schoolwork or checking items off of your to-do list. However, at other times the gravity of the situation may incapacitate you. It is completely acceptable to give yourself time to relax and practice self-compassion. Taking it day by day and doing the best you can is more than enough.