The Coronavirus took us by surprise when we first heard about it earlier this year. Our way of life has drastically changed, and it may be difficult to cope with the new scenario we have been placed in. I know I have been personally affected by the Coronavirus and have observed that putting my health as a priority has helped me cope with it. Also, in order to flatten the curve, social distancing is absolutely necessary, and we should continue to follow it.
The Coronavirus has spread throughout the world and has negatively affected many countries. As of June 2020, the world has 6.42 million confirmed cases with over 300 000 deaths. In Canada, we have had 93 000 cases with over 7000 deaths. According to the World Health Organization, the virus is contracted through airborne respiratory droplets. Thus, it is highly contagious if you are within close proximity of others, or if you have contact with an object/surface in the premise of someone who is infected. It especially harms those who may have a weaker immune system such as recovering patients, the young, and the elderly. Therefore, you may feel anxiety and fear for family members that are a part of this group, which is normal. Or, perhaps you may feel anxious about the future after this virus. Nonetheless, there are many mental health resources through online chats and phone calls that can be accessed readily. (Refer to the bottom of this article for mental health resources that can give you someone to talk to.)
As a young person, it is your responsibility to socially distance to prevent the spread of the virus, and to protect those who are vulnerable to the virus.
The thought of the Coronavirus can be quite scary at times. You may have lost your normal routines, and it may be hard for some to accept the changes to their lifestyle. Many of us do not have the opportunity to visit relatives and friends that are close to us during this time, and it is understandable that this may bring out feelings of fear and anxiety. However, as youth of this generation, we should be leading by example, and resist temptations to go against social distancing.
It’s important to know that we’re all in the same boat, and social distancing affects everyone.
It can be pretty tough at times to be physically isolated, but there are some things you can do to make it better.
1. Practice proper nutrition
First off, being nutritious should be a priority. Be sure that you have balanced, healthy meals throughout the day. It can be quite easy to forget but keeping your nutrition up will keep you physically healthy, and will contribute to your mental health as well. At times like these, you need your immune system to be as strong as possible so that any infection including the Coronavirus can be fought off by your body. Additionally, a lack of energy is a common occurrence in social distancing, and this can be helped by eating nutritiously and drinking plenty of water.
2. Be hygienic
Make sure to take similar precautions as if to avoid the flu in the winter. You should avoid touching your face, eyes, or nose, and cough into your sleeves. Make sure to consistently wash your hands with soap and water and avoid touching public surfaces that are not sanitized. If you feel symptoms such as, fever, cough, or inflammation, stay isolated and be in touch with a doctor over the phone to check up on your health. Monitor your symptoms and if you feel difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately.
3. Pick up a new hobby/pastime/skill
Having a hobby or pastime is great for expanding your own skills and being able to keep yourself occupied. There are many things you can learn to do that you previously did not have time for (such as art, a skill, an instrument, etc.). By doing something challenging you can help keep your brain active and healthy. It can help pass the time, distract you, or even give you something to look forward to.
4. Go for walks, bike rides, etc.
Fresh air can be calming, and a change of scenery can help with the boredom you may face being indoors. It can also help you escape any stresses you have and to live in the moment for a period of time. Plus, being indoors all the time can have a negative effect on your mental health, so going outside can help you stay healthy. Studies show that being exposed to natural environments can help reduce the risk of several diseases, and at this time your immunity is of utmost importance.
5. Check up on friends and family
Arrange a date and time for a virtual meeting with friends and family, so you can still be “social” while social distancing. As human beings, we need to remain social in order to stay healthy, and it can be done just as effectively not in person. Having someone to talk to can be refreshing and clear your mind of stress and anxiety. This can help ease your worries about others’ wellbeing and be an opportunity to check up on those who you haven’t spoken with in a long time.
Exercising is beneficial both for your mental and physical health. It can help you release stress and also feel healthier. Now is a great time to take advantage of exercise machines you may have, or any basic workout routine requiring minimal equipment. Exercise can help prevent the future development of various heart diseases and is a great way to maintain your health. Since social distancing has kept us indoors more, being active can help substitute the exercise you normally got before the virus.
7. Stay alert, but don’t obsess
Being aware of news and reports about the Coronavirus is helpful. However, obsessing over new news reports and being in a constant state of anxiety can be detrimental to your health. Maintaining a balance between staying aware and not being too anxious about the news is one of the best steps one can take to cope with the virus. Everyone handles stress differently, and it’s important for you to know what method works for you. If you feel the need to take a break from the media, you should.
8. Know where your information is coming from
As of now, there have been many false sources of information about the Coronavirus that have tricked many people into doing things that can have a negative impact. If you are looking for information, make sure it is from a reputable source such as a news channel or a well-known website. This can help prevent the spread of misinformation and help circulate truthful information.
All in all, the Coronavirus is here to stay, and we can only seek to improve the situation if we put our minds to it. Your health should be a priority over work or school at these times and being able to have a balanced lifestyle is crucial. These times are difficult for many people, and often you may need someone to talk to. When socially isolated, having fear for your parents, family, and friends is normal and expected (especially if they are frontline workers). If this is the case, a family member, friend or trusted adult may be able to help you cope if you have worries or are anxious. Additionally, you can contact KidsHelpPhone at kidshelpphone.ca or at 1-800-668-6868 to express any concerns you may have to a counselor.
Remember, you can only make the best of social distancing if you choose to, and these steps may be a leap in the right direction towards making the upcoming months easier to bear. You should prioritize staying healthy and may even come out of this situation as a better person!
The most important thing you can do is follow the advice of local health officials and be safe.
Additional Mental Health Resources:
https://www.crisistextline.ca/ (for crises)