Opinion: How to protect your mental health in quarantine

Columnist Ally Pronina writes her recommendations for staying mentally healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Ally Pronina , Opinions Columnist

“Don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better. And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude refrain, don’t carry the world upon your shoulders. Then you’ll begin to make it better.”

These lyrics are about taking care of yourself mentally. Here are tips, from a psychology major, to do so during the pandemic.

Do what you love

I love reading! It puts me in a world where I am not a college student whose semester has taken a turn she never expected. I am a detective who uses “the grey cells” to solve mysteries. A Nicholas Sparks book I read took me from spending days in an apartment in my hometown of Pella to spending Nights in Rodanthe.  Books have always been my escape from reality. That remains true, novel coronavirus or no coronavirus.

Don’t over-consume media about the virus

It will only increase anxiety and depression. Focus on other things going on in the world.           

Find a creative outlet

Emotions are high, which makes sense considering there has been and will be so much change. Don’t hold it all inside. It’s OK to not be OK.  I express my feelings best through writing, so I wrote on my blog. I felt better as soon as I wrote it and expressed everything I had been holding inside. Whatever works for you — art, music, writing — do it.


My best friend since third grade, who moved last summer, was supposed to come visit in May for a three-day celebration Pella, Iowa, puts on, called Tulip Time, which has since been canceled. We text and FaceTime but I have not seen her in person for almost a year and was really bummed when our plans got canceled. We video chatted recently and that made me feel better. Text and video chat with your friends. If you live with other people, talk to them.

Remember you are not alone

Loneliness can occur when we need someone to talk to but are supposed to be social distancing. Remember, your friends and family always have and will be there for you. If you need to talk, or anything else, reach out to them. After reading my blog, one of my friends texted me that she is there for me. I miss my Iowa City friends more than I can put into words, but knowing they still care reminds me how blessed I am. We all are going through the same thing. We may be Hawkeyes, not Wildcats, but we’re still all in this together.

Be thankful

Thankfulness improves moods more than dwelling. I am thankful to have experiences and people in Iowa City worth loving and missing. I am thankful to spend five months in Pella. I am thankful people continue doing what they do, giving me a sense of hope and normalcy.

Think of life as a tree

Leaves change but the trunks, which keep the tree upright and alive, do not. Life changes but the most important things never do. The world has changed a lot these past couple of months, but as long as there is love and joy, it will still keep spinning on its axis.

Despite these tips, my heart aches for the Daily Iowan newsroom, my friends, and the social psychology lab I work for. While not magic, my suggestions can help us get through the coronavirus. It can help us all be able to say what a character in my second-favorite John Green book did: “I’ve learned one thing about life: It goes on.”