Opinion | Take care of yourself in every way during COVID-19

Students are not to blame for the position they are in right now, but we all need to take responsibility for our wellbeing.


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on March 12, 2020.

Zeina Aboushaar, Opinions Columnist

While the country battles COVID-19, college students continue to deal with increasing levels of stress and anxiety. Universities are exhibiting a high number of mental health issues among students, according to results of a survey study published in JAMA Network Open.

My first semester as a college freshman was nothing like I expected — instead of going through a self-discovery journey, I felt more constricted than ever and the isolation has made the transformation I’ve always looked forward to impossible to fulfill. My experiences with virtual learning are no different from millions of college students across the country.

During times of distress and vulnerability my mother always said, “Be gentle to your mind Zeina,” and these words of advice have been etched into my mind ever since.

But I somehow blamed myself for my situation and felt like I was a failure.  By doubting myself continuously, I disregarded my own wellbeing and emotions.

It’s always important to nurture both your mind and body during these times. It may feel as if the walls in your bedroom are slowly closing in on you. But do not lose sight of your dreams — they are what will keep you going.

We are experts at our own happiness and wellbeing, so fall back into hobbies that have brought you joy in the past. Familiarity in times of uncertainty can finally make you feel alive and will guide you to find peace in solidarity. We all have our own ways of coping which has helped us manage stress in the past, it is up to us to transpire these methods into our situations today.

For instance, I find that poetry and listening to Frank Ocean helps ease my worries and give me the mental capacity to be aware of my emotions. Now, I’m not telling you to listen to Frank Ocean. You should dig deep in order to identify your own strategies and use them in a healthy way.

Maintaining a healthy body can also boost our emotional wellbeing, according to Aiysha Malik, a psychologist with the World Health Organization. The body and the mind are interconnected and implementing healthy relaxation techniques, workouts, runs, meditation, etc. will only enhance your mindfulness. It will also create a sense of structure in your life and implementing a daily routine will allow for growth and reflection to occur.

It is also important to communicate with people that you love and spend social distanced time with them. Seeing your friends and family will reassure you of your support system and help you feel more established and loved. It is these interactions that we build with people that will show us that we are not alone in this fight, and instead to get through it together.

While staying connected is very healthy, take time for yourself each day and step away from the news and all of your schoolwork. Watching the news around the clock will only put in a cycle of doubt and uncertainty, so it’s essential to disconnect and focus on the things that you can control. The overconsumption of news will affect your mental health, instilling anxiety and fear. Allow for yourself to heal without distractions that will eat into your thinking space.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.