/The strain of social distancing on the mental health of students

The strain of social distancing on the mental health of students

By Vivian Ealy

Awkwardly stumbling through their pubescent years, high schoolers struggle with a lot of issues ranging from friend drama to late assignments; however, one thing many high schoolers seem to have in common is their struggle with mental health. To deal with this issue, many students reach out to family members, friends, and school counselors to talk about and discuss what they may be feeling. However, the virus that has been plaguing pretty much our whole world has sent us into an unexpected quarantine where we are expected to social distance from one another. 

This isolation can take a serious toll on the mental health of everyone, especially students who are used to the constant engagement with others throughout the school day; also, students usually have access to resources for their mental health like school counselors and psychologists. Physical distance has made it difficult for students to reach out and find adequate help. 

Here are a few words from some students commenting on how the quarantine has affected them and their mental health, along with some advice for others who may be struggling:

“It’s definitely a new experience for all of us… It’s been really hard not to see people because I am a super social person and I am involved in a lot of things so I’m usually always busy…One big thing that I had to change was my workout routine. Being fit and doing physical activity definitely plays a role in my mental health…[I] noticed that I was getting out of shape and I had to find a way to get myself back in routine and once I figured out what that was for myself, I was a lot happier. My family has been the biggest supporters during this time and it’s been great to spend so much time with them. 

It’s spring and the earth is beautiful so get outside. Even if it’s just going for a walk it will help clear your head and it’s so good for you whether you think it is or not…Just always remember that there’s people around you that love you and we will get through this eventually.” 

Grace Bowman, Junior. Photo courtesy of Grace Bowman.

“Quarantine has been difficult, but I have amazing friends and neighbors who I talk to and who I know will support me. This is the reason I feel my mental health has not deteriorated too much over quarantine. Even though quarantine is hard, I seriously recommend talking to people. Sometimes just having people to listen to you is the best thing in the world…Also, I think it is really important to go outside! And of course, meet people while social distancing and with proper protection. Just going outside, being in the sun, and talking to people even if they are 6 feet away from you can be so helpful and meaningful during these tough times.”

– Ayush Iyer, Sophomore

“I find a lack of energy/motivation to even get up everyday. There is no schedule or routine I feel is important enough to maintain. On top of that, there’s so much uncertainty which causes anxiety about the future for me. Also, my relationship with my family is not the best, so having to be isolated with them has been pretty difficult to me. I find it easier to sleep all day and avoid my family, school work, basically everything.

I would say it’s important to find a purpose. Try any random activity to keep yourself driven. I’ve been baking a lot and it’s helped me keep somewhat focused.”

Bela Acosta, Junior. Photo courtesy of Bela Acosta.

“I’m doing well during quarantine but it’s also hard because I really thrive when I am around other people, laughing, talking, and having fun…For me the hardest part is just sitting alone all the time without my friends to talk me off a ledge when I’m stressed out or overthinking something. 

Another difficult thing is that without my sport, swimming, I don’t really have an outlet to channel my stress or worries into. I have had to find other ways to deal with my emotions but I really just want to get back in the pool.

I think it’s important to remember that almost everyone is struggling during this time for a multitude of reasons and that you aren’t alone. Reach out and check in on all your friends regularly and let them know how much they mean to you. It’s a great feeling to know you are making others feel better too.” 

Hope Boldizar, Junior. Photo courtesy of Hope Boldizar.

“I’ve been feeling trapped and lonely, but have been going on runs and hikes to give myself time to think by myself instead of being trapped with my family. It’s okay to reach out to people, it doesn’t make you seem weak, we’re all going through this together.”

Sammy Yohe, Freshman. Photo courtesy of Sammy Yohe.

“It’s kind of weird; it feels like stuff is getting better and worse at the same time. I get to work more hours at my job, which is nice, and it gives me something to do. Also, not having to wake up at 6 am every morning is pretty cool. On the flip side, I’m somehow more stressed out about school than I was before quarantine. It feels like the workload has doubled and managing it has been really difficult. It sounds kind of overdramatic but I’m at the point where I’m more stressed out about managing my schoolwork than I am about potentially being exposed to the virus itself at work.”

Shayla Reichenbach, Junior. Photo courtesy of Shayla Reichenbach.

“Quarantine has been kinda rough. I’ve had a hard time keeping up with all the work, along with AP test prep. I think finding motivation to do the work is somewhat difficult, however I think the fact that I can’t see any of my friends is also hard. The social interaction that school gives us is hard to match with FaceTime and Zoom calls. I try reaching out, but we are all busy with school work, [and] that social interaction is hard to achieve. 

I think that finding a new activity is really helpful. I like to find new books or do fun crafts. Between schoolwork, I also find myself watching youtube videos and tiktoks to unwind.”

-Sophie Yost, Sophomore

“It has been challenging for me to face the new normalities of life during a pandemic and mind boggling to think about what the future holds. For me, finding hobbies, connecting with friends online, and keeping up with school work has kept me busy, allowing me to focus less on the uncertainties of the pandemic.”

Jack Sheehan, Junior. Photo courtesy of Jack Sheehan.

“I’ve been spending more and more time with my family. Although, my friends are a huge part of my life and I haven’t been able to see them the way I used to. I’ve reached out to my friends from school as well as my teachers. Exercising really helps me and being outside gives me a chance to escape the new reality. Also, making to-do lists has helped me feel accomplished and not have such bad anxiety over work for school. 

You are not alone, everyone fights this battle differently. Reaching out to people you may not be the closest with and just having a conversation makes things seem more normal. Being positive is extremely hard, but it’s what is needed.”

-Brynn Magrini, Sophomore 

Many people are finding ways to keep busy, but it is clear that the isolation has taken a toll on the mental health of many students. It is important to remember that you are not alone and that there are others around you who would love to help. Get outside, try a new hobby, or just simply try to relax; and, remember, this quarantine will not last forever. 

Make sure to check out Manheim Township’s resource page for more information about how to contact the school psychologists and counselors.