David Dupper reminds you that it is O.K. to not be O.K. right now. But if you’re feeling disconnected and stressed, there are some ways to help you engage with others and maintain balance during this time.
COVID-19 has presented us with an environment that we have never experienced before, and it can be really difficult to manage. You can’t prepare for it, and self-isolation and quarantine can feel like forever. It is ok to have those feelings, and it is important to know that you are not alone.
Bottom line, we all have a choice to make about where we go from here. We can allow this to dominate our lives by living in the past, remembering how things used to be. We can be worried about the future, wondering when this will end and how our lives will be different. Or, we can focus on the now.
Ask yourself: What can I do right now to make the most of my situation? Even if it is not where you want to be, it is what you have. Sometimes, it is necessary to reframe our reality.
This fall, I have worked hard to maintain balance and perspective so that I can continue to make the most of my situations. Below are some of my suggestions for you to consider, and I do many of them myself.
We are social creatures and we crave connection. It is critical to acknowledge this and do what you can to maintain your relationships. However, you will need to be creative. It may be hard, but it is essential. How can you maintain your relationships while in quarantine or self-isolation?
For some, maintaining relationships is where we need to focus our efforts. For others, maintaining a sense of community is key. I highly recommend seeking out a support group. The Student Counseling Center has one that specifically focuses on dealing with COVID-19. Have a Netflix party or try video chat. Just have a conversation with someone—it will help.
Mindfulness is bringing awareness to what you’re directly experiencing. In other words, being in the moment and focusing on your current state of mind, your emotions, or senses is being mindful. But, mindfulness can be a lot harder than it sounds. I recommend researching mobile apps, such as Headspace or Calm, to help you develop good mindfulness practices.
Not a mobile app person? Try keeping a gratitude journal. Simply stopping and taking a moment to write down and acknowledge what we are grateful for can be helpful.
Research and find new opportunities to grow. Some find journaling helpful to explore goals and ways to grow creatively. What have you always wanted to do?
Get out in nature.
When you can, try to incorporate being outside into your routine. Get out into nature. Scientists are continuing to find connections between being in nature and decreased stress, overall mood, and increasing creativity. Although that can be hard if you are in self-isolation and quarantine, something as simple as watching a nature show, incorporating background music that features nature sounds, and finding relaxing channels featuring nature on YouTube is a great start.
Check out Strategies to Cope with Coronavirus Anxiety on Canvas.
Strategies to Cope with Coronavirus Anxiety provides information and proven strategies to cope with coronavirus fears and anxiety. This learning module includes fact sheets on everything from social distancing to the effects of COVID-19. In addition, it includes a unit on Managing Stress and on Mindfulness Practices.
David R. Dupper
College of Social Work
David R. Dupper, Ph.D. is a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Social Work. Dr. Dupper is a nationally recognized scholar in the field of school social work. He’s written three books, numerous book chapters, and many papers on topics including school violence, bullying, school discipline, and at-risk students.