While most people are preoccupied with COVID-19, it can be easy to neglect other aspects of health and wellness. This period of rapid change and self-isolation has been a stressful time for everyone, but focusing on personal wellness can be a way to mitigate that.
Kayla Johnson, a health educator and promotions coordinator at Moffitt Health Center, said that now is an important time to focus on all elements of health.
“Your physical health, as well as mental health, social health and other areas of wellness, are all important to a person’s overall health and wellbeing,” Johnson said. “Not staying physically healthy and/or not managing stress can impact your body’s immune system, weakening it over time and thus making you more susceptible to illness.”
Although fitness centers have closed for the foreseeable future, it’s still possible to get physically active without risking contact with others. Campus Recreation has started posting daily workout guides and weekly challenges on their social media pages. They have also posted exercise videos taught by their group exercise instructors.
Johnson said it’s a good idea to do these with friends over video calls to keep working out a challenge. Being physically active outside is also an option, as long as people keep their distance from one another.
“With spring weather officially here, if you have a yard you can work in, consider working in the garden or mowing the yard. If you’ve wanted to do some spring cleaning, now is a great time to do that. Though you may be indoors and it may not seem like much, you are still actively up and moving around. Every little bit helps,” Johnson said.
Mental health is also an important issue since people are anxious about the virus and self-isolation. Deena Crawford, director of Student Counseling Services, said her two biggest concerns about students right now are the effects of isolation and the disruption of their routines.
“You’ve got to establish your own new normal, or what I call new abnormal[,] and say ‘OK, this is my schedule. This is what I’m going to do different and this what I’m going to do the same.’ And actually be intentional about your life,” Crawford said.
To combat loneliness and isolation, Crawford said students should utilize social media to stay connected.
“Trying to figure out how you’re connected is very important, like using social media platforms, but not overdoing it… I do think setting up meetings through Zoom or FaceTime can be helpful,” Crawford said.
Peyton Kahl, a freshman nursing major, said that her mental health isn’t as great as it was when she was living in a dorm on campus, but has been doing different activities, such as running, to help.
“Trying to go outside, but still practice social distancing, as much as possible and exercising and eating correctly helps a lot. Also working on hobbies helps keep my mind occupied,” Kahl said.
For those still struggling, Student Counseling Services is offering video counseling sessions to students that physically remain in Mississippi and helping other students find resources in their area. More information about their services and resources can be found at https://www.usm.edu/student-counseling-services/.