Coronavirus Column: How I maintained my mental health during a pandemic

This pandemic had made me forget about the things I enjoyed, whether it was exercising, writing, or my faith, and something inside of me is telling me that this is the same for a lot of other people as well.

Illustration+by+Michelle+Rodriguez.+

Illustration by Michelle Rodriguez.

Colby Guy, Staff Writer

My mental health has wavered a lot during the pandemic, but I know I’m not alone.

In fact, 80 percent of college students have reported that their mental health has taken a negative impact during the coronavirus, according to an Active Minds study in April. 

Everything I built my life on beforehand was gone and I needed to figure out how to set my priorities straight so I could live without them. My friends were the glue that held me together, so when the pandemic forced me to be alone, I kinda lost it. I relied way too heavily on them and didn’t do things for myself.

The second thing that always kept my mind straight was being on a routine. For me, that meant waking up early, reading my Bible, knocking out a workout at the FAU recreation center, and tackling the tasks that I have for the day. 

I wasn’t alone in that battle, 76 percent of college students have had trouble maintaining a routine according to that same study from Active Minds

When I was supposed to be using my time to grow myself, I spent my time wallowing in my thoughts instead. When in reality I should’ve been picking up new skills, working out, or building my character. 

Starting up therapy is where I began. It gives you fresher eyes on your situation and helps you ask the right questions. Before the pandemic, I was neglecting a lot of things that I had on my mind, so being able to air out those grievances helped me.

Something my therapist said really changed the way I was thinking. 

“Your priorities aren’t in the right place, Colby,” my therapist said, “you need to focus more on what you do have and what you can do to better yourself right now. You need to be less reliant on your friends and more reliant on Jesus.”

My therapist knew that I am a man of faith, so that last part really spoke to me, but from there, we sought to get my priorities straight.

That conversation helped me fix things in my life that I wasn’t even thinking about when everything was normal.

The second step is having a plan in mind. With the help of my therapist, I was able to figure out a way to get some workouts in without gyms open and space out my time so I could be productive..

The biggest challenge of that plan has been attempting to get my sleep schedule in order. Because my sleep schedule has been so erratic as of late, I find myself awake around 5 a.m., but through trial and error, being awake at that time has had some blessings inside of it.

I walk to the beach every morning when I’m awake that early to see the sunrise. It has become an integral part of my routine, something that puts a positive message in my head whenever I see it.

The sun rising reminds me that I was given a new day, a new day to try new things, a new day to work hard and try to be the best person I could be, a new day to be alive and enjoy, and that right there is a true blessing.

The true way to finding good mental health is to always have positive messages in your head, which for me has come through my morning devotionals on the beach. 

I’m thankful for my faith in Jesus and that’s something my therapist has been pushing on me. For everyone else, this is a reminder to remember what’s important to you and to go out and pursue those things as well.

When depression and anxiety wages war on your mind, the immediate response for everyone should be to replace it with something positive. For me, it’s pretty easy to say because there are so many Bible verses to go to that I can replace these negative thoughts with.

A verse that comes to mind for me is Psalm 118:24 that reads “This is the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

For me, when I read it, it reminds me that every day is a blessing and no matter the situation, it is a reason to rejoice. It shouldn’t matter whether I’m stuck in my room during a pandemic or out on a road trip with my best friends.

That verse always reminds me that I need to make the most out of every day and make do with the circumstances I have. I need to enjoy all of the things I have been blessed with and live out every day to the fullest.

This pandemic had made me forget about the things I enjoyed, whether it was exercising, writing, or my faith, and something inside of me is telling me that this is the same for a lot of other people as well.

The greatest reminder I could tell you is to plan out your day and remember to enjoy all of the things you love, even if it is a little harder to do during the pandemic. 

You need to give yourself purpose even if you are isolated from the people you love.

At the end of the day, your purpose is for you, not anyone else.

You might have to get a little creative, but if you put the work in, you can get back to a mental state you want to be in and truly enjoy yourself during these hard times.

Colby Guy is a staff writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @thatguycolbs.