Social Distancing has a Negative Impact on Mental Health

Though social distancing is the best defense against the spread of COVID-19, it can be taxing on the mind to be away from loved ones.

Courtesy of the CDC

Though social distancing is the best defense against the spread of COVID-19, it can be taxing on the mind to be away from loved ones.

Gracie Warda, Writer

While a stay-at-home order has been put in place to protect the physical health of people, the effects on mental health have been largely ignored. 

“I’ve heard people say that they’ve been able to enjoy and initiate hobbies, spend time with family, and do things that they longed to do but didn’t have the time,” said Counseling Center Social Worker Valerie Jackson. “On the other hand, it has caused many stressors, heightened anxiety, and even depression …” 

The negative feelings caused by social distancing seem to overwhelm the positive ones. According to a recent social media poll by The Michigan Times, 100% of respondents said that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. 

“So much time spent by myself has made me question my mental sanity, running through a list of possible mental illnesses I could have after being alone for an extended period of time,” one respondent said. 

“It has made life so difficult. I can no longer leave my house safely and I’m going insane just sitting around,” another respondent added. 

That being said, this impact can be different for everyone. Some people may find social distancing to be the worst part of the pandemic, while others have a hard time staying motivated. 

“This has affected us all in many different ways so it’s really relative to the individual,” said Vice Chancellor for Division of Student Affairs Chris Giordano. “The one thing that is important is that people practice social distancing and established safety precautions.”

However, even with the current pandemic, there are things people can do in an effort to improve how they’re feeling.

Firstly, it’s important to be mindful of what news a person is reading, watching and sharing with others. The CDC recommends fact-checking and sharing accurate information in order to calm nerves about the virus. Consuming inaccurate news and rumors will only make anxieties worse, they explain.  

“… there are those who are fixated on COVID-19 news stories and the 24/7 news cycle which could potentially increase anxiety, depression and feelings of hopelessness/helplessness,” said Jackson. 

There are also certain activities to do that may be worth considering. 

“Studies have indicated going outside of your house and getting fresh air … taking a walk or riding a bike are good stress relievers,” said Jackson. “Perhaps try exploring a new hobby or two. Or do research on a topic that piques your interest. Crossword puzzles or putting together a complex table puzzle could be a good distraction. Calling friends both near or far; reading a good book and journaling one’s feelings can be a great source of relief!” 

For those looking to seek professional help, the Counseling and Psychological Services Department at the university may be helpful. During this pandemic, CAPS is offering online services and tips for managing mental health. Call 810 762-3456 to set up an appointment or visit the CAPS website.