Emotional Wellness During the COVID-19 Outbreak — For — International Students

As the world faces the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s important to embrace healthy habits to help maintain your overall well-being. If you are an international student in the US or if you have returned home, here are some tips and tricks to get through this uncertain time.

Common Terms Defined During COVID-19 Outbreak

What is Social Distancing?

Social distancing is a way to keep people from interacting closely or frequently enough to spread the virus.

What is Quarantine?

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who may have been exposed to a virus to see if they become sick.

What Is Isolation?

Isolation prevents the spread of an infectious disease by separating people who are sick from those who are not.

Everyone handles stress differently during these uncertain times. It is common for many people to isolate, quarantine or social distance themselves from others and it may make you feel:

  • Anxious
  • Fearful
  • Concerned
  • Resentful
  • Uncertain
  • Frustrated
  • Lonely
  • Angry
  • Ambivalent
  • Depressed
  • Insecure
  • Stressed

Top 10 Tips on How to Stay Happy and Healthy

1.
Create a Routine

Creating a schedule and sticking to it can help you and your family adjust to your school and home life environment. Get changed in the morning from what you've slept in, even if you change into different pajamas.

2.
Pace Yourself

When you are studying in your living space, and living in your study space, it can be hard not to separate the two. Try to carve out a separate place to study, and remember to make time for fun things too!

3.
Get Enough Sleep

Find a bedtime that works for you, and stick to it! Studies show that sleep can impact your cognition, mood and relationships.

4.
Get Some Sunshine

If you are able to go outside and be in nature in a safe distance from others (that is, 6 feet!) - then do it! If not, create your own paradise by playing recordings of birds, trees, or the ocean. Research has shown that going outside is good for our mental and physical health.

5.
Listen to the Experts

Seek out knowledge from those who know the most about the situation and listen to them, be sure to know that the information you are getting is from reputable sources.

6.
Stay Up to Date, But Limit Media Exposure

While it’s important to stay up to date with current events, it is important to avoid watching, listening or reading the news 24-7.

7.
Be Your Own Advocate

Speak out about any needs you have, especially if you are quarantined. Inform healthcare professionals of any medications you will need, and work with health officials to find out how you can arrange for groceries and toiletries to be delivered to your home as needed.

8.
Take Care of Your Body

Eat healthy and do exercise daily! Fight boredom, stay mentally active, and avoid burnout!

9.
Break Up Your Day

Find tasks to break up your day and change your environment for different activities.

10.
Take One Day At a Time and Focus on the Positives

Try not to plan too far in the future, but remember that this is all temporary. Focus on good news stories, and honor those who are working everyday to resolve the issue.

Stay Busy and Productive!

While more countries begin to practice isolation and stress levels are at an all time high, here are some great ways to keep busy:

  • Create a virtual community
  • Take an online class for free
  • Cook and eat healthy foods
  • Exercise
  • Pick up or perfect a hobby
  • Practice an instrument
  • Keep a journal/blog
  • Complete a puzzle
  • Read a book
  • Garden
  • Arts and crafts
  • Make your space a happy place
  • Meditate
  • Stretch
  • Pray
  • Write a poem or story
  • Download Duolingo and learn a new language
  • Write down things you are grateful for
  • Clean up your social media (unfollow/mute accounts that make you feel anxious, upset or angry)
  • Learn something new (try a MOOC)
  • Do projects around the house/apartment/dorm
  • Watch a movie or show
  • Set goals
  • Organize and clean your home
  • Try on all your clothes and see which ones spark joy
  • Take a (bubble) bath
  • Coloring books
  • Find something on Pinterest to attempt
  • Interview your grandparents or parents and save as an audiofile
  • Organize your photos or music
  • Work on your financial planning
  • Research your ancestry
  • Dye your hair a brand new color
  • File your taxes
  • Rearrange your furniture
  • Teach your dog a new trick - or cat, or maybe fish?
  • Learn to dance via YouTube
  • Origami
  • Paint a picture (check out YouTube for ideas!)
  • Speed up your typing by taking a typing course
  • Find joy!

Connect with Others

With isolation, come feelings of loneliness. Stay social and make the most out of technology! Scientists have found that isolation is damaging not only to our mental health, but to our physical health as well - yes, that includes our immune systems too! Thankfully, technology allows us to easily connect with friends, family, peers and colleagues. In addition to our standard texting, emails and old fashion phone calls, here are some common platforms to keep in touch:

Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky

Virtual Activities To Do Together

Looking to get your friends and family together virtually? Try some of these ideas:

Game night

Be social with friends and family by getting together to play a classic game, but virtually! House Party is a great app allowing up to 8 people to play games like Quick Draw, Trivia and Heads Up!

Book club

What better time than to pick up a good read and discuss with friends? Download your book online and then choose a date for a zoom or skype session to discuss your book with friends!

Social hour

Whether you’re amongst friends from your home country or just down the street, this is a great opportunity to check in with one another, share experiences and stories about what you’re doing to keep busy. If you're over 21, you can also include wine or beer tasting!

Fitness challenges and classes

Gyms are now offering online workouts for free. You’d be surprised at how far some fitness companies are willing to go to make interacting with your fitness instructor feel like you’re in the same room.

Watch videos in real time

Watch2gether allows you to watch videos together with your friends. Just create a room and invite your friends — it’s free and requires no registration!

Sing Karaoke

With thousands of songs to choose from, RedKaraoke gives you the option to sing your heart out.

Cooking

Cook or bake your favorite dish with friends or family. Swap recipes and you can rotate meals. This can be great fun if you have friends from around the world.

Video games

Play video games online with your friends, or tap into a new social network.

Get Help

Take a mental inventory on how you are feeling. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself what is true in this moment. Be present, and in the moment.

“In this moment, your heart is beating. You’re breathing in this moment. No saber-tooth tiger is coming after you in this moment.” - said Dr. Hanson, Creator of Simple Habit who reminds us of what we can say to our inner selves to help us think about what’s true right now.

Look out for signs of distress, symptoms may include:

Call your doctor or other health care provider if you are experiencing these symptoms, or if you have been depressed or anxious for 2+ weeks.


SAMHSA

SAMHSA Disaster Distress Line

You can also reach out to SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline which has been designed specifically for situations like COVID-19:

Additional Resources


Return to our "Mental Health" section for more information and help