Isolation takes toll on mental health


Nature and exercise, while helpful, aren’t the only things that can be done to increase mood and energy. Food is inextricably connected to mood. Photo courtesy of: Cali Carlson

Alex Schoff, Editor

Right now, the majority of people in the world are either stuck inside alone or with family. Both can be extremely taxing mentally, according to mental health experts. Self-esteem can drop, exercise can be neglected, and people generally can just feel sad. Sierra Nevada University students are among those currently in isolation and being at the end stage of adolescence is arguably the toughest time to be alone.

“I’m not really losing it, just maybe some slight insanity,” Dave Nunes, a freshman at SNU said. “I don’t have that social challenge in my life anymore. I just feel sort of dormant.”

SNU students have the ability to speak with the SNU’s mental health counselor, Kelly Root, even while being quarantined. She uses platforms like Facetime and Zoom. However, the number of students who have been reaching out to her has dropped since the pandemic started.

“I know people are certainly struggling because of my own private clientele that I see,” Root said. “But in terms of the students taking advantage of this campus-wide resource of mental health support, they haven’t really done much.”

While students may not be reaching out if they are struggling with isolation, there are things they can do on their own to boost morale while stuck at home.

“Go outside and get exercise. One of the fastest ways to change the chemistry of your brain and basically get all of the good fun happy chemicals going is to be outside in nature and to move your body,” Root said. “And breathing. Anything that fills your lung capacity for a good amount of time is really helpful. Slow deep breathing will instantly calm your nervous system which will then stop your body from producing stress hormones.”

Keeping the mind occupied is also a great way to stay positive. Now is a better time than ever to try and get those tasks done that have been put off for so long.

“I’ve just been staying busy,” Nunes said. “It’s mainly revolving around skating and snowboarding. I’ve gotten into running. I’m currently trying to fix my bike, and I’ve just been doing a lot of yoga and just trying to rehabilitate my knee.”

Nature and exercise, while helpful, aren’t the only things that can be done to increase mood and energy. Food is inextricably connected to mood.

“I’ve been looking through Pinterest a lot and have found a bunch of fun recipes,” Cali Carlson, an SNU sophomore said. “I don’t have to think about anything else when I’m cooking. It’s good on the mind. It’s a nice way to do nothing while also doing something.”

Carlson is right. Good food at a time like this is essential for not only physical but mental wellbeing too.

“If you’re sitting around eating a ton of junk food all day long your body is very likely feeling pretty heavy, pretty lethargic, and it takes a lot more energy to have to break down those molecules,” Root said. “If you think about the energy of a bag of potato chips versus the energy of a yummy, sweet, ripe, mango or apple that’s what you’re going to get. You become what you eat, we all do.”

For any students struggling with the feeling of being isolated, or, for any mental health concerns, please reach out to Kelly Root. An email was sent out to all students regarding how to contact her.