COVID-19’s silver lining: How I’m using the pandemic to improve my mental health


Kira Matheson

My sister and I taking a walk past the now vacant school campus.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a busy person. Balancing honors classes, demanding extracurriculars and my job took up all of my time; it was really the only way I knew how to live.

It took a nationwide shutdown to show me that the way I was living was unsustainable.

With the rise of the coronavirus, a majority of Americans found themselves confined to their homes for the past month. Many of them are either working from home or no longer employed, forced to find ways to keep them occupied for the foreseeable future.

This is the first time in my entire life I have had nothing to do. As a student, I attend online school, but other than that, I’m homebound with no real responsibilities. No more competitions, no more late-night rehearsals and no more shifts at work.

The strange part is that it’s kind of a relief.

For many, this is an extremely pressing time. But, because I no longer have real academic or social stressors, I’m not as overwhelmed as I would be in everyday life. Though I am obviously worried about the state of the world, there’s something to be said about hitting pause on life and just existing day to day.

Additionally, the remote learning option gives me the flexibility to work on my own time, as it is not as demanding as a typical school day would be. I’m able to do simple things like go outside in between classes, something completely unattainable when you leave school at 8 p.m. every day.

In a society where students’ mental health is declining, this break from the rigorous grind of school is a blessing. Within only a year I’ve watched my friends debilitate, overworked by college stress and in-school pressure, all trying to enjoy their last year of high school without drowning.

Now we’re able to take care of ourselves, like getting quality sleep for the first time in what seems like four years. I’ve been able to eat three meals a day, go on walks and be a functioning person, which was honestly easier said than done in February.

The most exciting part is that I’ve been able to pick up old hobbies I had to leave while in school. I started to paint again, which reminded me of how happy it used to make me. Having nothing but time forces people to be creative, which I embraced with open arms.

For most of us seniors, this “stay at home” order is a wrecking ball to our last hurrah of high school. I will likely not have my dream prom experience. My grandmother will likely never see me walk across a stage to get a diploma.

Though I’m not trying to downplay a significant event, this is the cloud’s silver lining. I can’t say I’m not upset about everything I have lost, but focusing on what I can gain has made this whole experience more bearable. I will take care of myself, appreciate my loved ones and play my part in flattening the curve, waiting for life to begin once again.