This resource was prepared by the Business Communications Lab at the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
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While completely self-isolating in your home is the best thing you can do right now for your physical health, it’s the worst thing for your mental health and social life, both as it relates to class and your day-to-day life outside of class. Having a social network and maintaining mentally healthy habits aren’t just good for you, they are important for academic success.

Staying Socially Active from Home

Having a proper social life isn’t just a luxury; it’s a basic human need. Talking to and spending time with others is necessary for a healthy mental state and happy life. Thankfully, in an online world, it’s easier than ever to do this from home. There are quite a few things you can do to keep in touch with your family and friends.

 

  • One thing you can try is making an online study group for all your classes. You can set these up over Skype, Discord, Google Hangouts, and many other online services. Set aside time each week to meet up online and go over class material, including things you did and didn’t understand, discussion about the lecture and materials, and anything else related to class. The smaller these groups, the better. 20-person Skype calls can get out of control fast. Not only will this keep you socially active, but it will help you succeed academically as well.
  • If you want a social life outside of schoolwork, find things to do with your friends online or over the phone. If you like video games, play online multiplayer games with your friends during your free time. You can find a lot of games to play, some of which are even free, on online stores like Steam, GOG, and the Epic Games Store.
  • If you like watching TV and movies, call your friend, tell them to start an episode of the Office at the same time you do, and watch it “together.” You can even share your video and chat with your friends while watching TV online with programs like Netflix Party and Metastream.
  • If you like to read, start an online book club and meet up online once a week to talk about what you read. You can find many good eBooks on Amazon, and online audiobooks on Audible. If you’re looking for a free option, Project Gutenberg has compiled a massive amount of eBooks that are now public domain for free. If you need a way to read the eBooks themselves, Calibre is an excellent tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers.
  • If you just like talking to your friends, call them every now and then to catch up and talk about life. It doesn’t matter what you do. What matters is that you’re staying socially active despite being isolated.
Maintaining Mental Health in Isolation

Going full online and isolating yourself can be very difficult if you have mental health issues. Isolation is bad for depression, and the sudden change to course structures can trigger anxiety. As noted above, a healthy social life is very beneficial for mental health, but it’s not the only thing you can do to keep your mind healthy.

 

  • Take time to go outside every day you can. While you should avoid being in large groups of people, going to a secluded area like your yard or a forest can help your mental state. Sunlight and fresh air are good for your mental health, especially when you spend the rest of the day cooped up at home.
  • Maintain healthy habits. Drinking plenty of water, eating healthy foods, and exercise are all good for your mental health. Yoga and some cardio exercises are a great way to stay physically active without having to go to a gym.
  • Take some time for yourself. Put time in your schedule to do something you enjoy, whether that’s watching tv, playing video games, reading a book, listening to music, being creative, or anything that helps you wind down. As long as you can manage your time well, there is nothing wrong with taking time to relax.
  • If you are still having trouble, contact professional help. Many therapists and counseling services offer online or over-the-phone sessions. Do whatever it takes to make sure you stay mentally healthy and academically successful during this period of isolation. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is an excellent place to find free and accessible information and support on maintaining your mental health, such as this guidebook. If you need to network with mental health professionals, University of Arkansas students can visit with Counseling and Psychological Services.

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