Secondary Effects: How COVID-19 Has Impacted Personal Health

Two+screenshots+from+sophomores+Lola+Feilke%2C+Callahan+Riewald%2C+Kya+Shatzer+and+Elaine+Zou%27s+group+chat.+It%27s+helpful+to+stay+in+touch+with+friends%2C+whether+to+reminisce+of+better+times+or+simply+share+uplifting+videos.++

Two screenshots from sophomores Lola Feilke, Callahan Riewald, Kya Shatzer and Elaine Zou’s group chat. It’s helpful to stay in touch with friends, whether to reminisce of better times or simply share uplifting videos.

From the stress of wondering about a pandemic, to anxiety over e-learning, to general feelings of isolation, the secondary health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been far-reaching and damaging.

The coronavirus pandemic has come with a sharp decline in physical activity. The University of San Francisco writes, that after WHO’s press conference on coronavirus in March, some regions’ physical activity’s dropped by as much as 50 percent.

E-learning has also correlated with students leading a more sedentary lifestyle.

“Being on the computer for so many hours and sitting in one place can also negatively impact our health and wellbeing,” said guidance counselor Lynda Powell. 

E-learning has been in a struggle for many students in more ways than just physical, however.

“Many students report that they just have a hard time getting engaged in the subject matter and self-advocating with the e-learning program,” said Powell.

Sophomore Darrigan Iberri-Shea agreed, “I’m a very distracted person, so it’s been a struggle.”

“While this is all stressful for students, it is also difficult for teachers and staff, who are missing the connection with students and juggling extra work to do their jobs in a whole different way,” Powell added. 

Arguably, feelings of isolation and loneliness have generally been the most universal and impactful. “It’s been difficult,” said sophomore Quinn Harrand. “One of my greatest fears is being left alone, so isolation has been really hard for me personally.”

 The American Psychology Association writes that social isolation can have adverse health consequences including depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function, and impaired immunity at every stage of life. Isolation can be a scary thing, especially when it’s forced upon us in such a way as it was this year.  

“I realized I found social interactions necessary in my daily life,” said sophomore Lola Feilke.

It’s important to recognize these health impacts in order to find some solutions. Staying in close contact with friends and family, for example, can be extremely helpful.

“I FaceTime my friends, and study for tests with them,” said Feilke. 

“You can only see so much of someone over the screen, but it helps,” added sophomore Callahan Riewald.

It can also be helpful to try to take your mind off of things.

“Keep up or increase healthy habits, such as exercise, relaxation and healthy eating. Find some time for things you enjoy, may art, reading, or just spend time outdoors, and get creative with virtual interactions. Limiting exposure to negative things, such as news, can also help,” said Powell.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that we are all in this together. 

“Our students are so wonderful and have demonstrated a lot of resilience,” said Powell. “I am constantly amazed at some of the caring and creative ways they have tackled this difficult time.”