Mental Wellness in the Time of Corona – A Wellness Blog Series with Professor Ella Roininen Part III

Blog article Part I
Blog article Part II

In this third blog installment, we will get a bit more personal. In the past two installments we found out what mental health is and what can affect one’s mental wellness, especially in the time of a pandemic. It is not an easy time especially with the continuing uncertainty of how COVID-19 will pan out. We’ve talked about what to do to help yourself, but what about helping others and what not to do? And what is the Karls doing to help us students and faculty during these times? Let’s dive back in one last time with Professor Ella Roininen.

How are you really?
Be are of your feelings is the first step to help yourself. Photo by Finn on Unsplash

Reilley:
How should I go about things when I feel isolated?

Ella:
When I feel isolated even though I’m with others in a group due to the Corona distancing practices? I suffered from the isolation, too, and what helped me most was maintaining a healthy routine and thus, a healthy relationship to myself. Keeping my eye on the ball, so to speak. I also actively sought contact to other people via online tools. Isolation is actually a bit inaccurate term in this context, as it can also present us with opportunities to deepen our relationships, create new ones, and recognise and show our vulnerability. These all can help us to grow and live a fuller and more loving life. 

The Distancing is not natural to us. It feels stupid, to put it blunt. I’d say we just have to go through it, like it is with some things. When there is no way under or over, we need to push through. One day we’ll be able to hug each other again and that will feel so good.

Reilley:
How can I help myself and help others? What are steps someone can take if someone near to them feels lonely and they can’t be physically reached? 

Ella:
You can try to reach out for the other person by telephone, messages, food or small gifts even, show how much you care. I really appreciate those dear people who are thinking of me and take time to WhatsApp and talk to me, ask how I’m doing, especially when the city was empty and there was nowhere to go. But the person also needs to want to be helped. People have different ways of coping. Perhaps someone is happiest alone. If you are unsure, it’s always ok to ask.

Reilley:
What should one do when panicking about the pandemic?

Ella:
What helps me when I am really anxious is, apart from physical activity if I have the strength for it, is reading encouraging and wise books and writing myself. Now I don’t mean the smart or eloquent type of writing, but just free flow of topics and emotions. Whatever your heart and mind sends out there. You can also try writing a letter to someone without sending it. Once things are out of your system, they start getting smaller and less threatening, organised in their rightful place. This sound like a gimmick, but it’s not. Try for yourself. Of course talking to a trusted friend or person helps too, this is always a good thing to do. 

Reilley:
Is there anything one should avoid doing; are there any “do NOT’s” ?  

Ella:
Obviously, the opposite of what I have mentioned above: purposefully driving oneself to a physical and mental state of agitation. Part of this is to limit negative input from the news, social media, films, music, negative or demanding people. It makes sense to choose carefully not only what to put inside our bodies, but also how we feed our minds. That’s mind junk food. I may taste good at first, but in about half an hour one gets pulled down into a stagnation and digestion problems…

Reilley:
What steps can I take if I find out I or a close friend or family member has Corona? What can I do when I feel so powerless (lack of control)? 

Ella:
Luckily, I have no experience of this situation, so my advice may not be an informed one. Generally speaking, if you have a well-trained resilience and acceptance muscle, you are in a better position to cope.

Reilley:
That’s some really helpful advice. Does the Karlshochschule still offer mental health services for us students? 

Ella:
Yes, we do. The same contacts apply as before (me and Annette Gisevius), although somewhat limited due to the holiday season. Just reach out to us.

Reilley:
What if I want to do learn more about mental wellness and health? Are there any sources you can recommend for those of us interested in reading more, e.g. books, texts, articles, or even films?  

Ella:
There are lots of good material around! I have a wealth of recommendations, but I’d rather do this on individual basis depending on the person’s specific concerns and situation. 

Things to do to avoid the blues
Everyone is helped by something else when they are feeling blue.


Moving forward, there will be a lot of uncertainty for us as individuals and as students. The Karls is able to open up in-person lectures, but there is still the possibility that online lectures could also remain in place. After speaking with Professor Ella, one of the first big steps is to recognize this ambiguity and acknowledge that it will be like this for the foreseeable future. If we focus on what we can control and can actively do, we can better fortify our mental resilience. In doing so we can keep mentally well and be able to enjoy this unique time; we will never have another time exactly like this. Take the time to enjoy any extra time you may have to catch up with friends, take care of your new plants, or even bake some bread if that’s a new skill you’ve picked up since the start of COVID-19 – I know I have! 

If you or a Karls friend feel the need to speak with someone, reach out to the Karls’ mental health services, as Professor Ella noted. We are presented now with a unique opportunity, and despite its disrupting all aspects of our life we can do something meaningful. So go out there and take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally so you can go out and make a change.

Reilley Wehrstein,

P.S. Below is the contact information for the Karlshochschule mental health services, as well as my email. If you are a potential student who has studied at another university, comes from the US, or just wants to chat with a current IB students, feel free to reach out!

Prof. Ella Roininen – eroininen@karlshochschule.org
Prof. Annette Gisevius – agisevius@karlshochschule.org
Reilley Wehrstein – rwehrstein@karlshochschule.de

By Reilley Wehrstein *RW International Business, 3rd Semester (KarlsStorytellers

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