Social distancing’s positive effects bring challenges for App State students

Michael Lillywhite, Reporter

Across the country, “Social Distancing” guidelines are protecting lives from COVID-19. Keeping distance from others, and staying home are ways citizens have learned to “flatten the curve.” While safer physically, social distancing has introduced unforeseen obstacles to mental health for many people.

“Social connections are an important part of our wellbeing, and with ‘social distancing’ can come feelings of sadness or grief from loss of our usual relationships, and potential loss of regular interactions with others that provide us with support,” said Chris Hogan, director and chief psychologist of Counseling and Psychological Services.

Hogan said he recommends the term “physical distancing” be used, which maintains social connection while keeping physical distance from others.

App State students are among the thousands of students across the country left with no option but to take classes virtually from home.

For freshman Nisha Srivastava, a psychology major, social distancing has impacted her personal and social life.

“I find myself with increased levels of anxiety and a lower mood because I’m not able to spend time with my friends,” Srivastava said. “Spending time with people helps me de-stress and helps my depression by alleviating my mood.” 

Depression is an obstacle Srivastava faces, which is worsened by social distancing.

“I find myself wrapped up in my own thoughts most of the day, which allows for overthinking and anxiety to take hold,” she said.

Madelyn Pardue, a sophomore secondary history education major, said social distancing has impacted her home life the most.

“Not only am I having to figure out how to manage my online coursework at home amongst chaos, I am also helping my mom be a full-time teacher for my two younger siblings,” she said. “This all puts a huge amount of stress on my siblings, who both have learning disabilities and do not have the resources they need to succeed at home.”

Social distancing makes Laisha Marquez-Martinez, a freshman psychology major, feel “helpless.”

“It’s been affecting me by leaving me with more time to deal with issues that I’ve been pushing back for the longest time,” she said.

Social distancing may bring unprecedented obstacles, but they are obstacles that can be overcome, Hogan said.

“COVID-19 may create feelings of uncertainty and anxiety, and our relationships with others are often a buffer for dealing with anxiety,” Hogan said. “The ways that we connect socially, however, may be different, and we may need to be intentional about scheduling time to video chat, scheduling time to go for a walk with someone while maintaining a six-foot distance.”

Counseling & Psychological Services is open for students locally and virtually, with changes put in place to keep people safe from the virus. For more information on what CPS is offering, go to