How to cope during a pandemic
by Molly O.
Teen mental health has been a subject of discussion for quite some time now and with the pandemic going on it is even more crucial to shed light on what teens are going through. Adolescents with both existing or new mental health challenges have been struggling in the pandemic. In-person school went online or into a hybrid model, events that many teenagers look forward to have been canceled, and interaction with their peers has been limited or cut short.
One of the big things that affect teen health is school going fully or partially online. The lack of structure can make it hard for students to stay motivated and properly manage their time, which has led to many teens having a harder time getting through school than they usually would.
Another thing that went away with in-person school is the social interaction that teens get from it. Since most teenagers are in high school they spend the majority of their time at school, it is where they make most of their friends and learn to get through different social situations, in a way it is just as crucial as the curriculum itself. As a result of this lack of structure and social interaction, many students have found it hard to find motivation for school, and the stress that comes as a result of this academic struggle can be detrimental to a teenager’s mental health.
Teens are longing for their old routines and a sense of normalcy. A lot of the things that would be considered normal—or a given—in a teenager’s life has been compromised by the pandemic, which can lead to a lack of normality and too much of a focus on all the negatives the pandemic has brought with it. Many events that high school students look forward to throughout the year have been canceled and even small things like going out or seeing friends have become much more complicated. When some of the positive things that adolescents can look forward to throughout the year or in their daily lives are missing, it can lead to too much of a focus on the negative, instead of figuring out an activity that is Covid-safe, they might instead dwell on what they can’t do.
While Covid-19 can feel like a never-ending battle and mental health can feel like a tough thing to get under control there are some things that teens can do at home to help cope with some of the anxiety they might be having.
Talk to Someone
If you are feeling anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed, talking to someone can really help. Bottling up negative emotions will only worsen them and make you feel more alone, being able to openly express these feelings to someone can make you feel less like you are on your own. Chances are that you are not the only one dealing with negative emotions, almost everyone has been affected by the pandemic in someway.
Though it might sound clichè and unhelpful, going out and getting some fresh air can be great for mental health. Being out in nature can be very calming especially when compared to trying to navigate stores with the pandemic regulations. Taking a break and taking a quiet walk by yourself or with friends is a good way to get away from all the craziness and give yourself an opportunity to center yourself.
Take Deep Breaths
This strategy is great when you are in a situation where you feel anxious or overwhelmed. To help with anxiety and give your brain a quick reset, breath in for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and breath out for eight seconds. This will allow you to ground yourself if you ever feel overwhelmed by negative emotions. Take as many of these breaths as you need to while making sure you don’t hyperventilate.
Do Something That Makes You Happy
Do something that you enjoy (as long as it is safe for the pandemic). When you do things that make you happy, your brain releases good hormones which help soothe stress and anxiety.