The current COVID-19 pandemic and the related uncertainty can make us all feel scared, stressed, or frustrated at times. Youth are dealing with unique challenges and although coping strategies won’t make those feelings stop coming, they might help you reduce how often you feel them, how strong they are, or how long they last.
It’s an emotional rollercoaster
I want to start by validating your emotions, whatever they are. Our responses to this situation may flip from frustration, sadness, disappointment, anger, and worry; or all of the above. While it’s not nice to experience any of these things, whatever you are feeling is ok. Lots of people are dealing with a myriad of feelings right now, so you’re not alone in that.
Maybe you’re feeling disappointed about canceled events, like high school proms, graduations, or things you had planned with friends. It sucks, and it may feel like all of your time building up to these events has been lost. These things are a big deal, and it makes sense that you would feel this way.
Give yourself some time to be in your feelings and talk it through, if you can, with friends, family or other supportive people in your life. Talking things through, either by saying it aloud or writing it down, can help us get those feelings out of our head and start to work through them. There are lots of apps available to talk through your feelings too. Wysa, Woebot, and Youper are all chatbot apps where you can talk to a bot that mimics a real conversation, and they’re completely free. There are also apps like Talkspace and BetterHelp which connect you with a real therapist for a monthly fee.
Stay socially connected while physically distancing
Staying connected and having a sense of community is so important for our mental health. There are lots of ways to connect with your friends and create new memories while you’re self-isolating; you’re probably already using many of them. The time connecting with your friends doesn’t have to be structured, you can chat online or do something low key like watch a TV show together. Check out @PsyberGuide social media for more ideas on using technology to connect and have fun with friends.
This is also a great time to reconnect with friends or family you haven’t been in touch with in a while. After all, some of us have more free time now, and it’s likely that your friends and family are missing social hang-outs too. Consider connecting with older people in your lives who are self-isolating at this time, you may be surprised that many of them are feeling the same things as you. One great idea is to take this time to reach out to an older adult in your life and ask them to share a story from their life with you — dosomething.org has started a great campaign around that here. You can also read a book together, play a game, or watch a show or movie.
Not being able to see friends is frustrating. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, consider taking a few minutes to just focus on your breath and maybe try some meditation. There are many free meditation apps that have short exercises, some just one minute, that can help you manage these understandable feelings of frustration. Smiling Mind, Headspace, and Stop, Breathe & Think are some great options, and many more are available here. Shine has also put together a great resource hub for dealing with virus anxiety here.
Take breaks when you need to
Ok, so we just talked about using social media and technology to stay connected — but being online all day every day can be exhausting! Make sure you’re taking breaks when you need to. It’s ok to not be online or on your phone constantly, especially when many of us are being bombarded with news and constant content about COVID-19. Consider using the screen time limit feature of your phone to set a limit for yourself for apps. These are not hard limits and can be ignored or extended, but may help you be more mindful about your technology use and help you consider if they are really serving you. If you’re not sure when to stay connected and when to unplug, maybe ask yourself the next time you’re using your phone; am I having fun? Is this helping me? Am I supporting others? If the answers are no, maybe it’s time to take a break and do something else instead.
Other resources to help
Your own journey is unique to you, and you may be dealing with lots of challenges we haven’t talked about here. Know that there are many, many resources out there to help you. Some of them are listed below.
- Tips for taking remote classes
- Tips for students who have been disrupted, including advice and resources for preparing for college and your career amidst the crisis
- Dosomething.org, a non-profit digital platform exclusively for young people and social change, has lots of challenges and campaigns you can join from home, such as sharing tips with your peers around managing stress.
- If you’re in need to talk to someone, you can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line — text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor 24/7
If you’re interested in using apps and technology to help you take care of your mental health at this time, we have created a number of self-care toolkits like this one in collaboration with the Connected Learning Lab which you can find @PsyberGuide. You can also learn more about these apps, and find others, at PsyberGuide.org.
*Reposted with permission from PsyberGuide.org