Are you starting to feel frustrated or overwhelmed with the COVID-19 epidemic? Are you dealing with the stress and anxiety that comes with it for you, for your friends and/or family? The outbreak may cause fear and anxiety for kids, teens and grown-ups. As we work through this together – dealing with this in a positive way will hopefully make all of us stronger as a whole.
Everyone responds to stressful situations differently depending on things that are going on in their lives at the moment. These things may include your age, things you’ve been through, what you have to support you, and the ways you normally respond to stressful stuff. For example – some people react right away, while others hold it in for a while and react later.
Here are some of the ways you may see stress come out during this crisis for different people:
- Being upset or crying a lot
- Feeling irritable of those around you
- Fear or worrying about what might happen
- A drastic change in eating or sleeping habits
- Unable to pay attention or concentrate on things
- Not interested in activities or hobbies you used to like and enjoy
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
- Changes in mood from moment to moment
- Sudden bursts of anger, fear, sadness, panic, etc.
It is important to understand that everyone is going through a significant loss at this time. You probably don’t think of it as a “loss” – but it really is a significant loss. We need to acknowledge this and let you know that it’s okay be upset about the things you’ve lost as a result of the epidemic.
Before all of this happened you probably relied heavily on the routines and support networks you have at school. Going from seeing your friends, teachers, counselors or coaches every day, to not having access to that all of the sudden, can be a shock to the system. And then to have that last for a longer period of time than expected is even more upsetting. It can feel very disorienting to go a substantial amount of time without having those supports in your life. Now many young people are seeing major events cancelled or postponed, or wondering what will happen with them. These are extremely important concerns. They are concerns that need to be – that should be – discussed and validated.
Here are some ideas for coping with some of that stress:
- Know that it’s alright if you feel upset or scared. If you need help finding some positive ways to deal with your stress you can visit our TOOLS section at teencentral.com. There are some really great resources there to help clear your mind and remain balanced. You can also visit our HELP tab, which provides many helplines and hotlines that will connect you to immediate counselors available 24/7 who can interact immediately with you.
- While it is very important to remain up to date on the epidemic, make sure you are limiting your time on social media sites. Some media outlets can heighten your emotions and create fear where it does not need to be.
- The most reliable and well-researched websites in the world on the topic of COVID-19 are the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the World Health Organization (WHO). If you feel you must look up information please use these websites for the most reliable and up-to-date information and LIMIT information from other sources.
- Please avoid websites and articles that are not backed by reliable research for certain. Skip over all those posts you see on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites you use that you don’t know where the posts are coming from – please.
- Make a routine. Schools are closed. Sports are postponed. Clubs and activities aren’t running. However, it is still important to take time for the things you like to do, having fun and also rest.
- Get outside! While you still want to make sure you are taking precautions, nature is not cancelled. Take a bike ride, go for a walk or hike. All of those things are beneficial to your well being and are safe to do.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. How you feel physically can greatly impact how you are feeling emotionally.
- Remember it is still important to connect with friends and family. Those things can even be done during times of social distancing. Just remember to still be connected, whether that be through text, calls, facetime, Zoom or something like that. Positive relationships drive positive mentalities.
- Take this time to do the things you have been meaning to do but “never got around to it”. Write a story. Finish that painting. Put together a project. Do something every day that makes you smile and feel satisfied.
Above all and more than anything else – know you are not alone. If you need to reach out to someone, the TeenCentral community is here to listen. We will be here to help you through this stressful time.