Friday, December 11, 2020

How to Maintain Good Mental Health and Manage Stress During the Pandemic

 By: Grace Pereira

How COVID-19 Effects Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a drastic effect on people’s mental health, and teens especially feel the burden of this eight month isolation. The familiar routines and usual ways of life have suddenly shifted to an uncomfortable cycle. Many days may feel like an endless loop on repeat. Quarantine has replaced the real-life connection between peers, friends, teachers, and coaches; to pixels on a screen. Our human desire for face-to-face interaction with others outside of family members is left unsatisfied, and mental health decline is the result.

In addition, the new teaching methods and this unfamiliar school system results in a lot of unforeseen stress. The struggle to maintain good grades using only a Zoom lecture ruptures the capacity to remain focused and motivated to learn. Without someone physically present to guide students, or a peer to work with in the classroom, the assignments may pile up and it is easy to become engulfed in negative emotions and stress.

While these negative effects of new stress and mental health struggles are daunting to say the least, here are a few methods to cope with these feelings and begin a flexible lifestyle that can adapt to this isolation era.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health

  • Take some time to relax. Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, or take a nap to recharge and clear your mind.

  • Call or text a friend. Let them know how you are feeling, and ask them the same. Communicate your feelings to each other, this way you have an outlet for your emotions and can share advice.

  • Talk to family members. Even though we have been stuck with only our family for months on end, day in and day out, communication is key. Inform them if there is something that they are doing that bothers you, and ask for comfort if you are feeling down.

  • Find something new to be passionate about. Whether it’s learning a new instrument, drawing, exercising, or simply writing in a journal, focusing on something new keeps your mind busy, and you may find a new source of happiness, especially since there is more time for it.

  • Take a break from your phone. Yes, this is the cliche every parent says is the cause of all “teen problems”, but there are truly downsides of this constant social media pressure. Sometimes we end up comparing ourselves to others, and in addition, not everything we see on our phones is positive, it’s just designed to capture our attention. So take a break and do something fun and productive!

  • Take care of your body. It is so important to stay healthy, especially right now. Make sure to practice good hygiene, always remember to eat, and exercise. Your physical health can have a direct impact on your emotions.

Tips for Managing Stress

  • Stay focused and on-task with a schedule. List out what you have to do in a day, and assign adequate time for each task. By checking things off the list, you can feel more motivated, and become more productive.

  • Prioritize the important things. Don’t spend time worrying about things that have not occurred yet, and those which you have no control over. Handle every day at a time, and focus on what is important to you. 

  • Get enough sleep. It is important to get 8-10 hours of sleep every night, so you can wake up and feel ready to make the most of your day.

  • Use practical coping skills. Break a hard task into smaller tasks, and do them one at a time to the best of your ability. You do not have to be perfect!

  • Be positive. Now, more than ever, it is easy to become worried due to the seriousness and stigma of COVID-19. Try to eliminate intrusive thoughts, and look for a bright side. Offer support to loved ones and your community to help yourself and others feel more stable during uncertainty.

We Are in This Together

No matter what, we must keep moving forward and try our best to adjust to these unprecedented times. Even though sometimes you may feel isolated and alone, know that everyone is experiencing this for the first time as well. We are all in this together. If you or a loved one needs extra help, don’t hesitate to call the numbers below, or to speak to a professional.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

Warren County 24 Hour Crisis Hotline: 908-454-5141

2nd Floor Youth Helpline (Call or text): 888-222-2228

SAMHSA's National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)



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