As of October 6, 2021, of the 700,952 people who have died in the United States due to COVID-19, 4,238 were young people between the ages of 0 and 29. That is less than 1% of all the deaths, but very significant if it was your child or relative or friend. It has been said that young people, teenagers in particular, think they are invincible. But I do not think they think that anymore. They have watched parents die, grandparents die, and friends die from COVID. I think they are scared now. They know they or someone they love could catch the virus at any time. This creates anxiety. They may huff and puff about how it won’t happen to them, but they’re worried.
I mention this because I read an online Fast Company post titled, “6 ways to deal with an anxious brain,” and I right away thought about how it might be used by high school teenagers to ease their anxiety in these scary times. Here a few of the ideas adapted for our children.
- Do Less
Teenagers have many different activities and events vying for their time. Their thoughts are pulled in 16 different directions all at the same time. And now add to their worries that family and friends are getting COVID, people are sick and in the hospital, people are dying. Take time to relax and do less. Take some “me” time.
- Take a hike around the neighborhood. A little bit of exercise is refreshing.
- Read a book.
- Lie on your bed and day dream.
- Write in your journal
- Bake some cookies
2. Simplify Your Priorities
I know you have a lot to think about and handle but it’s not productive to be overwhelmed by the amount. Take one step at a time. Don’t focus on the complete task, just the one step. When it is complete, then you focus on the next step. Organize your tasks into three categories and write them down on paper:
- Needs your attention now, such as that test tomorrow or that one first step that leads to the completed task later.
- Items that can be organized now but completed later such as that essay due next week in English class.
- Projects that need to be thought about and attacked later such as a topic for that research paper.
There are apps that help with organizing your to-do-list such as Evernote, ntask, todoist, etc.
3. Turn Things Off
When your brain is fried and you are overwhelmed by it all, stop checking your social media. The last thing you need is more mental stimulation and drama. Social media is not calming. It is also not a true picture of what everyone is doing all the time. It is a snapshot of one moment in time. So relax, everybody is not really having more fun than you.
Information overload is real in normal circumstances. When you’re not feeling your best mentally, you are not able to process the same amount of information as you would normally.
4. Ask For Help
What’s worse than being mentally drained and scared is feeling that you are all alone with those feelings. You are not alone. In fact, everyone feels that way at some point in time. And is is not only normal but OK to feel that way. What’s not OK is trying to deal with it alone. We all need to talk to someone, hug someone, complain to someone, and cry with someone. Our first instinct is to hide our anxiety and feelings from everyone. People are more understanding about personal or mental health issues than we think.
5. Be Kind to Yourself
Ultimately, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious, or struggling with your mental health, give yourself a little kindness. We can’t be productive all the time, especially in these times with the pandemic. We’re all striving to do our best, and if you need to catch your breathe, it’s OK. Talk to your parents, talk to your teachers and ask for what you need to be productive in these anxious times.