The social distancing required to address COVID-19 has particularly strong implications for teens. Disruptions to school, sports seasons, and social events may mean the loss of important opportunities to socialize and to work toward personal goals. For many kids, this may increase the risk for social isolation, depression, and anxiety. Here are some tips and strategies to help teens manage their mental health during this challenging time.
Get up, get dressed, and stick to a normal routine. Make a daily schedule that includes activities similar to your normal schedule: schoolwork, sports, friends, meals, and family time.
While it’s tempting to stay up late and sleep in, disruptions to normal sleep cycles can cause depression and anxiety. Try to go to bed no more than 1 hour later than on a school night and wake up no more than 1 hour later than a school morning.
Mr. Rogers said “Look for the helpers.” Research shows that doing nice things for other people helps us feel more optimistic, grateful, and connected. What can you do to be helpful during this time? Ideas: offer to help with house chores; volunteer to run errands for an elderly neighbor; babysit your siblings.
Find ways to meaningfully engage with friends through text or FaceTime. Reach out and check in on people. Ideas: virtual movie marathon; online games; or study sessions. If your parents/current recommendations allow, consider 1-on-1 outings such as hikes or cookie baking sessions.
Get some exercise! Aim for 20-30 minutes of physical activity every day. Ideas: go for a run/walk/hike; go to a gym if open; use a free workout app or YouTube videos for at-home workouts.
If your school offers remote learning, do it! If not, find ways to keep your mind active every day. Ideas: online class; that test prep workbook gathering dust; jigsaw puzzles; sudoku or word games; read a book.
The news can feel overwhelming and the situation is changing quickly. Manage your own and others’ anxiety by only trusting information from reliable sources (state health departments, your school district website, CDC) and avoid spreading panic-inducing memes or false information.
Many of us are facing disappointments this spring – lost sports seasons, school events, etc. But there is almost always something positive in any difficult situation. What is your silver lining? Ideas: keep a gratitude journal of 3 things you’re grateful for every day; find time for the hobby/skill/activity you’ve always wanted to try; try to see how your situation is perhaps better than someone else’s.