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Feelings of worry and stress are normal, even in normal times. But the overwhelming cost that the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon the world over the last ten months has thrown stress levels through the roof for many Americans, including children and teenagers.
With families quarantined after being exposed to the virus, many teenagers have been unable to go to school, hang out with friends, or even visit their family members due to the risk of spreading the virus to others. Many studies show the people quarantining have developed symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Parents are also struggling to balance work-related and family obligations while still making time for themselves. With COVID-19 came job losses, struggling businesses, and school closings.
The pandemic has significantly disrupted individuals’ daily routines and social connections. Regardless of whether one was exposed to the virus or not, he or she was still greatly affected in one way or another.
One crucial part of maintaining healthy and stable mental health is time for yourself. Having a couple of minutes of peace to relax may affect a person’s day in many crucial ways. But for many parents, especially those with young children, the pandemic has taken this time from them.
Work and finances have also changed due to the virus. Employers have been forced to lay off people at the start of the pandemic. In July, 16.9 million people were unemployed and of those, 9.6 million (57 percent) were unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic. Job loss can affect a person’s stress in unmeasurable ways.
Research has also shown that major life events in the health, social, work or financial domains could prompt a depressive episode in approximately one-half of the people experiencing them.
For teenagers and children, fear and anxiety about what the future holds can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.
Social distancing can make children feel isolated and lonely and increase stress and anxiety. Signs of mental health decline within kids and teenagers include changes in school performance, excessive worry or anxiety, hyperactive behavior, nightmares, frequent disobedience or aggression, and temper tantrums.
How you respond to stress during the Covid-19 pandemic can depend on your background, your social support network, your financial situation, your health and emotional background, the community you live in, and many other factors.
Taking care of your family and friends can be a great stress reliever, but it should also be balanced with care for yourself. Providing social support may make your community stronger during these times.
One way to maintain social connections during this time is to use phone calls or video chats to reconnect with your loved ones while being distanced and protected from one another. Reaching out to others can make you feel less lonely and isolated.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest several healthy ways to cope with stress and take care of your emotional health:
Take breaks from news about the pandemic, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting to many people and can cause stress levels to rise.
Take time to do activities that you enjoy doing. Even a few minutes of doing something you enjoy can greatly affect your mood and overall health.
Connect with family, friends, and your community. Talking with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling will help take the stress off your shoulders. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail. Talking to others will allow you to have a sense of normalcy.
Mental health is a crucial part of our overall health and wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act.
It may also affect how we handle stress, relate to others, and make decisions during emergency situations. In this time of uncertainty, it is important to reach out when you are struggling with your own mental health or see someone else struggling.
There are many resources available to help anyone struggling 24/7. Healthily coping with stress will make you, the people around you, and your community stronger.
If you are a part of the Tyrone High School community, there is free counseling available through the Student Assistance Program (SAP). Any teacher or councilor can make a refferal for a student.
Here are some numbers to call or text if you are struggling:
Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800)-273-8255
Grief or loss: (800)-395-5755
Drug abuse: (800)-662-4357
Dating abuse and domestic violence: (866)-331-9474
Family violence: (800)-313-1310
General crisis: text SUPPORT to 741-741
Weekly Happy Reminders: text ‘happiness’ to 72599
Mental Illness Helpline: (800)-273-8255