In a world full of unknowns with things changing every day, life can feel pretty scary. The global panic around the coronavirus (COVID-19) is a once in a lifetime event stressful enough to make anyone feel anxious, stressed out, and even hopeless. For those of us who already experience these feelings, the COVID-19 situation only magnifies our struggles. You are not alone.
No matter how you are responding right now, please know that your reaction is normal in such an uncertain time.
As peers with lived experience, we wanted to contribute a list of things to help us get through this difficult time. We’re all in this together.
Focus on What You Do Know
Right now there are a lot of unknowns. All we can do is focus on what we do know and do what we can to stay safe. Wash your hands, wear a mask, stay home if you can, and keep at least six feet between you and other people.
Turn Down the News
It’s okay to stay up-to-date with the latest information as long as you aren’t glued to your phone or TV. Too much news can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Consider trying something different. Youth Empowerment.com is a mental health website designed by youth for youth. Here, you can share your experiences, connect over what is important to you, and find the resources you need to conquer the challenges in your life.
Find the Good in Social Media
Sometimes social media can make us feel more alone and isolated, but now is a good time to connect with people in different ways. Lots of people around the world are connecting on Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook Live to share their talents and teach each other new skills. Try following the hashtag #TogetherAtHome (@glblctzn) to stay connected with your favorite musicians bringing you “live” music as we navigate this pandemic together.
Get Outside & Practice Mindful Movement
Endorphins, our ‘feel-good’ hormones, get produced when we practice mindful movement, and we could all benefit from a pick-me-up right about now. If you can, get outdoors for a few moments each day. Soak up some Vitamin D and get some fresh air. If you can’t spend time outside, try some stretches at home or follow a workout on YouTube, any movement helps!
Be the Kind of Friend You Wish to See in the World
Reach out to the people in your life; ask them how they’re feeling and share your own experience if you feel safe to do so. Maybe try going through your contact list and spreading some hope by giving out some compliments or telling people why you’re thankful for them. You can learn more about how to be a good friend at Youth Empowerment.com, MHA’s Screening to Supports, and the Seize the Awkward Campaign.
Try to Stay in the Now
If you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster that only goes up and your anxiety is just compounding – try to bring yourself back to the present moment and focus on what is happening right now. Tune into your senses. Ask yourself what you see, smell, taste, feel, and hear, and notice how your body starts to ground itself. For other coping methods to keep you present, check out our article on Developing Coping Strategies.
Engaging in mindfulness activities like this one can help you feel centered in times of instability. There are lots of free mindfulness and meditation apps you can download, we love Headspace and Insight Timer to name a couple.
Get Support Online!
Feeling isolated and in need of community? Participate in forums on Reddit, Facebook groups, or join Youth Era on Discord and Twitch and connect with a Youth Peer Support Specialist (YPSS) today! These platforms provide safe, supportive, and anonymous spaces where you can chat with other young people and receive support.
You can also browse our list of crisis lines if you feel like you’re unable to stay safe through this pandemic.
If you’re feeling like this is all too much…
We get it – we’ve been there. We’ve all lived through really hard times, and together we’ll get through the uncertain and life-altering experience that is COVID-19. Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 to assist (Text HELLO to 741741) or text teen2teen to 839863 to chat with other young people from 4-10 pm PST. And of course, you can reach the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. To learn more about what to expect when calling a helpline, check out this article.
If it’s available to you, consider seeing your Primary Care Provider or mental health professional for extra help, and check out reddit.com/alcoholicsanonymous for online support forums as applicable. Above all else, remember you are not alone, we are all in this together, and try to see the world through a lens of gratitude whenever you can.
About Youth Era
Youth Era is a nonprofit that works with teens and young adults to become happy, successful, and contributing adults members of their communities. The organization creates solutions for communities across the country that look beyond short-term assistance for the few and toward sustainable support for the many. To learn more, visit www.youthera.org.