Everyone’s tired of hearing it: stay at home. Something that seems so simple, but getting harder and harder to urge young adults to continue to do. We’ve been in quarantine for months, haven’t seen many of our friends, and are running out of things to do besides online schoolwork. This lack of social interaction teenagers everywhere are experiencing is detrimental to mental health, and can be even worse for people with pre-existing conditions of things like anxiety and depression. With all of this, there are still some ways to help yourself de-stress, stay occupied, and try to feel a little better during these stressful and unknowing times.
What day is it today? At first, whenever I heard about how “keeping a routine” was beneficial during quarantine, I just nodded my head and continued waking up and going to bed at the same unhealthy times that were starting to become normal. However, maybe Mr. Mastrangelo’s emails were right. Starting a routine and waking up / going to sleep at a similar time every night can help to keep this quarantine from feeling like an illusion, and prevent the days from blending together. Routines also help us know what to expect, which can make it easier to “actively work towards counteracting the thoughts and symptoms of... mental health conditions” (according to Psychology Today). Doing simple things like opening your shades and making your bed every day can help as well, and you’d be surprised how much better this can make you feel.
Since most of our time is just being spent around the house, it can be easy to forget to keep up with personal hygiene. So this is your reminder: Take a shower, wash your face, brush your teeth, etc.. Being and feeling clean is so important for your overall health and needs to be kept up with, even if you aren’t leaving the house. Don’t forget to stay hydrated too- if you haven’t drank any water today, stop reading this and drink some water!!!
Something I’ve personally found that makes me feel a lot happier is putting on an outfit I really like. On top of our certain state of social isolation, walking around in the same sweatpants for five days can make you forget about feeling good about yourself. I’m not saying don’t wear sweatpants (anyone who knows me knows that’s what I live in), but maybe put on a clean pair once in a while. There’s also been a lot of talk on the internet lately about “getting dressed like you normally would for school on the weekdays” because it supposedly makes you more productive. This may work for some people, others might want to be more comfortable. Maybe now is the time to try on some new things or change your style. Whatever it is, put on something clean and comfortable that you also feel good in- I promise, you’ll feel a lot happier.
Getting some type of physical activity is critical for your overall well-being. This is one of the most known ways to release stress and anxiety, as well as to help you stay healthy. There have been a lot of “14-day quarantine workout” type videos and suggested daily exercises on YouTube and other platforms, and now there’s time to actually do these without school taking up so much time. If doing a full workout isn’t your thing, even something as simple as stretching every day is more beneficial than you’d think. Also keep in mind that although we still need to wear masks, COVID-19 isn’t preventing anyone from going outside. Get some fresh air, or go take a walk.
Focusing On The Things You Love
Focusing on the things you like to do can be entertaining, relaxing, distracting, or whatever you want it to be. Drawing, making playlists on Spotify, baking or cooking, running over drills for a sport you play, re-designing your room, playing an instrument or video games, whatever it may be- do something you enjoy. And if you don’t have a specific hobby, why not take one up? Although this “break” is definitely an opportunity to chill and do these things, you shouldn’t stress about being super productive either. Nobody is forcing you to learn two new languages and teach yourself to play guitar- we are in the middle of a pandemic, so give yourself a break. Do things at your own pace, and take it one step at a time.
Staying In Touch
Last but definitely not least, staying in touch with others is the most important thing you can do for your mental health during these times. Teenagers are built to be social, and isolating yourself can cause a decline in mental health. According to Matthew Lieberman, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at UCLA, this need to be social is the reason why many young adults continuously interact though “social media, iPhones and gossip, as well as why people are interested in watching others' social interactions on soap operas and reality television”. So keep texting, calling, or Facetiming your friends. Along with this, there’s also a lot of services being offered to encourage socialization like Netflix Party or Spotify Group Sessions. These two specific services are very similar, and allow you to watch shows on Netflix or listen to music on Spotify at the same time as your friends. Of course, take some time on social media as well, but try to not spend seven hours a day scrolling through TikTok.
Remember, it’s all going to be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end, and this pandemic will eventually be over (even though it seems like we’ve been in quarantine for years). We will eventually get through this and go back to the real world, so take care of yourselves 🙂