Coping with Adolescent Anxiety During the Pandemic
Updated: Jul 24
As I wrote in my last blog post, Anxiety During the Pandemic, the coronavirus is continuing to cause a great deal of mental and emotional pain as it drags on without an end in sight. Students and young adults are undoubtedly dealing with higher levels of anxiety during this time and it is showing up in bouts of anger, depression, worry, and/or numbing out.
Reflecting back, my greatest source of anxiety throughout high school and college typically included finding an attractive female and somehow getting her to foolishly think that I was worth her time and attention. Every time I wanted to get to know a girl, however, my palms got sweaty, I didn’t know how to talk to her, and I pretty much stumbled over myself. Yeah…the relationship thing didn’t go so well for me. I was far more “dorky” than “dreamy” during adolescence, which, according to American Academy of Pediatrics, ranges from 11-21 years of age. This is still true today, by the way. I never grew out of it – still dorky.
Students finished up high school and college without the graduation experience that they had been dreaming of, missing out on many celebrations and parties. They have been asked to suspend much of their social life, forced to forego trips and activities with their friends due to the coronavirus pandemic. Maybe they had to give up their summer job. Or favorite family vacations. And there is added stress in not knowing what school is going to look like in the upcoming fall. Young people are also aware of the stress that their parents are feeling, as well.
Students have been asked to give up so much and there is a lot of volatility that goes beyond just the health crisis. The social and political unrest of the country, anxiety about the environment and global warming issues, international and domestic terrorism, the economy, future job opportunities, etc. This is on top of what would be considered the “normal” or “average” stress of the student and young adult life, which includes the heavy use of social media.
I mean…this might be just a smidge more anxiety-inducing phenomena than the failed relationship status I experienced in my years of high school and college. Maybe….
And if you are dealing with some extra anxiety during this pandemic, you should know that you are not alone. Many of us are. And you will make it past this. But we all need some help, so here are a few things you might be able to try to assist in calming those nerves:
· Drink less caffeine. Yup. I said it. You don’t have to go cold turkey (though you could try!), but you probably should lay off of that second, third, and fourth espresso. One cup of coffee a day will do you well. And maybe don’t drink it after 12pm. That will mess with your sleep. Okay…you’ve stopped reading now, haven’t you? Wait…I’ve got some more simple ideas that may help you! Keep reading below!
· Make healthy food choices. I’m a stress eater…and it usually comes in the form of a huge bowl of ice cream. Or three. But you got to throw out those hot Cheetos and substitute it with a handful of nuts, blueberries, avocados, and fish. Nutrition plays a big role not just in our physical health, but in our mental and emotional health, as well. And this isn’t about shaming anyone. I’m not trying to make you feel bad about what you are eating. It’s about alleviating the extra anxiety and stress that we’re feeling.
· Sleep and exercise more. Don’t sleep too much. Just the 8-9 hours at night should suffice. And safely get outside and exercise. Running, hiking, walking, bike riding, playing with the dog (if you don’t have a dog, politely steal your neighbor’s dog). Just get out.
· Drop the electronics…unless you’re really socializing with friends or family. Make sure to keep up with your relationships. That’s important. You’ll just want to manage your consumption of media and video games. It’s just not gonna help much with what is causing you anxiety.
· Meditate. I’m going to ask you to ignore that last paragraph. Sort of. There are some excellent meditation apps out there right now, and meditation and other mindfulness practices can help you out a ton with anxiety. Some examples of helpful mediation apps would be Simple Habit, Calm, Headspace, and My Life. You can adjust length of time, choose a topic, and receive accountability. A little daily meditation really does make a difference in helping with feelings of anxiety.
Of course, there is much more you can do. If you do not have one already, schedule an appointment with a counselor or therapist. They will provide you with more tools that will help you take control and relieve your anxiety during this pandemic. You are not in this alone.
Wellspace Counseling practices in Tualatin, Oregon and serves Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and the Greater Portland Metro Area. To find more information about Wellspace Counseling, visit the at www.wellspacepdx.com.