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Teenage Mental Health and Covid-19

Being a teenager is hard enough. But how do you cope when school is closed, you can't see your friends, and your parents are around ALL the time?
First published by OCD & Anxiety Support Hong Kong
By Katrina Rozga, CCC MC (Psych)

It can be hard being a teenager under normal circumstances. But being a teenager during the Coronavirus outbreak can be extra stressful.

Social distancing, missing your friends and important moments of teenage life, school closures, and uncertainty about exams and university applications are all sources of real stress. All of these things can leave you feeling sad, anxious, isolated and maybe even depressed.

These feelings are totally normal. Who wouldn’t miss their friends and their regular life? The important thing is that you can cope with these feelings so you don’t become mentally unwell. Here’s how.

Good Days and Bad Days and That’s Okay

You may be feeling a lot of different emotions and may not be sure how to deal with them. Again, it’s normal to feel scared, helpless and like you are on an emotional rollercoaster. Being excessively bored can also be hard to handle.

So, how do you manage all these feelings in ways that don’t include fighting with your family, refusing to do home school assignments, hiding in your room, spending way too much time playing online games, or other unhelpful strategies?

The very first step is acknowledging your feelings. You are allowed to feel this way! Once you’ve felt your distress and anxiety, take whatever steps you can to cope with them in a manner that works for you.

Check In and Connect

Guaranteed, most of your friends are feeling the exact same way. Don’t let yourself become socially isolated. Make sure to maintain contact and interact with your friends and classmates online.

Do homework assignments in tandem, catch up on news, and just be together. With options such as Zoom, Netflix Watch parties and a million other options, continue to be social and plan fun things to do just like you would any other time.

If you have not heard from some of your friends in a while, check in on them. Maybe they are having a hard time, and need to hear from a friend.

Go Outside

Abiding by social distancing rules, get outside and breathe some fresh air. One of the benefits of the outbreak is less pollution, so take advantage and get outside wherever possible to take a walk and get some vitamin D. Staying indoors all day every day can drive anyone crazy, so give your brain a boost with some different scenery and exercise.

Try Something New

This may be a good time to do that thing you’ve been thinking about for a long time. Want to learn the guitar, to sew, how to code, practice your yoga poses, or how to crochet? Now is the time. You have time on your hands so make a schedule and get started!

Try a bit of everything as it will help keep your mind active and interested – in other words, not bored.

Accept What You Can Not Control

One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to learn to let go of the things that are outside your control. This outbreak is definitely one of those things.

Focus on what you can control: your thoughts, your emotions, your behaviours, and your reactions. These are things you can influence.

Everything outside of that you need to let be. Eventually this will pass and you’ll be back to life as usual, but for now, we must keep ourselves and others safe.

Still Anxious? Join a group

The good news is that once this all passes, the OCD & Anxiety Support Hong Kong will be starting a Teen OCD and Anxiety Support in September. It is a group so we can all get together and support each other. So watch this space for further announcements about that group and in the meantime put yourself and your mental health first!