“Do you think we’ll still have prom?” Life in the COVID-19 pandemic
I was hiking one weekend when I overheard a group of 4 teen girls talking about COVID-19 and prom. One of them asked, “do you think we’ll still have prom?” The others hesitantly chimed in, attempting to reassure their friend and themselves that things would be back to normal in no time. It was then that I realized how much students are impacted by this pandemic. There is so much uncertainty at this time, which can pose a challenge to their mental health.
A Letter To Students:
Students, how are you doing? You’re tackling the doubt of what will happen with school, dealing with the loss of long-awaited events like prom and graduation, and facing heightened amounts of anxiety on top of the usual school-related stress.
Being at home may have complicated your situation even more. Maybe your parents are asking you to babysit siblings while you’re supposed to be in class online, or piling on extra chores since they see you with “more free time.” You may be feeling unmotivated as you try to figure out new learning platforms and are away from your normal social network. It may feel like time is dragging on as the list of allowable activities dwindles.
As a student myself, (at ASU) I feel your pain! But this doesn’t have to be a negative time. It can be a beautiful time in which we give ourselves permission to do the things we need to catch up on or start for the first time.
Here’s what you can do to make the best of your time in quarantine
· Establish a routine
The COVID-19 quarantine may feel like an extended spring break, but the longer you stray from that normal routine, the tougher it will be to go back. Get to bed at a decent time, prepare lunch as if you were taking it to school, and dedicate specific time to do school-related work as if things were like any normal week. Maybe you need to set up an office space to optimize your learning. Find what works best for you and stick to it.
· Try something new
Find activities or goals to motivate you. Bake that pie. Learn to crochet. Draw a landscape. Practice that Tik Tok dance. You don’t need to come out of this being an expert, but you will have a set of new coping skills and experiences to tell your friends about.
· Catch up
Now is the perfect time to organize that overflowing drawer, go through unwanted clothes, put together the gadget that has been gathering dust in the closet. Maybe you have late assignments to turn in or you want to get ahead. Use this spare time to be productive.
· Check in with yourself and others
Share your thoughts and feelings with a teacher, trusted adult, or mental health professional if needed. If you’re feeling discouraged, you’re probably not alone. Call up friends that you would typically see during the week. Message loved-ones that you are thinking about. Write a letter to relatives far away. These check-ins can make a world of difference in someone’s day.
· Stay positive and be kind.
This is not me telling you not to feel the way you do. Think of it as a goal to set for yourself. I recognize that it’s not the easiest task, but it’s possible that someone’s anger/panic/fear/anxiety is being misplaced at you and may demonstrate how they’re experiencing the current situation. Do your best to be mindful that everyone is having their own experience with COVID-19 and are likely grieving their own family, friends, upcoming events, or lifestyle.
With many things falling outside of your control right now, monitoring your outlook can be one thing you can control.
Megan Celestina works with teens and adults at Elevate while completing her Master of Counseling degree at ASU. She is excited to lead our QuaranTEENed groups for middle school and high school students at Elevate and is passionate about empowering others to recognize their strengths and abilities. Megan sees reason, humor, support, and creativity as essential tools towards personal growth. To connect with Megan for more support, contact Elevate here.