The Covid-19 pandemic introduced new concepts for people around the globe: quarantine, stay-at-home orders, remote learning, virtual events, drive-by birthday celebrations, and the list goes on! With all of the effects of a global pandemic also comes an increased risk to people’s mental health, especially for teens.

A recent New York Times article, “Teens in Covid Isolation: ‘I Felt Like I Was Suffocating,’” outlines the increased anxiety and depression among adolescents and offers creative tips for coping with this unprecedented time. One such strategy suggested writing a letter to someone or something the teen is grieving – a person they are missing or an event, like a trip that was cancelled or a senior prom. At times, life right now feels stagnant, lonely, and out of our control, which is hitting teens harder than any other group.

However, some teens have been able to make the most of their lightened schedule from extracurriculars being cancelled, as discussed in another NYT article, “The Exquisite Angst of Applying to College in a Deeply Anxious Year.” One student, Cole Strachan, filled his time “by starting a group called A Helping Elbow with friends and classmates, delivering groceries to older people or those with compromised immune systems,” while others made PPE equipment or offered virtual tutoring services.

Here are Collegiate Gateway’s tips for helping teens cope with the isolation that comes with Covid-19:

#1. Keep a journal. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to reflect on what you accomplished and what was challenging. There are so many benefits to journal-keeping: strengthening your writing and organizational skills, exploring your own thoughts, improving your self-awareness. Note that the world we are living in right now is a moment in history. This is an opportunity to remember who you were and what effect this surreal time had on you.

#2. Connect with friends and family. During times of isolation, it’s even more important to connect with people you value, share your hopes and fears, and laugh in the face of adversity. Think creatively outside your normal circle of friends and family. Perhaps there are people you’ve always felt a connection to, but whose friendship you never made the time to pursue.

#3. Organize outdoor gatherings. Try to make time for a nature walk or bike ride with people in your support system. Brainstorm ideas for how you can get together while maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask. Seeing people in person is so important to maintaining human connection. Sometimes Zoom just isn’t enough!

#4. Seek out a new skill or talent. Use this opportunity of more time at home to try something new. Sign up for a free course at your local library or community college, like sign language, cooking, or coding. Take a workshop on mindfulness strategies or see if a local studio is offering virtual yoga or exercise classes. Maybe you’ll want to volunteer at a new service opportunity in your community, such as the local fire department or food pantry.

#5. Create a healthy morning routine. Start your day with a walk or listen to calming music. Follow your school schedule and stay on top of your assignments. But it’s equally as important to turn off the computer and step away from the screen time when your school day is over. Make a point each day to get some fresh air, connect with the people you miss, and do something purely for enjoyment.

#6. Ask for help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, alone, or anxious, reach out to family members and friends, but know that there are also trained professionals ready to help within your school community or at the Crisis Text Line. Text HOME to 741741 to speak to someone immediately.

Life during a global pandemic is hard, but life as a teen during a global pandemic is even harder! Prioritize your mental health and human connections, and you’ll grow in ways you never imagined.

For more guidance, explore our upcoming presentations on our website or set up a complimentary consultation to learn about our consulting services. Whatever your question, Collegiate Gateway is happy to help!