How to manage anxiety symptoms during coronavirus: a guide for teens and young adults

By Ashley Hart

The past 12 months have been wildly different from years past. At times, it may feel like the coronavirus pandemic has changed how we do everything. Social gatherings are different (or non-existent), education is virtual, everyone is masked, and anxiety and depression are on the rise (CDC, 2020). It’s important to normalize the feelings of grief that may show up as we think about the way our lives used to be.  If you find yourself or a loved one having a hard time managing the long term anxiety or depression surrounding COVID-19, there are many coping skills you can utilize to make life easier. 

  • Interact with friends from a distance. It may be difficult to be away from friends, and too much time alone can make you feel down in the dumps. Luckily, technology is here to save the day—text messages, FaceTime, Skype, and social media make it easier to stay connected. Try scheduling a certain time of the day or week to get together virtually with friends or family that you don’t get to see often. Keep things new and fresh with Houseparty, a fun app available to download on Android and iOS that allows you to play games with friends on a video chat platform. The best part: it’s free! 
  • Stick to a schedule. Having things planned for the day increases motivation to get out of bed. Schedule study time, sleep, social time, meals, personal hygiene activities, exercise, down time, game time, or family time. Extra points if you write them down in a planner, notebook, or in your phone!
  • Find new ways to wind down and relax. Deep breathing, yoga, simple stretches, and meditation are all relaxing options to release tension in your body and in your mind. Some of the videos below are a strong start: 
  • Open your curtains! Letting sunlight in, or better yet, getting outside, has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression (National Council for Behavioral Health, 2020).
  • Limit or monitor news consumption. Sometimes the news is helpful to keep up with what’s going on in the world. Other times, we can be over exposed to COVID-19 related news which can trigger feelings of worry. Try listening to music, watching your favorite TV show, listening to a new podcast, playing video games, or reading instead. If you just have to have news, try the Good News Network
  • Move your body. When you have nervous energy and you just can’t seem to relax, sometimes the best way to manage it is to do some aerobic exercise. Walking, jogging, dancing, playing with your pet, or playing outdoor games with your friends are ways to relieve that jittery energy. Don’t be afraid to access that inner child!
  • Stay away from alcohol and drugs. These can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression. 
  • Treat yourself with kindness and love. How would you treat a loved one who was feeling stressed, worried, or depressed? Treat yourself with the same respect and care. You deserve it.
  • Find the patterns. Are there people or situations that consistently make you feel worried or stressed? If so, utilize deep breathing skills to lower anxiety in the moment, take note of the current situation, then talk to a trusted friend or family member about your experiences. Sharing how you feel or what you’re thinking keeps you from bottling up too much worry.
  • See a therapist: It’s normal to feel worried or fearful during stressful situations, but if the feelings of anxiety and/or depression are affecting your daily life and making it hard to do your usual day-to-day tasks, it may be time to ask for help. Seeing a therapist can improve your mental wellbeing, improve your personal relationships, and help you practice healthy self-reflection and awareness.  

Coronavirus has changed many aspects of our lives and at times it feels impossible to escape negative feelings. Remember that you are allowed to feel anxiety, nervousness, grief, and sadness. Taking care of our bodies and minds is essential. Try out some of the ideas above or find the coping skill that works best for you and use it. We are all rooting for you, your health, and your happiness!

 

CDC. (2020, December 30). Support for teens and young adults. Retrieved February 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/cover/daily-life-coping

National Council for Behavioral health. (2020, April, 08). How to care for yourself while practicing physical distancing. Retrieved February, 2021, from https://www.mental health firsthand.org/2020/03/how-to-care-for-yourself-while-practicing-physical distancing/.

 

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