Updated: Dec 14, 2020
2020- BASED ON A TRUE STORY
Our phones mark 12:00. It’s the start of 2020. We hold our breath ready to begin the year on the right foot… but we stumble.
January was the month of Australian fires, a WWIII threat, the beginning of Trump’s impeachment trial, and Kobe and Gianna’s tragic deaths. If you didn’t remember some of that, I don’t blame you. 2020 has loaded us with life-changing events, it feels like there’s a jump scare at every corner.
In the months that followed, Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, entire nations were put in quarantine, and the economy plummeted. But it didn’t stop there–grocery stores were left with empty shelves as people started panic buying. Toilet paper became the new symbol of wealth. Our streets in LA, once swarming with tourists and shoppers, were left deserted as if we had entered a post-apocalyptic movie.
EFFECTS ON OUR MENTAL HEALTH
By now Coronavirus has been a trending google search for over 7 months and everyone has felt its effects in some way.
I recently interviewed a couple of Eagle Rock High School students and post-grads about the effects of quarantine on their mental health. Many of them expressed feelings of loneliness and increased amounts of stress.
“I feel like I need to see other people besides my family. More human interaction.” a senior said.
Similarly, staying indoors in summer was something not a lot of students imagined. An Eagle Rock alumni explained that “Not seeing people has definitely been really hard because you look forward to the summer when you have all your free time to hang out with your friends and that wasn’t available anymore.”
According to the CDC, stress often leads to intense worrying about our health, changes in sleeping patterns, difficulty concentrating, worsening of previous mental health conditions, and many other effects.
Dealing with these thoughts and feelings can become overwhelming which parents and students alike worry will reflect on report cards.
“I feel really uneasy about my success...honestly online [classes are] not working out too well,” said a recent postgraduate.
WHAT WE CAN DO
As students, it is important to learn to manage the stress from school and home life. Here are some healthy ways to cope:
Know what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19
Seek professional help from your doctor
Know where and how to get treatment and other support services and resources, including counseling or therapy
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting
Take care of your body:
Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
Get plenty of sleep
Make time to unwind
Try to reconnect with old hobbies or explore new ones
Connect with others.
Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Connect with your community or faith-based organizations
consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
DESPITE THE NEGATIVE
Although many students reported negative effects of quarantine, some reported that quarantine has also been a time for self-growth.
Most of the students I interviewed, described how they’ve found productive outlets: “I definitely feel like I've had a lot more time to focus on my physical health,” one student reported.
Whether it’s trying something new or bringing back old hobbies, it is recommended we take this time to learn.
One student shared that she began practicing cross stitching:
“My grandma taught me when I was younger so I called her and she explained it to me and then I started watching youtube videos.”
Another way we can form outlets is by disconnecting. "[I like] to create little bits of time where I don't have to worry,” reported a female student.
I understand juggling online classes, grades, and clubs is not as plausible in quarantine, but there are many ways we can maintain social relations.
An example of this is penpalling, which a student says “has allowed [them] to make more relationships...which has been really nice."
It is easy to feel overwhelmed but we have to remember that there are people who care about us. If you or someone you know feels the need to talk, don’t be afraid to reach out.
ERHS Psychiatrist Ms. Roman
(213) 724-5600 extension 1444
Teen Crisis Hotline