On March 11, 2020 the disease that had been disregarded by many, COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Two days later, on March 13, 2020 a national emergency was declared in the United States concerning the COVID-19 Outbreak. I remember this day clearly….I was at a local park with my friends having a picnic, playing soccer and planning our spring break. At the time, no one knew that our spring break would be virtually cancelled. All around, kids were grabbing food from the same place, hugging each other and sitting nearby laughing without a care in the world. COVID-19 was a faraway malady that wasn’t really taken seriously.
Fast forward about a month, and I hadn’t seen any of my friends at that picnic since it happened. In fact, I hadn’t really been anywhere other than the occasional trip to the grocery store, that too, with masks, social distancing, and abundant hand sanitizer. Our original spring break plans of going to visit family in India had been cancelled, and the time at home was becoming more and more mundane.
Adults have been affected by this pandemic in numerous ways. Over 40 million people in the United States have lost their jobs, while 160,000 people have lost their lives. It is a devastating situation to varying degrees for each family, but everyone is affected by this virus in some way. This includes teenagers.
If you ask me, most teens have not been affected too greatly by COVID-19, especially when comparing them to those who are older than them. However, that doesn’t mean that teens’ lives have not been changed. Some have lost family members to the illness and most have had to put a pause on their education and social lives. And yes, while it is comforting to know that all your friends are in the same boat, it still doesn’t mean that anyone knows how to deal with this difficult time. With schools being closed, plans being cancelled, and teens being homebound, it is becoming increasingly difficult to cope with the effects of COVID-19, especially as many are choosing to not return to schools for the safety of themselves and others. I am just like you, confused on how to adapt to the “new normal” and working to figure it out. Nevertheless, I can compose a few ways for teens (and adults) to survive COVID-19 and the tiresome circumstances that follow.
The majority of teens have experienced let downs again and again these last few months. Birthday parties are being cancelled, travel plans put on hold, even the slight excitement that comes with back-to-school time has been dulled down. The best we can do in these times, is to look at the positives and try to make necessary changes to our lives that will uplift us.
When quarantine first began, I was upset. It meant that we couldn’t go on vacation, I couldn’t see my friends, we couldn’t even go out for a nice family dinner. Yet, as time went on, I came to the realization that the more time I spent sitting around being upset about it, the more time I was wasting. Take this time to realize what you have around you. Sure, maybe you can’t go on that vacation you had planned but, instead of looking at it bitterly, use it as an opportunity to explore what’s around you. Whenever my family has time off, we usually hop on a flight and fly half way across the world. In the case where this wasn’t possible, we were forced to explore things we never even knew about. Hidden beaches, art museums, and tourist attractions in our own town often went noticed. Utilize this time to take a look around and see what’s right in front of you. Go to that art gallery you’ve wanted to see a few miles from your house, or a park which you’ve never been to (safely of course). Each place in the world has something unique to offer, and people probably travel from other parts of the world to come to your home. Become a tourist in your own city and find out what you were missing out on.
Another big aspect that has been cut from teens life to the COVID-19 quarantine is socialization. Truthfully, there is no way to make this peachy. Not being able to see your friends isn’t fun, and since I am more of a real-world girl, no amount of Facetime or texting makes up for being face to face with a friend. But, as I said, being upset about something only makes it worse. Take what you can get. For me, I did virtually connect with my friends from time to time, and if that’s what works for you then keep going with it. Although I did enjoy it, I also knew that I normally spent eight to ten hours a day with my friends because school along with swim team. Maybe, this was the perfect time to connect with both my family and myself. I found it rejuvenating to fit in a few extra movie-nights with my parents and be able to walk my dog for some time to think. The world slowed down a little bit, and I noticed that I actually enjoyed it. Along with finding another way to turn around this situation, take time to realize how technology is fitting into your life and making it easier. I could still have weekly music lessons over zoom, and continue my education online. If anything, we are lucky that this pandemic came at a time where everything is already so virtualized. Practice gratitude and find the small glimmers of light in the dark times. Being able to sleep in for another hour, hearing a relatives voice on the phone, making a dinner for your stressed parents, being able to try your hand at something new. And, when you finally do get to see your friends again, you may find it to be extra special.
Coping with COVID-19 is not easy by any means. There is a constant fear of the unknown and it’s becomes overwhelming to have to navigate a different way of living. For most of the teens I know, we are lucky to have friends and family looking out for us. Sure, right now it’s boring and annoying to stay home. However, for now, using your time wisely, changing your mindset, and learning to handle stress will make all the difference.
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”-Albert Einstein
Happy Living ❤
Check out my post on Mental Health in Teens if you feel like social isolation has had an impact on your mental health.
Featured image by @unitednations at unsplash.com