“We are all in this together!”
Or so say influencers on every social media platform. But nowadays, some of us feel lonelier than ever. The news is completely taken over by stories of coronavirus and stock market data. The world appears to be collapsing in on itself.
“When all of this first began I was really concerned and honestly terrified,” said Desert Mountain Keerthi Reddy (10).
Another student reported being “scared of uncertainty right now.”
“I had no idea that the last day of school before spring break was going to be the last day of my sophomore year,” said the name of the student, whose name also was withheld for privacy.
Many students are experiencing anxiety during this period of turmoil and change. Even with our copious methods to communicate, many students still feel lonely.
“I really hate how I can’t pick up the phone and call anyone. I’ve just never been that close with other people,” said the sophomore.
Students all over the United States are now doing school online as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“These are strange times we are living in. If you are lonely, stressed, overwhelmed, whatever the case may be, please make sure you are talking to someone,” said Alesha Davis, a DM counselor at Desert Mountain High School.
Parents said communication often is easier said than spoken.
“People think that we act frazzled, I think, when we’re stressed. Sometimes we bury it and we look perfectly fine and we walk around like we’re fine, but you’re killing yourself, literally,” said DM parent Meredith Chen.
But counselors said that a major misconception about stress “is that it’s ‘bad’,” said Paige Phelps, DM’s prevention coach.
“Stress is our body’s way of informing us that we need to pay attention to our thoughts in order to make necessary changes to bring our body and mind back into balance and harmony,” Phelps said.
With so many people on either social media or in life who are acting like everything is okay, students can very easily feel as if they are the only ones who are stressed. Everyone shows and deals with stress differently, but communication can help bridge the gap.
Communication, counselors said, in this time is crucial to understanding that we are not alone–and are all feeling some amount of stress during this time.
Parents said communicating with someone about feelings is not wrong and “the more we talk about it, the more we’ll realize other people feel the same thing.”
“We’re not in this alone and we can validate these feelings,” Chen said.
Managing mental health while we are quarantined is important and talking about stress is only one strategy. The Scottsdale Unified School District offers these other tips:
Limiting news intake.
Connecting with friends and family using a video chat.
Taking frequent breaks away from work spaces.
Journaling and acknowledging the positives in life.
Phelps said positivity is especially important now.
“We have control over our stress, anxiety and feelings of loneliness,” Phelps said. “Our thoughts dictate how we feel and we can change the way we think about things.”
If anything, students should focus on what they can control.
“Use this as an opportunity to learn and grow from our circumstances,” Phelps said, “which naturally reduces our stress, anxiety and feelings of loneliness.”
Added Chen: “It’s important to remember this time as a time of growing and learning that stress is okay as long as you don’t let it overcome you or overwhelm you.”
Parents said even in isolation, people aren’t alone.
“Stress stems from different places for everyone. It could be that your kids are younger, in elementary school, and you don’t know how to do their schoolwork anymore and it’s stressing you out because you don’t have all the answers,” Chen said. “It may be, like me, you don’t have money coming in, but you still have a job, you’re trying to file for unemployment and look for other positions, and you’re not getting hired at those.
“That stresses you out a little bit.”
Whether the lack of employment for adults or the lack of social time for teens, the end result is the same.
“But we’re all feeling something different now,” Chen said. “Whether we’re masking it, whether we’re actually allowing ourselves to feel it or not.”