“I worry that the kids will get a double wallop (of stress).” This is a quote from an article in Time Magazine by Ezra Golberstein; a health-policy researcher at the University of Minnesota. “There’s the disease itself and the fear of it. On top of that, you’ve got the lock-downs, with kids removed from the school environment and their friends.” During this pandemic, many young people started feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and insecure. Thankfully, this is being addressed by trained professionals. I decided to give some extra tips on how to keep your mental health safe. I hope they come in handy!

1.?Keep yourself “real” busy
Put the phone down. Avoid picking up your phone and scrolling away on Insta until you fall asleep at 2 a.m. If you think your parents are “annoying” or “unfair” regarding screen time, they have a point that can be backed up by research (high-five, moms and dads!). According to an article written by Rick Nauert, “San Diego State University psychologist Dr. Jean Twenge and University of Georgia psychology professor Dr. W. Keith Campbell discovered that after only one hour of screen time daily, children and teens might begin to have less curiosity, lower self-control, less emotional stability and a greater inability to finish tasks.”
Start a hobby! The possibilities are endless: for instance, I picked up Rainbow Looming again, but I’m also learning how to play both the piano and the
violin. Drawing is another one that I’ve been doing a lot of lately. What would you like to spend more time on?

2.?Practice/improve life skills
This one is great! Try washing your clothes, prepa-
ring your meals, and cleaning your room without anyone telling you to do so beforehand. Don’t he-
sitate to ask a parent or sibling for help. Incorporate life skills into your daily schedule, and try to keep a positive attitude while doing them. After all, you are learning how to become more and more independent!

3.?Check your playlist
How does the music on your playlist make you feel? I’m not telling you to do a whole music makeover, but I recommend listening to songs that make you feel happy and positive. It doesn’t even have to be a specific genre! Techno, country, electro-pop, classical, anything. As long as you’re enjoying it, you’re on the right track.

4.?Keep a journal
Writing in a journal is a good way to vent about certain things that may have happened during the day. Keep it and reread your thoughts and experiences after the pandemic. That way, you’ll be able to reflect on how you managed during this historical time.

5.?Get some exercise
Simple activities like aerobics and jogging will do. Create an exercise plan that fits best into your regular schedule. Not only does this benefit your mental health, but it also helps your physical health!

6.?Enjoy some sunshine
You can enjoy the sun in many ways: sunbathe on a towel in your yard, or go to the beach. It can also make for a great family outing! Don’t forget the sunscreen.

7.?Check on your friends and schoolmates.
Remember: they’re going through this pandemic too. Try to text or call and make sure to cheer each other up. Organize virtual parties and maybe meet up at a location where everyone can practice social distance.

8.?Volunteer or help someone out if you can
If you’re able, try helping someone else in any way you can. I’ve been buying groceries for my grandmother to ensure that she doesn’t have to go out of her house. Donate old uniforms that are in good shape, or create a “food package” for those who require them. That way, you’ll be helping people in our community regardless of the pandemic.

To finalize, I have two tips for parents reading this article:
9.?Talk and listen to your kids more often
Teenagers, especially in this pandemic, have a strong urge to listen and be listened too. Make yourself available as much as possible for them, and if they’re telling you a story, do NOT try to interrupt.
Have conversations throughout the day, and give room to express emotions. Eventually, you’ll see that your kid(s) will come up to you more often.

10.?Don’t hide from your kids
As I said, kids are feeling lonelier nowadays, so they don’t only need more communication; they need to feel the presence of another human being. Instead of scrolling through your phone or spending time away, watch a movie with them. Invite them to cook with you or hold family game nights. Just because you don’t go out as much doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun!

Do, however, respect their privacy. If your child(ren) needs a little time and space, don’t invade that. Kindly tell them that they can come to you or another parent-like figure when they’re ready to, and reassure them that they are loved.

Amanda Perla Britten

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