The year is 2021, yet we are still facing disruptions from the 2019 coronavirus pandemic. For some of us, myself included, our lives have not changed as drastically. Teens in particular have had major disruptions to their lives and routines. Because of their stage of development, teens have had a harder time adjusting to the changes in their lives than children and adults.
The teens I have worked with through the past year have lost contact with certain peers and were unable to participate in the activities that used to bring them joy. And to top it all off, they might be forced to spend too much time with their parents and siblings in close quarters while trying to maintain independence.
If your teen is going through waves of moodiness or instability, they might be experiencing what I call COVID-19 blues. Even the most resourceful teen could have challenges from time to time given that they have been adjusting to multiple changes for a prolonged period of time. So how do we help our teens keep their mental health in check while riding through this wave of blues? I recommend parents help their teens learn how to do a self-assessment of their emotions. Help your teen reflect on the precursors that contributed to their low mood, what they have attempted to manage their mood, and to continuously explore what parts of their life have been impacted by the pandemic. Self-care can be broken down into different parts: physical, social, spiritual, and academic/professional. Assessing each of these areas intentionally can help identify a particular aspect of their life that has been forgotten or not paid any attention. Additionally, we can often forget to do the simplest activities that used to be a part of our pre-pandemic routine. It can be helpful to keep up with routines such as:
- Socializing with friends if in-person activities are not an option (when was the last time they reached out to a friend?)
- Maintaining physical activity since virtual schooling does not give as much opportunities to expend the same energy level
- Keeping a consistent sleep schedule
Feeling worried, sad, stressed, or irritable are all normal responses to a crisis like this pandemic. And it’s also natural to have these emotions come in waves despite having a year to “adjust”. Help your teen commit to taking a daily or weekly self-assessment and work towards finding strategies to improve their mood. Journaling apps such as Daylio can also be helpful in motivating your teen to log their moods and activities. If you have any concerns for their well-being, it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional.
If you would like to speak about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy, call 858-522-9415 for a free consultation today!