Your classes may now be virtual. You may now be at home, where you’re missing friends and finding studying difficult. Or maybe you’ve stayed put and you worry about your family. Perhaps you’re juggling many things as well as your own needs. You might have lost a job, if you are old enough to have one, or a family member has lost their job. As a student, you’re probably feeling anxious, sad and uncertain. These feelings are normal. And there are ways to lessen your stress.
Basic self-care will keep your body’s immune system strong and your emotional health strong. Get enough sleep. Exercise regularly. Eat well by choosing healthy foods. Try mindfulness apps.
Find activities that involve different parts of yourself. Do something physical like dancing. Occupy your mind with puzzles. Engage your senses with healthy activities (pretend you are seeing a nearby tree for the first time). Look for things you can put off or simply remove from your to-do list.
Find ways to focus
You might feel unmotivated now. Recognize that the current situations are hard for everyone. Don’t judge yourself; just do the best you can.
Establish a routine. Get up, go to bed and do your work at the same time every day. Frequent breaks can help you re-connect in your school work.
Try to create a separate space to work, although you should keep your sleeping area for sleeping, if at all possible. If family members are distracting you, use “I statements” to explain the problem — “I’m worried about my tests next week” — and work together to come up with solutions.
Seek out people support (parents, helpful adults, positive friends)
Your classmates have scattered, and having to stay home can be lonely. To combat loneliness, come together with your schoolmates via technology, but don’t let it interfere with school work.
Even something as simple as turning on your webcam can help you and others feel more connected. (But follow the rules your teachers have set.)
Help others cope
Your classmates and family members are anxious, too. You don’t (and shouldn’t) have to fix their problems. It’s enough to let them know they’re not alone.
If you’re helping younger brothers or sisters manage the same stress that you’re facing yourself, be sure to address your own needs separately. Ask your school counselor and others for help.
Find ways to manage disappointment
Important events, like a graduation, may not happen this year. It’s okay to grieve, even cry, over those losses, then explore how you think about these life events. Think about how you can honor what you’ve accomplished. Find new healthy ways to celebrate. Consider a re-do of important events once it’s safe.
Limit your media intake (TV, Internet, social media)
Of course, it’s good to stay informed, especially about what’s happening in your area. But too much news — especially social media — can add to your stress. To avoid being overwhelmed, set limits on your media input and smartphone use. Cut through misinformation by relying on reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization.
Focus on things you can control
Your classmates, friends or family members may be disobeying the rules about physical distancing or doing other things that add to your stress. While showing good behavior and staying safe yourself, recognize that you can’t control what other people do. You can only control your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Another thing you can’t control? The uncertainty about what comes next. Instead of worrying about our future, focus on solving today’s problems today.
Based on information from (adapted for public education): https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/student-stress