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What Happened to the High School Experience I was Expecting?

by
Doug Newton, MD, MPH
|
Jul 31, 2020

A global pandemic is a huge challenge for anyone, regardless of your resilience. Being in school during a global pandemic brings its own set of challenges. What are classes going to be like? How am I supposed to spend time with my friends? What if I don’t want to take classes virtually?

It’s okay to be thinking all of these things - actually, it’d be concerning if you weren’t! You are important and your high school experience is important. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, uneasy, or all of the above, we get it. The first step to tackling these feelings is recognizing them. Here’s some things to look out for.



Now that you know about the 3 A’s and 3 F’s, I bet you’re wondering: what am I supposed to do to with this information? If you recognize any of the above behaviors in yourself, here’s some tips for overcoming them.

Step 1: Managing your emotions

Normalize the situation and understand you are not alone.  

We all feel more isolated and lonely. Remind yourself that it’s normal to feel that way. Be vulnerable to your friends and family. Let them know you may also be scared some days.

Often anxiety and fear comes from feeling lack of control.

Focus on the few things that are in your complete control, instead of the millions of things that are not. Things like proper distancing, handwashing, wearing a mask in close public areas – these are positive steps you can make.

Distracting from what is not in our control.

There are many things out of our control, but how can we shift that focus? We don’t always need to redirect that focus to things in our control. Instead, it can be as simple as meeting a friend for social-distanced ice-cream, or setting up a family movie night.  


Step 2: Recognizing emotions in others

Show increased compassion.

Being mindful and respectful of others experiences and feelings. Now more than ever we can all show ourselves, our friends, family members, and neighbors a little more kindness and forgiveness than usual.

Compassion is more contagious than COVID-19.

Take a moment each day to ask other members in the family how they are feeling. Especially if you have younger siblings or grandparents. You may be surprised in their response.  


Step 3: Problem Solving

Stop the world” by taking a break in a heated situation.  

We all are a little more on edge these days. Start by everyone going to their respective corners in the fighting ring. If things with friends or family get heated, hit the pause button.

Identify and say what is the problem.

Harder than it sounds, right? Especially when there’s a brother or sister involved. Try to think from an outside perspective. How would a stranger view this situation, how would they identify the problem at hand?

Feeling connected to our communities and schools.

We all need a little more normalcy and connectedness in our lives.  Some great opportunities are online volunteering for charity, virtual math lessons, or attending any live online tutorial or webinar.

We hope these tips are helpful for you. Just remember, be kind to yourself! At the end of the day, you’re living through a pandemic and that’s pretty remarkable in and of itself.

Step 4: Ask for help

Always know that you are not alone.  If you’re ever feeling like you can’t handle the stressors associated with anxiety, reach out to a trusted adult or professional help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime of day or night at (800)-273-8255 or contact a Crisis Counselor through the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Are you interested in learning more about these topics? Check out these resources suggested by Dr. Doug Newton:






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