You would think that since everyone is forced to stay home, our mental health would improve. You don’t have the constant stress of waking up early, physically going to school or dealing with teachers and peers.
But mine is not better.
I found myself having emotional breakdowns daily and constantly complaining about being bored because I claimed I had “nothing to do.” The only way to possibly fix or relieve some of that stress and tension was to look at my phone. This small device seemed to have the basic information about me: my name, where I’m from, what music I like, the videos I gravitate to, everything. And I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
My Screen Time Averages Nine Hours a Day
Last week, my averaged screen time was up to nine hours and fifteen minutes a day. Yes, that long. How could someone be on their phone for that long? We’re now nearly two months into this COVID-19 quarantine situation and while I have adapted to being at home and not seeing my friends and family, social media is really the crux of connecting with other people. I would text my friends constantly, listen to music, and watch Netflix every day. Even now I am still doing that, but it has gotten worse.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the suggested ways to cope with stress during the time of this pandemic is to “take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.” Constantly seeing updates on this crisis can provoke stress. Every time I scrolled, there was something about the virus or about how people were dying or how many cases there are across the country and the world and that would annoy me. While all the news media wanted to do was make people aware, it was making me paranoid as well as stress unnecessarily.
“I Wasn’t Happy at All”
Instagram and TikTok were the two apps I was using the most, and it wasn’t surprising. Seeing friends and celebrities living their best lives (even during a time of crisis all over the world) made me happy, leading me to comment things like “go OFF” and “yessssssss” on people’s pictures and videos.
But after scrolling for hours and hours subconsciously, the likes and the mentions were really starting to get to my head. So much so that at one point, I noticed that five people unfollowed me and I felt like I didn’t have as many followers or views on my story like I wanted. I wasn’t myself. I would post happy pictures of me being silly when, in reality, I wasn’t happy at all.
Driving Myself Crazy
Asking myself if my friends were busy and feeling like a pest even though we were all going through the same thing didn’t make the situation a whole lot better. I found myself getting upset, angry and sad to the point of wanting to fidget and rearrange furniture. It was driving me crazy.
Even though we are still in cooped up in our homes, reality still hasn’t set in for me. I still can’t seem to figure out what day it is whenever I wake up. It took me a second to realize that something as serious as a virus going around would require everyone to stay home. I went from being extremely anxious and sad, to content and then, realizing this is actually happening, back to being sad.
I wish I could say things are looking up, but right now they are not. All I can say is that I hope they get better.
Tips to Improve Your Mental Health While Stuck Inside
Now, you are probably feeling like this in some shape or form, whether you’re repeatedly scrolling through your phone or playing Animal Crossing for hours, not being able to look away. In this time of not being able to go places, I have tips to help you relieve some of that stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, or whatever you are feeling that is preventing you from feeling happy or in a positive mood.
While we’re being told not to go out and about like we usually do, you can still go outside to your porch or backyard and just sit, go for a run, read a book, have an outside photoshoot or, really, anything involving you interacting with nature. No one wants to be cooped up, so going outside is really good for your mental health, because you won’t be around the same material things. It’s also very peaceful.
Try NOT using your phone or any electronic device (AKA unplugging)
This can be especially hard, considering all you want to do is watch TV or scroll through apps. However, this can be extremely, extremely, extremely helpful for your mind because you are staring at a tiny screen that is taking up all of your attention, which can be really draining. Taking a few hours to unplug and not worry about the things going on on your phone can be refreshing.
Learn a new hobby
Everyone is stuck at home, so what’s better than learning a new hobby? Things like cooking, baking, growing plants, playing guitar, drawing, sewing, and painting are hobbies you could learn while we are all at home. I recently tapped into sewing. Creating a new hobby for yourself could certainly keep you occupied.
We’re All in This Together
Know that everyone, not just teens in the United States, but teens all over the world are most likely feeling this too, so you are not alone! It is completely normal to feel fearful, and angry, and anxious during a time like this. Coming together is very important as well because everyone is dealing with this pandemic in different ways. Rallying one another and saying everything will be OK is more beneficial than you think.
The CDC does have some basic day-to-day tips for anyone (not just teens) who is feeling like this as well: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html.