Coping with mental health issues for adolescents in the period of #covid19
TIPS ON MENTAL HEALTH
Adolescence is a crucial period for developing and maintaining social and emotional habits important for mental well-being. These include adopting healthy sleep patterns; taking regular exercise; developing coping, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills; and learning to manage emotions. It is therefore important for adolescents to learn how to effectively manage stress at this stage for physical and mental health in adulthood.
Recognize the signs of stress
Signs of stress in youth can show up in a number of ways:
- Irritability and anger: When you are stressed, you might be short-tempered or become more argumentative than normal. Also, when you easily switch over into a bad mood, then you are becoming stressed.
- Changes in behavior: When you begin to act out of your usual self, it is an indication of stress. A young person who used to be active now withdraws to a corner; this is a sign that stress levels are high.
- Trouble sleeping: An adolescent might complain of feeling tired all the time, sleep more than usual or have trouble falling asleep at night.
- Eating changes: Eating too much or too little can both be reactions to stress.
- Getting sick more often: Stress often shows up as physical symptoms. Adolescents who feel stress often report headaches or stomach aches, and might make frequent trips to the chemist, hospital or pharmacy.
Stress management for adolescents
Facing stressors is a fact of life, for both young and old. These strategies can help keep stress in check:
- Recognize that your anxiety is normal. If the Covid 19 situation and alarming headlines are making you anxious, you are not alone. Your anxiety is going to help you make the decisions that you need to be making right now: social distancing, washing your hands and not touching your face.
- Create Distractions. It is important to divide our challenges into two categories: things I can do something about, and then things I can do nothing about. For things you can do nothing about, create distractions for yourself by doing things you really enjoy; for instance, watching your favourite movie, getting to bed with a novel, dancing, playing a favourite game, and so on. You can even decide to bring children in your compound together to read out a book to them, or teach them something new.
- Focus on ‘you’. Have you wanted to learn how to do something new, start a new book or spend time practicing a musical instrument? Now is the time to do that. Focusing on yourself and finding ways to use your new-found time is a productive way to look after your mental health.
- Sleep well. Sleep is essential for physical and emotional well-being. Experts recommend nine to 12 hours of sleep a night for 6- to 12-year olds. Teens need eight to 10 hours a night. Sleep needs to be a priority to keep stress in check. To protect shut-eye, limit screen use at night and avoid keeping digital devices in the bedroom.
- Exercise. Physical activity is an essential stress reliever for people of all ages. Experts recommend at least 60 minutes a day of activity for children ages 6 to 17.
- Talk it out. Talking about stressful situations with a trusted adult can help adolescents put things in perspective and find solutions.
- Write about it. Expressing oneself in writing can help reduce mental distress and improve well-being. Most times, writing about positive feelings—such as the things you’re grateful for or proud of — relieves symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Be kind to yourself and others. An act of kindness to someone around you improves your feeling of ‘achievement’ and self-worth. Also, do not forget to be kind to yourself: when you are in trouble, and you reach out for help from a trusted adult, you have been kind to yourself.