2020 is a year we will never forget, our lives and sense of normality suddenly changed. For many who have children in school, this change is something that is hard to adjust to. Everything students and children learned in day to day life; interacting with other children; learning the school curriculum; playing with one another in the playground, has suddenly vanished from their lives.
How do we adjust from this? How do we bring a sense of normality back into their lives? How do we catch up on all the work they have missed? There are so many unanswered questions and it can be very daunting at first. However, support systems like The Talking Rooms are here to help answer these questions and bring psychological structure and support back into the lives of young people in Scotland.
We have put together a few key points that will help young people during lockdown and a self-distancing summer. This is all a bit daunting, and we get it – let us support you and your young people and utilise these supports with the return to education at the end of the Summer.
ENSURING YOUNG PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AFTER THE FOUNDATIONS OF THEIR MENTAL WELLBEING
The first crucial point is ensuring young people are looking after their mental health and wellbeing.
If you are a teenager or you’re a parent to one, first off – take a deep breath – you’ve done amazing! This has to go down in history, as one of the strangest, but also most stressful, worrying times of our generation. Yours and mine.
Young people have been resilient and have coped incredibly well by utilising technology to fill their time, connect with friends and even try and find that Google classroom. Alas though, unless we ramp up the self-care, those happy hormones we all NEED, including teenagers, will not be produced – resulting in a reduced enjoyment of life and lowered mood.
Ensuring you are looking after the foundations of your mental wellbeing is critical to your wellness generally. Making time for self-care, going big walks, exercising, sleeping well, eating well, drinking plenty of water – everyday self-care routines will help your mental health.
It’s the small steps every day that help the bigger steps long term. Perhaps taking up an online class or setting a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day will help you feel productive and give you a sense of achievement. Take a zoom call with friends or organise a zoom online quiz once a week to help feel connected with others and have some form of interaction. If you follow these little steps it will help with the production of happy chemicals such as serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins and dopamine – happy chemicals that help you live a happy life.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious, then we are here to listen. Whether you want to speak about life during lockdown or life after lockdown, we are here to help. Our online counselling sessions cater to everyone.
STAY CONNECTED WHEN YOU FEEL DISCONNECTED
Social distancing can make you lonely. Many people are facing periods of enforced isolation and others are having to social distance. Among other things, this means when we’re around others, we shouldn’t get too close, and should avoid physical touch and interaction.
Social distancing and self-isolation will be a challenge for many people. The feeling of being socially isolated will enhance the feeling of loneliness. Ensuring you say connected with others when the distance is real will help you feel a sense of connection and normality.
A long period of uncertainty and lack of control can lead to increased anxiety and have negative impacts on our mental health. Fortunately, we are living in the technology era where staying connected is easier than ever. So, use the phone when you can, create group chats, message old friends, reach out to your loved ones. There are so many new apps that have launched during lockdown to help us stay connected.
For many, staying connected can be difficult and we may not have people to connect with. That’s why we are here to offer you one-to-one support. You can call us anytime, arrange a video call and speak through anything that might be on your mind. The great thing about our counselling service is that it’s online so we can match you up with the right therapist from across the UK.
COUNSELLING HAS INDIRECT POSITIVE INLUENCE ON ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
Having a support system in place is more important now than ever. If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s how important the simple things are in life. Life isn’t just about working to pay your bills, it’s about a sense of connection, family dinners on a Sunday night, holding your loved ones close, giving your friend a hug, bumping into strangers in your local coffee shop. With this being tragically taken away from our lives it can leave us feeling down, lonely and anxious. Having support and someone to talk to about how you are feeling can have a positive effect on many things including young people’s academic achievement.
Taking a period out of school classes with no interaction with classmates, can leave young people feeling anxious to start back and return to normal. We offer over the phone counselling and video calls which give young people someone to speak too other than the people they are locked down with. Over the summer holidays this could have a huge positive impact on their mental wellbeing for returning to school in August.
OUT OF ROUTINE AND FEELING TRAPPED
We have become so accustomed and used to ‘lockdown life’ that returning to a sense of normality can be a shock to the system. You may feel anxious about entering the real world again, a world that you might have not missed. Being out of routine can make this feeling of anxiety more heightened, hence why it is so important to try stay in a routine. For the lucky ones who still have work and a structure to their day, this might not seem so bad. However, for many of us who are furloughed or not in school and have lost the routine to our lives, keeping one can prove difficult.
We suggest you set an alarm Monday-Friday, get up, go for a shower and get changed into fresh clothes. It is proven that if you change out of your pj’s, you are more likely to be productive during the day. A good idea is to go for a morning walk to get your body moving and brain active, have breakfast and read a chapter of a book or do some online research on a new topic you don’t know much about. This is easy just now, you could learn more about the Black Lives Movement or History of Racism, current news helps the brain stay active and helps you learn new things. Look at what’s going on around you and use these little everyday topics to teach yourself new things! It keeps your brain working and will help when returning to school.
Whether you already live with an anxiety disorder or have experienced anxiety for the first time due to the pandemic, these are things you can do to help you cope with lockdown and the inevitable readjustment that has to take place once restrictions are lifted.
WE ARE HERE TO LISTEN AND DON’T OFFER A COOKIE CUTTER APPROACH
What about lockdown aftermath? Will we see a spike in mental health issues as a direct result of lockdown? While it’s hard to know yet, there’s a risk for those even without mental health problems to suffer from an ‘adjustment reaction’. That’s why our counselling service is here for you throughout every stage. We are here to help and work with the person, the symptoms and the causes to ensure mental wellbeing improves. We don’t just offer a set amount of sessions, we are there as much as you need us. Our Cognitive Behaviour Therapy model works with your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, to identify and improve thinking styles, how you feel and what you do, and ultimately improving your mindset and mood. This is crucial during lockdown, it can be simple things effecting your mindset and mood because everything is so uncertain. The uncertainty; the over thinking; feeling scared; feeling overwhelmed; becoming anxious about life after lockdown.
This is not a normal situation we are facing, and there is not a ‘normal’ way to respond. So, for anyone concerned about restrictions easing, I would say go easy on yourself and recognise that this is not a normal situation. If you are still feeling uneasy and need to speak to someone then we are here. If you feel like you could benefit from our confidential service during lockdown, after lockdown or just in general – please don’t hesitate to contact us.