Priorities vary by time and space, and struggles can be both physical and mental. One seemingly universal idea of happiness in this day and age comes from being successful. This means we are expected to go to university, get a well-paying job, find a family and settle down. Movies and TV shows create the pressure to get a higher education, be employed and have children. Even in optimal conditions, teenagers are stressed about their futures, friends, schoolwork and more. Currently, the fears about the pandemic, and the very upsetting news, compounded by this unusual state of being in isolation, are adding to adolescents’ anxieties. As a student who now has an abundance of free time, I feel pressure to be extremely productive. This pressure, experienced with very limited contacts and contexts, can make the already worrying quarantine far more stressful. Additionally, this extra time means I am overthinking far more than usual. It is one thing to be able to comprehend the drastic change in our lifestyles and understanding there is a dangerous virus taking lives and another to be constantly worried about using our time effectively.
The weight of these two stressors in the back of our minds is very overwhelming. According to the CDC, children and teenagers may respond ‘more strongly’ to the stress of a crisis, along with key workers, older people and people suffering from mental health illnesses. As reported by The Insider, 3 out of 5 Americans admit to feeling lonely and this number is rising in isolation. Zlatin Ivanov (a psychiatrist in New York) told The Insider ‘All our systems, including social, psychological and biological, have developed around social groups and interaction with one another. Social isolation in most cases would bring the negative effect of loneliness, anxiety, and sometimes depression.’ Without a support system in real life (for example, your friends at school), many keep their worries to themselves, which can cause them to intensify. This can lead to the lack of motivation, or procrastination, which makes us less productive, but adds to our stress.
I believe teachers and the media should remind the general public that it is okay to not be spending all their time trying to work. Our priority should be taking care of ourselves and others. We should learn strategies for coping, let alone being expected to perform optimally in isolation. It is important to manage your mind by embracing all your feelings and understanding it is normal to be concerned. It is helpful to set attainable goals, express yourself and take breaks. Balance is always key and it can range from news intake to exercise. Keeping your body healthy and happy is crucial, and can be done by staying hydrated and eating properly.