September 19, 2020

Saba Shah says the pandemic has had a major effect on teenagers but says there are coping mechanisms alongside

Saba Shah is a teen who shares her perspective of what teenagers are perhaps largely going through because of unprecedented times of lockdown, restricted outdoor activities and the effect the global pandemic has had on mental health. This is her blog and she shares with Mums and Stories her opinion.

“Maa I’m going to the mall with my friends!” ….. ah a statement that was once so familiar to me now just feels foreign and forbidden.

As a teenager we all long for our summers to look like those early 2000’s Bollywood movies, where a bunch of friends decide to go on a long road trip and suddenly end up at a beach in Goa. Although that’s unrealistic even at a normal time, the idea is starting to seem even more far-fetched and dreamlike at times such as this pandemic where going to the supermarket is equivalent to the beach in Goa.

Jokes aside, this period of quarantine has been very difficult on all of us, especially us teenagers. As teenagers we study hard for our finals in order to indulge in some fun activities for our summer breaks.

As someone who just finished her 12th board exams I had made some very exciting plans that I looked forward to but got pushed out of the realm of possibilities because of the virus. This sudden change in environment made me feel a rush of different types of emotions hitting me simultaneously. I felt anger, frustration, disbelief and after a certain period of time loneliness.

I initially struggled to wrap my head around the idea of being confined to my house all even after doing just that for 3 months in preparation for my finals. As human beings we always look for someone to blame in the time of crisis. But what made things all the more frustrating was the fact that this time there was absolutely no one I could physically blame.

I know that I’m not alone in feeling this because I see my peers feeling the same way. What differs however is the way that we are handling everything. Some have fixated themselves on the idea of self-improvement, whether it be physical, mental or skill vies. This can be seen as a healthy coping method. Some others on the other hand have been indulging in harmful and unhealthy coping mechanisms thus resulting in a rise in mental health issues.

Mindset in such situations plays a key role in sustenance. Understanding that the situation is out of our hands but can be made the best of is very important instead of thinking of it as the end of the world.

Another important factor however that can influence unhealthy coping mechanisms is the presence of an non conducive environment for positive thinking.

We cannot trivialize mental health problems that arise in such a situation .

When I think of this, I count on how grateful I am to have a cooperative and supportive family which I know not everyone has the privilege of having.

Coming to students both my age and younger, dealing with online classes is extremely hard and inconvenient. One of the most glaring issues with online education is the lack of interpersonal communication and one on one support. Students right now may find themselves faltering for further explanation or intervention when they don’t grasp a concept. However, in uncertain times such as this the idea of online school is an unavoidable one. Now more than ever there is a pressure on students to be prompt and understand quickly in order to get things done faster, compensation for lost time.

Some suggestions I have to cope in the time of this pandemic for my fellow teenagers are:

1. Find a hobby or an activity that keeps you occupied.

2. Try exploring areas outside your comfort zone and try learning something new.

3. Try to take some time out of your day to sit outside in the balcony and get some fresh air.

4. Spend more time with family members now that everyone is home all the time.

5. Work on self-improvement. Take this time to better yourself so you can love yourself better.

6. Try creating a schedule and adhering to it. This will give you a sense of balance amidst all the chaos.

7. Be open with your feelings with parents and family or if not call up a friend and have some long

conversations that start with “Man, once this is over no…”. Basically, let off some steam when you

have to. Bottling up feelings is what can lead you off a healthy coping path towards an unhealthy

coping path.

8. Watch all the shows on Netflix, Prime, Hotstar, etc. Go crazy. In fact, make a family night out of it.

9. Try to find happiness in your own company. Last but certainly not least

10. Don’t lose hope.

Some words of reassurance I’d like to give to the teenagers reading this is that you are not alone. We are all in the same boat and I completely understand being fed up with this situation. However, as the overused and cliché saying goes ‘when life gives you lemons make lemonade’.

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