As a junior at Palo Alto High School who struggles with many learning issues, I often find it difficult to focus. I also struggle with depression and severe anxiety at times. Because of this, there have been many steps I have taken to ensure that my mental health is taken care of during this time.
I understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for young people my age, as their parents could now be out of a job, they miss their friends, grading and forms of learning may have entirely changed, and more… I recommend staying active and getting some source of exercise each day. Wearing a mask and leaving your house for a few minutes to take a walk or jog is very helpful and de-stressing. Getting that dose of fresh air really helps me personally. I like to run around my block from 4-5 pm every day; this also helps me create a sense of routine. Another way I stay active is by doing yoga. Once a week I play a yoga video on YouTube, and my dad and I will do it together. After my exams, we are both really looking forward to playing tennis as well, since my county (Santa Clara) has enabled non-contact sports.
Something that I’ve added to my self-care routine is the practice of mindfulness. I recently joined a teen mindfulness class, where we are taught breathing exercises and other techniques to calm oneself down and be compassionate with ourselves. Simply understanding that anxiety is something one can actually work at reducing is a very big realization for me. I also have some apps to help with that, which is very cool. For example, I use the app Calm, and with a few minutes of meditation, I feel like I’m in a different world. Being compassionate with myself helps me to understand that it’s okay to feel stress; this helps me relax and prevent negative self-talk. Now, I’m at least aware when I’m feeling anxious so I can try to focus on calming down.
To continue, connecting with my peers has been made easier through the club that I recently helped launch at PALY: Buds 4 Better. This club, meant as a peer group for teens with learning differences and challenges, has helped our members transition to new routines while still feeling connected to each other. It’s now run virtually, due to COVID-19, to continue bringing everyone together. We conduct it over the weekends so everyone can attend. I feel so happy to be able to keep making a difference in the world, regardless of how big or small, despite the pandemic we are facing.
I also have many hobbies that keep me busy during this quarantine. I love to sing, and I try to squeeze in at least twenty minutes a day to practice Italian and French Opera. This helps me relax. It reminds me of happier days when I could go to voice lessons in-person or perform on stage. I enjoy writing in my spare time; I am working on a teen mystery novel just for fun. Finally, I like to cook. My house tends to be filled with lots of food on most days, except when my mom gets busy. And that’s my chance to cook, which is a very therapeutic activity for me.
I do miss being around my friends, being able to explore stores at the mall, and going out to eat frozen yogurt. I miss biking to school and racing around our busy campus. But, I try to see this physically-isolated time in an optimistic light as much as possible; this time has its benefits too. I especially feel close to my family and to my friends since we are all going through this together, and knowing that makes me feel more united with my loved-ones. Perhaps this experience will grant us the tools to thrive in the future and help our communities too. Perhaps we will all learn to slow down and focus on what’s important. Friendly reminder to everyone: stay safe, and remember you are not alone!
TeenzTalk's Blog is here to amplify youth stories and perspectives on topics including personal challenges, self-care practices, initiatives in their community, and more.