What’s the tea with this pandemic you ask?

…Besides the fact that it has been brewing for what seems endless months now. The pandemic has interrupted many aspects of our lives. If you’re wondering when this is ending, you’re not alone…whether you were trapped at home, were unable to see your friends, found yourself spending more time online…the lack of independence must’ve hit hard. Oh, I didn’t forget the school part either. Having to worry about schoolwork and all the other aspects of academia adds a whole other layer of stress on top of all the other personal issues that you may have going on.

COVID should be canceled, for the ways it has hurt and dragged us.

If you’re angry, confused, saddened by everything that is going on, you have every right to be! In fact, if you’re reading this right now, I want you to do either of these two things: turn on your favorite song and just dance to it or take your pillow and scream into it – because I’m right there with you!

Okay… after doing either of those things, I want to take some time to remind you, that there is hope out there! As we are reentering the world, there are so many things to look forward too. With the new school year, there’s some things to consider…

Let’s start with the little things…

because they do add up, I promise! Whether it’s your morning routine that includes starting your day out washing your face with your favorite cleanser or the ability to drive or to having your favorite choice of beverage during breakfast, add one small thing to your routine that makes you smile.

 Now, I want you to think about your SPARK, every teenager has one. This is something that you enjoy and is useful to the world. This is what gives you energy and a feeling of purpose …and it can literally be ANYTHING – from being an environmental warrior, a climate change advocate, riding a horse, painting, dancing, cooking, enjoying music, outdoor education, fishing, watching other people play games on YouTube, breeding ducks, chatting with your friends, mountain bike riding, rock wall climbing, yoga, – please find the thing that makes you ‘spark’ and as Nike says, JUST DO IT, and do it often! (Maggie Dent, 2019).

If you are someone who spends a lot of time on your phone or on social media, this one goes out to you!

It’s been proven that the rise in smartphones and social media use is a major factor that contributes to amplifying social drama and encourages one to constantly compare themselves to others. I want to encourage you to limit your screen time and mute/unfollow any accounts that don’t serve you in a positive way. Make it a mission to follow more accounts that make you feel good, this can be accounts that have funny memes, affirmations, quotes that uplift you or topics that you genuinely enjoy and are curious about. It can feel like we don’t have control of what we see on our newsfeed if every time we refresh there is something new, however, TAKE BACK some of your power and personalize what you want your dashboard to look like.

Another thing to address is, while your education is important, you are not defined by your GPA, classes you take, or where you’re going to college or really any other external factor!

However, I do want to encourage you to ask for help. Asking for assistance during tough times is important! This period has been isolating enough and you should take advantage of everything that is being offered to you! Whether that is a support group, counseling, time to reconnect with your friends, tutoring, study groups, workshops…take what you need!

You might have missed out on a lot of monumental stepping stones this past year…

whether it was prom to sports games, etc., it was not fun, so I want to encourage you to enjoy every second of the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can be achieved by focusing on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. See the thing is, conflict and moments of uncertainty can show up at any time and as much as we don’t always have control of how things turn out, we have control of how we respond to those events and how we take care of ourselves. In times of distress, listen kindly to your body and your needs in that moment, whether it is making sure you eat, to doing something fun for yourself, respond with self-compassion.

Lastly, I want to encourage you to connect with the world around you.

The healthy relationships in our lives can have profound benefits, thus, being a good friend and having good friends is important. When teens feel emotionally flat, they can stop connecting with their friends and the outside world and this can be a very dark place for them to be (Maggie Dent, 2019). It’s always ok to ask your friend, “Are you ok?” and the simple act of just listening, being there, and letting them cry with you is often enough. Remember, though, if you fear for a friend’s safety, you may need to seek help from a trusted adult. If you are feeling lonely, I urge you to reach out to a friend or family member! You deserve the support and care that the people around you have to offer. Whether that is reaching out to support hotline to speak anonymously about how you are feeling to letting the people around you know, please don’t suffer alone!

Remember, things might not always work out the way we planned but we will learn something just as important!

– With hope,

T.G.

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