Turns out April really is the cruelest month, but Lincoln’s psychologist and nurse in partnership with the Cardinal Families Health Action Network have these suggestions for ways our teens can make it through the friendless wasteland of social distancing.
Nothing like the COVID-19 pandemic has ever happened in any of our lifetimes. Taking care of yourself during this time is important, physically and mentally. This is a time to prioritize being with family. This is a time to continue to be in electronic contact with friends. It’s a time to rest and to pursue your personal interests in subjects that appeal to you. You can do that deep dive into the books or sites that will be meaningful to you after this pandemic is over.
One way you can take care of yourself is to schedule your time. You can expect some changes in your sleep and wake schedule. Try to stick to a normal schedule of going to bed and getting up. Staying up too late isn’t usually in your best interest. Lincoln students have traditionally not had nearly enough sleep. The recommended hours of sleep for teenagers are nine to ten hours. Now is a good time to catch up on the sleep you might have been missing since September. Just try to keep the sleep hours regular. Try keeping a sleep diary to help see trends and habits.
Try to pitch in and help your family, too. Having regular meal times together has been a proven strategy to improve relationships and enhance feelings of closeness. Eat healthy. If you are on a regular sleep schedule and you have regularly scheduled meals, then you might feel more normal in this very abnormal time. Use regularly scheduled sleep and meals to schedule the rest of your day. Schedule your day in ways that are both flexible and realistic for you. Include time for intellectual growth, personal reflection, receiving factual information, and social connection.
We are in a crisis and it’s not reasonable to expect that anyone can be perfect during such stress. If you make a mistake, apologize, and remember that no one is perfect. Make sure you are kind and forgiving to yourself and to your family for the mistakes you and they will make. Remember that some of the things you or they say in haste are because you or they were tired or anxious or irritable. Try to be as mindful as you can of your own emotions and actions.
Staying in contact with friends is important. And COVID-19 is very contagious. There are steps we can take to prevent the spread of infection. This disease spreads between people who are in physical proximity with one another—when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. It is spread when you touch an infected surface or object, like a game console or a cell phone, which is why it is so important to protect yourself. A six foot (two meter) distance between people is suggested when you have to go outside of your house for supplies needed to survive or to take a walk. It is not recommended to leave your house for social reasons.
Here’s why getting together with friends physically right now is not a good idea. The incubation period of this virus can be almost a month. You might be infected and you might not know it and then you could get your friend sick. They could be infected and they might not know it: they could get you sick. Some young people are more vulnerable because they have health conditions that you might not know about. If you become infected, you might spread this disease to family members who might be very vulnerable. Even if teens are healthy, a percentage (approximately 20%) of young people who contract this disease have symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization. And young people (as well as older people) die of this disease. Stay home. Don’t be scared; be smart. And be kind. If someone you know does get sick, don’t judge them. Don’t cut them off social media or say mean things about them. Just send them messages of your support. There will be a time in the future when normal activities resume. But now is not that time.
Staying in contact with friends now means staying in contact electronically. Online communication platforms will never replace IRL and the joy and comfort we get in the physical company of friends. But that is the sacrifice we as a world are called upon to make right now to keep ourselves, our families, and our friends alive. We don’t know how long this isolation will last. As Anthony Fauci has said, the timetable for social distancing is set by the Corona virus, not by our own agendas. Hopefully, that time will be over soon. For additional factual information contact your school nurse, ask your doctor, or check the https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html website.
Thanks to Jim Hanson, School Psychologist, Mary Johnson, Nurse and the Cardinal Families Health Action Network for this content.