Post by: Mimi Doe
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic is incredibly stressful for all of us in so many ways. For students, whose lives are turned upside down, they are unable to turn to friends to buffer their anxiety. Routines are disrupted, plans are canceled, and high school as they’d envisioned has changed overnight. One of the most effective ways to bolster your immune system, however, is to reduce stress. Here are some tips as you navigate this surreal new reality.
TOP TIPS TO REDUCE CORONAVIRUS STRESS
I’ve been in the hospital for the past 3 days with my daughter, who just had a baby girl. Yes, it was stressful and eerie being in a hospital during this frightening time, wondering if the coronavirus was lurking on every surface. But once my sweet, tiny granddaughter was born, we entered another zone. It became all about the baby and mommy recovering. It was baby’s weight and hearing test and blood work and burping and feeding. We didn’t watch television news, read a newspaper, or turn the New York Times on our phones. Instead, we counted time by the baby’s feedings. It was liberating. There were no visitors allowed, so the rhythm of life in a hospital room was calm. I urge you to take a conscious break from the news. Life will go on without you checking in on the latest crisis. Try it. Ban the news for the day and see how you feel. Trust me, you will hear any urgent updates from family and friends.
Create a Schedule
Around the world high schools have switched to online classes or simply ended classes for the year. It’s not easy to manage a schedule when there are no bells ringing or the routine of life in high school. Be the boss of your day, as much as you can, and organize your time. Create a mindful routine in the mornings now that you aren’t rushing to catch a school bus or carpool. Set up breaks to move away from the computer.
Even though sports practices are halted, don’t stop moving your body. Add exercise to your schedule. There are plenty of free ways to do so online. I’m obsessed with Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and I’ve heard great things about Core Power Yoga classes. Get outside and jump rope (we see plenty of rope jumpers on high rise balconies here in Austin), or like my husband, challenge yourself to increase your time in plank posture. Exercise definitely helps lower your stress and increases your endorphins.
Friends are a critical lifeline during this time of isolation and it can be agony to be away from them. Come up with ways to stay connected while maintaining social distance. Have a virtual dinner party with a bunch of your friends via FaceTime or Zoom. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t visit a friend through the window or 6 feet apart in a circle playing your favorite instruments. Can you designate a parking lot and gather sitting on your car trunks like these teens?
Address Test Anxiety
High school classes are still happening online and students still have tests. Many classes are going to be pass/fail, but it’s not a time to slack off. Standardized tests will happen eventually and your prep for the ACT, SAT, Subject Tests and APs should be happening for you now. AP tests will be administrated online, so students can still take them at home. They will be shorter than the original AP test but the scores will still matter for college admissions, especially for current juniors. Subject Tests in May have been pushed to June and who knows if they will happen.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more stress hormones. Create a plan for at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night! Have trouble falling asleep? I use the free Insight Timer app when my racing mind keeps me up. The guided meditations are just the trick when sleep won’t come. I especially like the sleep meditations by Bethany Auriel-Hagen. I also am a big proponent of getting your technology out of the bedroom (yes, even charging your phone in another room). In fact, get off of your devices an hour or two before preparing for sleep. There is plenty of research that blue light increases your stress. Blue light glasses are readily available online and you might try them to see if your stress goes down. I take magnesium about an hour before bedtime. Studies have shown that many of us are magnesium deficient. Talk to your doctor of course, but magnesium relaxes and calms most people. Some like to drink their magnesium and Calm does the trick for many teenagers I know. Give it a try.
Take a Virtual Vacation
Many families were planning exciting summer trips that have now been cancelled or postponed. Just because you can’t fly to Paris, however, doesn’t mean you can’t spend some time in the Louvre! Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can teleport to some of the world’s greatest art museums and historical sites from the comfort of your quarantine. As an added benefit, studies show that engaging with art and culture leads to increased rates of good health and lower rates of anxiety and depression.
Next time you’re tempted to refresh Twitter, try going on one of these virtual tours instead:
- Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
- The Louvre, Paris
- Vatican Museums
- Byzantine and Christian Virtual Museum
- Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
- São Paolo Museum of Art
- The Frick, Pittsburgh
- The Palace Museum: The Forbidden City, China
- American Battlefield Trust: 360-degree Battlefield Tours
- Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
- George Washington’s Mount Vernon
- Westminster Abbey, London
- Guggenheim Museum, New York
- Musée d’Orsay, Paris
- Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Remember—take it one day at a time and don’t forget to breathe. When it comes to college admissions stress, we’re here for you! Reach out today, and let’s make a plan together.