These past few months have been very stressful for young people. With the combined effects of a pandemic, virtual school, and being separated from friends, it has been tough for a lot of people, but these factors have taken a harsh toll on the youth of our society.
As a student, I have seen the decisions around my school change frequently as a result of the pandemic. It’s been pretty challenging to live through this time, and unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to learn the way I would like, with whom I would like, or even what I would like, as schools are forced to make difficult choices amid the pandemic.
Many schools have decided to go completely remote, and that has caused its own set of challenges for us students. We have to struggle through the volume of schoolwork, we have to keep up with schedules or risk falling way behind, and we have to be sure to get help when we need it.
I’ve encountered most of these issues, and they are very real, contribute to added stress in our lives, and are most definitely not ideal. If your school year has been anything like mine, there is a lot expected of us this year.
Personally, I need to adopt new schedules with synchronous and asynchronous teaching, learn new collaboration tools, and adjust to new homework and grading systems. I am expected to learn all of this as well as stay on top of schoolwork.
As students, we can get swamped with work when we don’t tend to it right away, and this becomes overwhelming. As the work continues to pile up, it becomes more and more difficult to reach out to teachers and others for help. These times have been pretty confusing and definitely overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel lost.
When we physically went to school, it was easy to talk to our teachers or to classmates about our class and get help on what we were struggling with. Now it takes much more effort to reach out and get help for yourself. Help is no longer right there in front of you.
Whenever there’s no one I can speak to, I tend to get kind of worried about my work and that I’m not understanding everything I need to understand. When studying remotely, I know that I can sometimes feel alone and closed off from the world. There are no more impromptu meetups in the hallways, at lunch time, or after school. There is no longer an opportunity to socialize on the walk or commute to school. There are no longer school sports teams or physical after-school clubs. In short, there is much less opportunity for social connection with my peers.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
So what can we do about this? First of all, acknowledge that these are very challenging and unprecedented times and it’s impossible to have control over everything. Secondly, understand that you are not alone in this.
I have found others facing many of the same challenges, and often feeling anxious, overwhelmed, lonely, depressed or just out of sorts. Never be afraid to email your teacher if you are struggling with something, as they want to see you succeed and will most likely be very open to helping you in any way they can.
If you’re not comfortable with that, then simply get the contact information of one of your classmates and to reach out to them when you're struggling. They can help you, and if they are struggling with something, be sure to try and help them too.
I know my friends and I often set up a zoom call every other day or so, and we take thirty minutes out of the day to talk about stuff that’s happening in our classes and how we’ve been doing over the past few days. It’s good to check up on your friends, and it’s also great when they check up on you. It’s also fun to keep these small sessions exciting, so we sometimes play the popular game Among Us to relax.
Another thing you can do is keep a schedule or organizer handy to keep track of the work you need to do. Be creative and use whatever works for you. Maybe it’s a large calendar, a whiteboard, sticky notes, different colored markers, digital reminders. If you’re more of a visual person, then try using colors as a cue for when things are due.
If what you try at first doesn’t do the trick, then try another solution. Keep experimenting until you find something that will help you keep track of all current and upcoming tasks, assignments and tests. It also helps to get work done early and avoid distractions. For most teenagers, one major distraction is their phone, so I would recommend turning it off while attending any virtual classes, or when you do your homework.
Whenever I do my homework, I always shut down my phone so I’m not tempted to even look at it, and then I put my head down and do my work as well as I can. Whatever helps you do your work better and more efficiently is good (as long as it’s not cheating), and if you can ignore the distractions, all the better.
It’s also important to make sure that you stay in touch with your friends, as it helps with feeling better if you’re going through a stressful situation. Chances are many people are going through the same thing, and it helps to be as nice as possible to everyone you know, as they could be feeling down or secluded. Try to reach out and make an effort to make those around you feel better and more comfortable in their situation.