This blog has been written by 16 year old Jola, who is in the Surrey Youth Cabinet.
Over the past year, the effects of COVID-19 have not just become part of our external world – with masks and social distancing – but also our internal & personal world; There have been losses of different kinds and contact with family and friends has been reduced to phone calls and FaceTime. This has become our new normal.
It is then no surprise that young people have arguably suffered the most during the pandemic (exempting the elderly). From schools being shut to festivals being cancelled, young people haven’t been able to truly live out some of the most crucial moments of their teen lives. This has unsurprisingly taken a toll on mental health and the statistics concur; a survey carried out by YoungMinds showed that “67% [of young people] agreed that they believe the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health” – this is a sad reality that many have faced.
The good news is, there seems to be a silver lining – a light at the end of the tunnel we move into the final stage of the Roadmap post 19 July – a day many thought would never come! Most restrictions have now come to an end. Many of us are excited for this new beginning – an amalgamation of our old normal and this new one. However, some still have mixed feelings with regards to socialising, the continued prevalence of COVID-19 and how anxiety may have an impact on this. And that is completely normal!
Personally, I have at times felt anxious and overwhelmed at the prospect of meeting with people I haven’t seen in over a year or just socialising in general after restrictions have lifted! However, I have been comforted by the idea that many people my age and even older are struggling with the same thing!
So how can we ensure that we don’t let anxiety get the best of us, when moving out of these restrictions! As I’ve already mentioned, almost everyone is going through the same process albeit in different ways so take comfort in this!
Additionally, I have four tips that I’ve come up with that may be of use when thinking about how to cope with Post-COVID anxiety:
- Start slow
You don’t have to go out and meet people every single day! Start slow – maybe with one friend who you know well and then slowly progress.
- Don’t set unrealistically high expectations
Initial meetings may be slightly awkward but that’s OK, don’t expect to be exactly where you were before COVID. As circumstances improve, you will begin to feel more comfortable.
- Allow yourself to struggle
If you feel overwhelmed with the prospect of socialising don’t beat yourself up about it. Just don’t let it completely stop you in your efforts of gradual progression towards whatever your goals are. Don’t let fear hold you back!
- Talk to trusted people
Talking to people is one of the best ways to cope with your feelings. Whether that be a trusted adult, a counsellor or even a friend, don’t underestimate the power of communication! Let them know how you feel and even ask for advice – I’m sure they’d be happy to impart some!
Overall, don’t let anxiety get the best of you when it comes to the next few months – acknowledge the negatives but look to the positives and you’ll be fine!
To find out more about this topic check out this YoungMinds blog post:
For more information about the government’s plans for easing out of restrictions visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-summer-2021-roadmap/covid-19-response-summer-2021
And if you’d like to learn more about the Surrey Youth Cabinet you can get more info here: Take me to the Surrey Youth Cabinet.