With everything that has happened, it's no surprise that 2020 has been one of the most stressful years we have seen in a long while (Election Day, anyone?). Whether or not this year has been challenging for you, stress is something that we all face and finding healthy ways to cope is always important so since today is International Stress Awareness Day, we decided to ask our youth about what currently stresses them and how they cope with it.
The first major source of stress for our youth revolves around school. While virtual learning is a challenge for even the best of us, for those that struggle with concentration, reading and education as a whole, virtual learning can be even more overwhelming than the norm.
Many of our youth have trouble with traditional learning and without the proper resources and regular access to teachers, school has become a prominent source of stress. Class schedules are constantly changing and uploaded at the last minute, overwhelming amounts of content are loaded at a time (instead of segmented into manageable chunks) and it takes a lot of discipline to create a structured schedule for learning, something that does not necessarily come naturally to many vulnerable youth.
While our youth are thankful for the sense of normalcy that school brings, the new practices and limited access to resources has brought a brand new set of challenges that we are sure has caused universal stress among students everywhere.
Despite the boredom that many months of quarantine can cause, many of us were lucky to have been able to find comfort within our own homes. However, for many of our youth, that wasn't necessarily the case.
From shelters to unhealthy domestic environments and familial relationships, our youth don't often live in optimal environments and can be exposed to situations that no one should be in. While this type of living situation is already stressful on its own, mandatory quarantine can increase stress dramatically and make situations harder to handle. And since the pandemic has shut down services and places, many of these youth no longer have access to certain support systems or the opportunity to have a change of scenery for a few hours with activities hosted by local community centres.
Studies have shown that the impacts of COVID-19 are amplified amongst vulnerable communities and marginalized youth are no exception. Many rely on general, public health resources and with those in high demand, it is often difficult for them to access the adequate medical resources needed should they fall ill.
How They Cope
After reading all the current stress our youth are facing, it can leave you wondering how they manage to stay positive or push through these challenges. Here are some ways they have mentioned that has helped them through these difficult times:
- Talking to someone: Whether it's a therapist, friends or coworker, speaking to someone they trust helps our youth feel supported in times when it might seem otherwise.
- A self-care routine: From a skincare regime, to meditating and journaling, these practices are natural mood boosters to give them renewed energy in tackling challenges.
- Entertainment: Listening to music or watching their favorite shows is a sure way to help our youth feel better by offering them a temporary escape from overthinking stressful situations
- ... and CRAFTS: Who says art therapy doesn't work? Our youth have said that making jewelry actually helps them reduce anxiety by allowing them to focus on the art of creating.
While these activities may not have solved the problems that our youth face they are a healthy way for them to cope with their challenges and maintain a positive outlook to tackle them. Whether or not you are able to relate to their specific situations, we hope you feel inspired and have learned new tips on dealing with stress or were even reminded of old habits that may be useful again!