As parents or caregivers, parents often hate it when children and young adults are always seen with their phones in their hands and eyes on their mobile screen. Similarly, children hate it when parents always ask them, “What did you study today? Why do you always waste your time? Don’t you think it’s high time that you should make your day more productive?”. I am sure we can all agree that it can be extremely frustrating and irritating.
About 4 months ago, words like pandemic, quarantine and mental health were less unheard of, but today that’s all we hear.
All of a sudden, there is an increase in mental health issues like depression, stress, financial anxiety which in turn leads to increased attempts to suicide and self-harm.
We’ve all heard these words and talk about them very often,
but are we actually aware of their actual meanings? Let me enlighten you:-
A disease that spreads over the whole country or the whole world.
Nowadays this term is spoken about a lot and it’s well said that one should take care of their mental health, but what is mental health? Mental Health is nothing but a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Mental Health is the state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
In a medical or biological context, stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. A small amount of stress is desired, beneficial, or even healthy as it improves athletic performance and keeps us motivated.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worries, thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
As the COVID-19 crisis threatened to disrupt the academic calendar, there had also been an excess of information and news provided which also affected the exam cycle and increased stress levels of students and young adults. Here’s the timeline:
- Initially, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, ICSE, CBSE postponed Board exams of 10th and 12th after 31st March.
- UPSC exams and interviews postponed to 3 April 2020 from 23 March 2020.
- National Institute of Open School and JEE Mains were also postponed.
- As on 20th May, 10th and 12th exams were to be conducted.
- In state Karnataka, exams after lockdown were a success.
- In Rajasthan, exams were conducted in the first week of June.
Based on the above data, it is natural that students and parents might be going through increased levels of stress and uncertainty due to exams being postponed and then canceled.
In a nutshell, students and parents might be experiencing various emotions such as happiness, sadness, confusion, etc.
Questions / Statements/ Thoughts Parents end up asking or saying or thinking to their children during lockdown period
“Don’t you think you are using your phone way too much these days, from now on you better reduce your screen time or else I will take your phone away from you”
Thought behind this order – I am sure my child can use this time more productively rather than just using the phone the whole day.
Why don’t you wake up early and exercise otherwise you will become fat and unhealthy, don’t you think?
Thought behind this advice- I am sure my children must be thinking that it’s a holiday time, and they need to understand it’s not and they need to get their bodies moving since the online classes have also started.
Try inculcating new habits, this is a period to develop and learn some new habits and you shouldn’t waste your time by doing nothing.
Thought behind this question – Again, my children wasted their day and didn’t learn anything new today, I wish I could have some more time and sit and make them learn something new today. Parents, just chill! Breathe out!
What did you do today?
Thought behind this question Oh my god! This work from home has been so stressful as there is increased pressure. Why am I realising my fear of salary cuts on my children?
As a psychologist, I would like to remind you that IT IS OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY. As parents, there is a higher possibility that sometimes you might feel frustrated for no reason.
Due to this frustration and irritation we might start getting aggressive with our child thereby adding our fears to the child’s emotions.
Amidst this lockdown, if we fail in our attempt to make our day productive, there are higher chances of us attracting a negative flow of thoughts, which leads to a vicious circle of overthinking. Following this, it’s very natural that one might start doubting themselves, thereby increasing self-doubt and decreasing self-esteem. Towards the end of the day, one can be left feeling worried, confused, stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious.
If you are going through emotional stress, another suggestion from the counsellor’s point of view is to avoid being too harsh and panicked about COVID19 as it can lead to more anxiety.
Hence, it is important to be more gentle, less critical, and kinder to yourself, reminding yourself constantly that you are dealing with the situation as best as you can. Remember, you are trying to adjust to the new normal and that’s never easy.
Questions / Statements/ Thoughts children or young adults end up asking or saying or thinking to their parents or caregivers during lockdown period
When are we going to meet our friends?
Thought behind this question – As I am not able to meet my friends, I feel it’s really affecting me and I don’t know why I feel so restless and anxious about it.
We are so bored, what do we do now?
Thought behind this question – Our leisure activities have also been so limited, as we can’t step out of the house, wondering what else to do.
Can I please speak to my friend in private for a while?
Thought behind this question – This Quarantine has led to decreased privacy and I never knew that this could be so stressful!
Is it okay if I watch little T.V or play a video game for now and do my homework after sometime
Thought behind this question- Is this for real, why can’t I have my freedom. Why are my actions and behaviours being monitored?
I think you don’t love me that much and I feel miserable because you keep shouting at me all the time
Thought behind this question- Why are we having so many arguments and fights in the family? I’m sure my friends are much happier!
To all the children and young adults out there, who are doing incredibly well, here are some suggestions from the counsellor’s point of view which you can definitely apply in your day-to-day life.
As far as the pandemic and coronavirus outbreak is concerned, there might be thousands of thoughts in your head, and it’s very important to talk and express them
- Communication plays a vital role in overcoming quarantine boredom and stress. You may feel overly stressed about the situation. In such a case, feel free to talk to your parents. They are there to hear you out.
- Secondly, things might seem in order at the surface level, but small concerns and issues in a sustained, home-bound situation can lead to family conflicts and add to the existing pandemic panic and stress.
- Thirdly, if you don’t feel like eating or feel like you tend to sleep/oversleep or experience nightmares due to overthinking about the ongoing situation, then start tracking your eating and sleeping pattern. If you notice a drastic change, then try rectifying the issue by maintaining a routine. Create a healthy schedule for yourself taking into consideration meal timings, sleep, recreational time, studying time. Keeping a check on eating and sleeping habits will not only keep you stress-free, but also emotionally and physically healthy.
How To Cope-Up With Pandemic Stress
Make a conscious effort to sit with your child and encourage them to talk about their feelings and emotions. Make them believe in you and if you think that you overreacted in some situations and ended up taking out your anger and frustration on your children for no reason, Remember : Apology is always a pleasure
It is always an emotional energy booster, exercises serve two way purposes- it helps us to stay fit and at the same time to keep our emotions in place. Hence, Parents should encourage their children to exercise in any form and parents can do it along with their children , thereby increasing the family bonding and reducing screen time.
DO NOTHING and CHILL
We often feel that my child wasn’t productive. Based on the child’s activities and behaviors, we start blaming ourselves. Whenever we are sitting with our child it doesn’t mean we have to teach them a moral lesson and then have a quality time. We can have an amazing family bonding time by doing nothing. The Family can just sit together and entertain themselves:-
- By looking at old pictures and remembering the memories.
- Board games are always cool and one can never get bored
- A deck of cards is always playful.
- Do some storytelling together.
- By watching some series together on T.V, Netflix, or Amazon.
As Parents and Children : Together as a team, try to create some fun schedules which include WFH for parents, online classes for children. Post that, the whole family can exercise, watch tv and play games together. It’s suggested that families can have meals together and each family member can share what they are grateful for!
As Parents and Children: It’s extremely crucial to have some “me” time and don’t be too hard on yourself, always remember arguments are going to happen! Practice little self-care by doing the things that you love
- Soaking in a warm bath.
- Lying on your bed, listening to your favorite song
- Going for a run or trying your favorite hobby such as gardening, dancing, meditation.
- Reading your favorite books
- Watching a movie
- Putting on a face mask
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! If you practice all the above strategies in your day-to-day life, conflicts can be handled in a much easier way than you think and it’s very much possible!
You need to understand, realize, and say it aloud to yourself that you are not alone. Let’s cope up with this pandemic stress together and you know that you can do it! BECAUSE ‘Mental Health is equally important as Physical Health’! We never know how long the virus is going to stay, hence, we need to normalize our lives and get on with it. Therefore, we have to increase our mental resilience for the uncertain times ahead.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a Counseling Psychologist, Therapist, Graphologist, and an NLP Practitioner. I did my Bachelors in Psychology from Mithibai College, Mumbai University, and acquired a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from SNDT University, Mumbai.
I am the head counselor at and an L&D at Ryan International Group of Institutions.
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