For the past 18 months, we have found ourselves trying to navigate the anxiety, isolation and un-certainty caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. This challenge has been particularly hard on adolescents and young adults who are newly embarking on the journey into adulthood. For some, this resulted in delayed or cancelled graduations and for some others, these changes have majorly impacted their mental health and increased their substance usage. In my practice, they often explain how they are trying to cope with the constant changes of the life they are just beginning to know. Ultimately, this is a reason as to why this post is important for others to read and understand as well.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based practice model that has shown efficacy in lessening symptoms of anxiety, helping people find wellness again, and decreasing the likelihood of negative coping behaviours. The points listed below are a few areas to consider if you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety during this time.
Challenge automatic negative thoughts
Have you ever had a negative thought that comes from seemingly nowhere? “That person just looked at me, they must think I am ugly.” “That exam was so hard I definitely failed it.” What evidence do you have to support your negative thoughts? What evidence do you have to dispute them? Chances are that reality will be kinder to you.
Participate in activities that bring you pleasure
When you think of activities to participate in, your mind might jump to the big ones like climbing a mountain or going on a vacation. What about the little everyday things that you do that bring you joy? A cup of coffee, a piece of chocolate, going to the movies, playing a sport, going for a walk, a hug, watching something that makes you laugh, cuddling an animal, people watching, listening to music, immersing in water (bath, shower, pool, lake…)...you get the idea.
Connect with positive people/supports
You know that friend that really makes you laugh or that family member that really listens and I mean really listens to what you say? Spend more time with those peeps. The ones that make you smile when you think of them or give you that invisible hug feeling.
Getting a good night's sleep
A good night’s sleep is associated with numerous physical and mental health benefits. 7-8 hours a night is ideal, and it is important to keep a consistent wind-down and wake-up schedule. During wind-down, focus on non-stimulating activities, like listening to music or reading. This is not the time to engage in stimulating activities like studying, going on your computer/phone/TV, or exercising. Ensure your room is comfortable, quiet, cool, and dark. Ensure you change your clothes between night time and day time!
Engage in tasks that provide you with a sense of mastery
Whether you are an amazing artist, the best COD teammate, or just really good at washing your car; participating in tasks that provide you a sense of accomplishment and mastery allow you to feel empowered and increase your self-esteem.
Mindfulness is about being in the present moment regardless of what you are doing. Everyday tasks can be done mindfully to provide a sense of grounding and connection. Whether you are walking to Starbucks, drinking your favorite Starbucks drink, or hanging out with your friends, these can all be done mindfully. Focus your attention on the present moment, take a non-judgmental stance, and notice your 5 senses (what do you see, what do you hear, what can you touch, what do you smell, what do you taste).
If you find any of these tips helpful and want to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you. A Clinical Social Worker and/ or a Psychologist can help you navigate some of these challenges throughout counselling. Please reach out to us if you think we can help in any way.
🌻We are currently running Group Therapy for adolescents and young adults with a CBT treatment model to target anxiety related issues and to build healthy social relationships. Please inquire, if you are interested!