This past year was rough. Daily routines, school, standing within six feet of your friends—and everything else that made life normal—has been put on a long pause. And it’s okay to really feel that loss. It couldn’t be more normal to get sad, stressed, anxious, hopeless, overwhelmed, or angry sometimes. A lot of us are.
And no one knows what the next year will look like or how long this new way of living will have to last. That’s why you have to take good care of yourself. Find healthy ways to get through the hard moments. The best self-care takes practice, so keep at it. And never forget that you deserve just as much care and compassion as you give others.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ways you can create time and space to care of yourself:
Focus on Your Emotions
Talk to Someone
Managing your emotions isn’t something you have to do alone. Talk to a friend, family member, or health professional—like your doctor or school nurse—about the things that are weighing on you, big or small. You can also reach out to other school support staff members, like your teacher, coach, or guidance counselor. Sometimes it can be easier to listen to someone else than to share your own struggles, but it’s important to find one or two people you can trust who will listen to you without judgment.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Recognizing your emotions is part of staying mentally and emotionally healthy. Instead of pushing them aside, process your feelings in a positive way by meditating, writing them down, or talking to someone you trust.
Find Your Calm
In moments of peak anxiety, loneliness, or anger—try finding balance in the uncertainty with small activities that help you put that energy somewhere else or just gives you a little break. Feeling trapped inside with your parents all day? Go for a walk or put on headphones and listen to your favorite playlist. Feeling mad or stressed out? Try deep breathing or doing something creative, like drawing or dancing.
Appreciate the Good
Having compassion and gratitude, both towards others and yourself, is important for your mental health. And it can come in many forms—like allowing yourself to take a break from things that stress you out or supporting the people you care about by reaching out and listening. Try taking a little time out of your day to give gratitude and reflect on the good things in your life, even when things are tough.
Adjust the Things You Can Control
When things get hard, any task can seem impossible. So, try breaking them down into smaller, manageable pieces. That way you can focus on one step at a time and make the overall task feel easier to tackle.
Social media is a great place to connect with people and stay up-to-date. It’s also important to recognize that sometimes it can make you feel overwhelmed and burnt out. So, remember to take breaks—even if they are short—to give yourself a mental rest.
Sometimes when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, all you want to do is shut down. Volunteering can be the perfect way to reconnect with your community or a cause you care about. Whether it’s an in-person donation or an online group, volunteering is a meaningful way to connect with others who care about the same things you do.
Know When You Need More
If you’re feeling too overwhelmed or struggling with something, there’s help. Talk to an adult you trust—like a teacher, counselor, or your doctor. Whatever it is, you can reach out for support.
Below are some trustworthy resources you can use anytime. While this list doesn’t include all of the resources available, it’s a good place to start:
- Teen Link provides free, confidential help to teens like you. Trained teens are available from 6 – 10 pm, seven days a week, to talk about any issue, big or small. If you need someone to talk to, call/text/chat 1-866-833-6546, visit teenlink.org, or check out their resource guide for teens.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. It is a hotline that provides 24/7 service—call or text 988.
- Crisis Connections links people in physical, emotional, and financial crisis to services. The crisis line is open 24 hours a day. Call 1-866-427-4747.
- Washington Recovery Help Line offers anonymous, confidential help for those using substances or experiencing a mental health challenge. The help line is open 24 hours a day. Call 1-866-789-1511.
- Washington Listens is a support program created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help people manage elevated stress and cope with the changes that have occurred.
- The Trevor Project Lifeline is the only nationwide, around-the-clock suicide prevention and crisis intervention lifeline for LGBTQ youth. Talk to someone at 1-866-488-7386—it’s free and confidential.
- The Washington State Department of Health has a page filled with mental health and wellness resources, including helplines, apps, websites, and more.
- Gay City, an organization that serves the LGBTQ community, has a page dedicated to wellness strategies and resource guides around mental health.
- Asian Counseling & Referral Service offers a variety of services, including mental health, by professionals who speak the same languages and come from the same cultural backgrounds as their clients.
- API Chaya provides free, confidential, and culturally-relevant services. Staff and trained volunteers are available to offer support, referrals, information, safety planning, and also simply to listen, on the confidential help line. Call 1-877-922-4292, M-F from 10am to 4pm to connect with someone.
- Consejo Counseling & Referral Service provides mental health, substance use, and other crucial services to the Latino community in Washington State.
- United Indians of All Tribes has been serving the urban Native community in Western Washington since 1970 and offer a variety of services.
- Asian Counseling Treatment Services offer a variety of services, including mental health and substance use.
- La Esperanza is a bi-lingual health counseling organization that offers health and substance use treatment in Spanish and English.
- Therapeutic Health Services offers mental health, youth, and substance use programs in order to help individuals and families lead healthier lives.
Things are different right now—we get that. However, it’s important to find ways to cope instead of using marijuana, which can actually increase your stress, depression, and anxiety. Remember to rely on the people around you, connect with friends to see how they are doing, and if you’re struggling, know that it’s okay to reach out for help.