by Dr. Andrew Petsche, New York State & Nationally Certified School Psychologist at Shaker High School
The last few weeks have forced us to completely change our way of living. We’re not allowed to go to school, stuck at home and told that we can’t see our friends and extended family members, and told that, for the time being, school will be held virtually. As we adjust to the new normal of social distancing (for now!), here are common problems we are hearing down in the counseling center and suggestions to help us all work through them.
“I’m feeling out of sync.”
School provides us with a very strict routine. First period always starts at 7:45. Midmorning happens every day from 10:13 to 10:23. Lunch always starts at 12:10...or 12:33...or 12:56. Okay, so maybe our routines at Shaker High School aren’t always strict – but with no bus to catch or homeroom to attend, our sleep schedules can quickly fall out of whack.
How to get back on track: It’s important to do our best to stay in a routine every day. It’s okay if your bedtime is later than usual and you sleep in, but consider waking up at the same time each morning. Studies have shown that waking up at the same time every day helps us sleep better at night, need fewer naps during the day, and perform better academically. Don’t forget, we may not have to be seated in our homerooms at 7:34AM, but we can still tune in every morning at 9AM to hear Mr. Couture and his family remind us that today is a great day to be a Bison (https://www.facebook.com/Itsagreatdaytobeabison).
“I’m going stir crazy.“
Being cooped up at home can bring us down and make us feel stuck. Aside from keeping us in a routine, going to school gives us the opportunity to get out of the house every single day. None of us – including your parents, counselors, and teachers – like to be told that we can’t leave our homes, even if we know reducing our contact with others is the right thing to do.
How to avoid feeling trapped at home: Schedule a time every single day to get out of your house, even if it’s only for 5 or 10-minutes. If you’re old enough to have your license, take a short drive. If you’re not or if you don’t have a car, go for a walk in the area where you live. Continue to engage in social distancing, but do so outside, which can break up the time we’re spending at home and reduce our stress levels.
“I haven’t seen my friends in weeks and I’m feeling lonely and isolated.”
Social distancing has had a huge impact on – you guessed it – our social lives. School provides us with an opportunity to see our friends and trusted adults 5-days a week for most of the year. Losing that ability to interact with others face-to-face can make us feel alone.
How to reconnect with others: I’m sure many of you are keeping up with your peers through social media, but I encourage you all to video chat whenever possible. Apps like FaceTime and Zoom, which allow us to see the people that we’re talking to, help us feel connected to others in ways that texting doesn’t. Don’t forget to ask your favorite dean, counselor, or teacher to talk too – even if you don’t want to talk about your homework. The entire Shaker High School team is here to help you in any way that we can.
“I’m feeling anxious about everything that’s going on in the world.”
“I’m feeling great that I can sleep in and don’t have to walk into the school building every day.”
That’s okay too.
“Wait – how am I supposed to feel right now?”
It’s important to know that however you’re feeling right now is okay. Some of us are going to feel anxious and afraid, while others may be trying to find the positive in the situation and feel good about being out of the school building. The important thing is to not be hard on ourselves and to avoid judgment. We are all doing the best we can to make it through, and there’s no wrong way to feel. Last but not least, don’t forget that no matter how you’re feeling, there is always someone available to listen. We’re all in this together, and soon enough we will all be back at Shaker trying to remember what 8 takes.
For more resources, check out the following website from your SHS Mental Health Team: https://sites.google.com/nccsk12.org/hsmentalhealthteam