The rapid Covid-19 outbreak has resulted in a state issued lock down; in order to preserve the safety of the people and decrease the spread of this deadly virus. Although staying at home has had a negative impact on a significant amount of people, for some teenagers, it has been a blessing.
A study by the Pew Research Center found that only 25 percent of teens spend time with friends in person (outside of school) on a daily basis. On average, 5% of teens suffer from a form of Social Anxiety Disorder which is also the third most prominent mental issue, globally. Teens tend to feel socially disconnected, despite being surrounded by a myriad of students and teachers at school. They might struggle to interact with their peers, or communicate during class. With that being said, staying home from school has proven to be quite helpful for some students.
“In some ways students who are more introverted and enjoy working at their own pace and are good at time management are doing very well,” said Mr. Kiang, a guidance counselor at Piscataway High School.
The initial news about schools closing was certainly a surprise to many, but those feelings changed overtime as they learned to adjust.
“There were mixed emotions in the beginning. I was happy that I didn’t have to wake up before the sun anymore… There’s certain things that I personally have benefited from quarantine. There’s things that have put me at ease, like not having to constantly wake up early and have loads of work coming home late in the evening after practices and clubs,” said Taimur Mirza, a rising senior at Piscataway High School.
Quarantine has proved to be peaceful for those who struggle with getting through a normal school day due to anxiety related to social interaction.
“Lock down has somewhat put me in a peaceful state of mind even with all this craziness going on,” said Emily Gorman, a rising junior at Piscataway High School.
Gorman reports that during in-person learning, she had a difficult time interacting with her peers, especially when confronted with large crowds.
“One of my struggles in terms of school are large groups of people, especially in the packed halls, it gives me this anxious feeling,” she said.
Social anxiety creates an intangible barrier which prevents students from reaching their full learning potential.
“I think it may have some benefits in the short run since students who struggle with social interaction can do their schoolwork without worrying about social dynamics,” said Mr. Kiang.
Emily describes that staying at home, away from school has opened up several opportunities for her and helped her focus on activities that she would not be able to partake in under “normal” circumstances.
“Some of the factors that have played an important role in improving my mental health is having the time to do things I enjoy like baking, painting and trying new makeup looks. They help me not overthink or focus on things that make me anxious,” Gorman said.
Lock down is not only our best bet at keeping ourselves safe but also the predicted norm for the next few months.
“Nobody said this would be easy, but no matter what anyone can feel about the circumstances, it will NOT make a difference in the current situation. The best thing to do is accept what’s going on and move to the next best thing,” said Mirza.
In times like these, change is inevitable but we must try our best to adapt and overcome by keeping a positive mindset and prioritizing safety.
“Try to make a routine as best you can, get outside for walks, bike rides, as vitamin D and fresh air is good for mental health. Also make sure to maintain social interaction with people you are close to even if it has to be done remotely. Try to see the benefits of being home and take advantage of things you could not do before- spend more time with family members and improve those relationships, explore a new hobby, learn something new (like cooking, sewing, etc.)” Mr Kiang advises.