I recently came across an article by Andreas Kluth, one of my favorite columnists, explaining how the prevalence of anxiety and depression in young adults over the past 6 months has climbed through the roof.
As COVID-19 uprooted any budding life plans young adults had been nursing, America’s national anxiety rates tripled compared to 2019 (from 8.1% to 25.5%). In Britain, depression rates have nearly doubled, from 9.7% of adults before the pandemic to 19.2% in June.
“Perhaps more pertinently, older adults had already built their lives before the pandemic — with routines, structures, careers and relationships to fall back on. The young had not, and were just embarking on that adventure when Covid-19 struck.”
— Andreas Kluth
Even in the best of times, young adults aren’t exactly considered pillars of emotional stability, which is why learning to take care of your mind during these perduring times is as equally important as taking care of your body.
The question is: how?
1. Preparation is key.
Remember dodgeball in grade school? Specifically, when you’d lose your focus for a quick second and end up getting wickedly whipped in the face by a rubber ball?
2020 is the dodgeball that caught us all off guard and smacked us right in the face, leaving a sting we have yet to rub off.
However, we can learn from this: preparing yourself for a future turn of events and creating a flexible schedule that can take cancellations into account is the best way to reduce your anxiety levels.
2. Routines are the gateway to mindfulness.
Keeping things as consistent as possible helps you focus on what you can actually control, like your schedule and your stress. Routines set the tone for your day and help you navigate uncertainty, giving you a solid foundation to fall back on when your thoughts are all over the place.
Since every habit you’ve had PCE (pre-COVID era) has been nipped in the bud, it’s important to find new healthy ones to latch onto. Even with the announcement of successful vaccine trials, we’re not out of the dark — therefore, the time to adapt is now.
People naturally seek connection and comfort from others, which explains why losing the privilege of social presence made it even harder for us to cope with our thoughts.
Keeping yourself prepared with creative ways to stay in touch with friends and family not only reassuring, but it allows you to lean on your surroundings to navigate your emotions and life changes.
Don’t forget to keep in mind that balance is key with social technology — too much is just as bad as not enough.
4. Consult a professional.
No one is better equipped to give you the guidance you need than a licensed professional. Type up a quick Google search in order to find qualified psychologists or counselors in your area that would be a perfect fit for your needs, and don’t hesitate to do so when things just don’t feel right.
Sometimes, a little counsel from someone who can shed a different light on our troubles is enough to give us the lift we need.
It is only logical to brace ourselves — the end is not necessarily near. Our future remains entirely uncertain, even with a vaccine in sight.
You see, this year taught me I only have control over 2 things in my life: my thoughts and my actions. Young adult or not, I don’t have to have everything put together all the time and that’s OK. Things aren’t always easy, but I have the power to adapt.
And the main thing I need to do is to take care of my mind — the rest will follow.