Emerging Adults: How You Can Reset During Covid-19
If you fall within the age of 18-25, you are in the exciting years of a group called emerging adults.3 You probably have already realized that this period can be both challenging and rewarding. Navigating school, extra-curricular activities, possible job demands, and relationships can feel exhausting even in the best of times. With our recent COVID-19 outbreak, you may be feeling more extreme emotions than usual. Grieving traditional classroom learning, social activities, in-person church services, and major milestone events that have been cancelled is normal. It is OK to be feeling this way! You are not alone! Typical emotions during a high-stress time can have a huge range, and the following are just a few examples of how you may be feeling:
Sadness, Worry, Frustration, Anger, Resentment, Confusion, Disconnected, Grief, Withdrawn, Depressed, Anxious, Irritable, Overwhelmed, Longing, Jealous, Lost
Acknowledging these feelings is the first step. It is ok to accept them and work through them. Pretending they are not there may make them more prominent. It is important to allow these feelings, process them, and then make the necessary changes to find a healthy path forward. The following tips will help YOU RESET as you deal with the many disruptions in your life caused by COVID-19:
- Y Yourself—Many people forget to take care of themselves during difficult times. Self-compassion and self-care are important elements in everyday living. Practice some self-care each day by doing what you enjoy in order to destress. Examples: walk in nature, play with your pet, cook your favorite food, meditate or practice breathing (using an app such as Calm), draw, paint, craft, take a nap, read a book, watch your favorite show.
- O Others—It is easy to withdraw and isolate, especially during mandated stay-at-home orders. Remain connected to positive friends and other encouraging people in your life such as professors and coaches. Employ your generation’s technically savvy skills to use FaceTime, Discord, Zoom, texting, etc. to stay close to your support network.
- U Upend Perfectionism and Comparison2—Perfectionism is a trap. It is an aspiration that can never be attained and can lead to feeling paralyzed by procrastination, frustration, and burn out. It is important to put your best work forward, but sometimes “good enough” is a better goal. In addition, comparison to others can leave one feeling inferior, especially as it relates to social media. The only person worth comparing to yourself is you.
- R Reframe Critical Self-Talk—At times we all resort to seeing negativity in ourselves. Over time this can develop into patterns that are detrimental to our wellbeing. Explore what you think about and say to yourself. Does it tend to be overly negative and defeating? If so, work to identify the positives in yourself and your abilities. To help you get started, make a list of things you like about yourself and your abilities. It can also be helpful to replace negative self-talk with a positive mantra such as “I can do this.”
- E Evaluate Distorted Beliefs1—We may have irrational thoughts about our circumstances. If anxious thoughts lead to overwhelming fears, evaluate whether those fears are rational. Challenge those beliefs by looking at the evidence and facts. Sometimes what we imagine could come true isn’t based in logic. Don’t let your worries trick you into blowing things out of proportion.
- S Show Gratitude—One of the antidotes to depressive feelings is gratitude. Think of ways to express thanks to people or keep a gratitude journal. Writing down 3 things that you are thankful for every day can result in a more positive outlook and mood.
- E Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep—Taking care of your physical health relates to your mental health. There are a variety of exercise apps and YouTube videos that are easy to access. Eating properly and getting the recommended hours of sleep (7-9 hours) will improve relationships, mood, and focus.
- T Transition to New Plans and Goals—We cannot ignore how COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our lives. Cancelled or postponed graduations, sports seasons, art performances, and transitioning to a virtual classroom have taken their toll on our emotions. We find ourselves being forced to let go of our plans and timelines; we are learning to be flexible. Kanuki Kaneshiro once said, “A tree that is unbending can be broken in a storm.” Adapting to change is not easy but is necessary. Take this opportunity to revisit your goals and revise how you can achieve them. Make sure to break goals down into small measures that you can accomplish. Then celebrate your mini successes each step of the way!
One of the best ways for YOU to RESET may seem counterintuitive—focusing on others. Think about society and the greater good. Not only is giving back a responsible thing to do, it can alleviate depressive symptoms. It feels wonderful to be a part of something bigger than yourself and/or give to another human being. Think creatively during this COVID-19 pandemic and ask yourself how you can make a difference. There are many areas of need such as assisting the elderly or immune compromised—those who are at higher risk. Utilize the gifts that are unique to you; nobody else has your exact combination of God-given strengths to offer others. Remember—YOU are valuable!
If You Need Professional Help
We all have times when seeking professional help is necessary. If you feel at risk in any way, do not hesitate to use the following resources:
- For immediate help: Call 911 for a life-threatening emergency
- 24-Hour Crisis Line 1-866-427-4747
- Washington Suicide and Crisis Hotline 1-800-784-2433, 1-800-273-8255
- Washington Recovery Helpline (substance abuse and mental health) 1-866-789-1511
- Burns, D. D. (1993). Ten days to self-esteem: The leader’s manual. Quill/HarperCollins Publishers.
- Edberg, H. (2017). How to improve your self-esteem: 12 powerful tips. Retrieved from http://www.positivityblog.com/improve-self-esteem/
- Lane, J. (2014). Counseling Emerging Adults in Transition: Practical Applications of Attachment and Social Support Research. The Professional Counselor. Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 30–42.