I don’t know about a lot of other kids, but I actually miss school. Right now, I’m kind of having that pre-midsummer vacation sort of feeling. Nostalgic for school even though the school year isn’t over yet. The Coronavirus pandemic that’s currently a threat, makes me, and I’m sure many others feel frightened and distressed. Everyone I know is feeling uneasy and uncertain, and people that struggle with their mental health, such as myself feel extra worn out and stressed.

Oftentimes, when something happens it doesn’t affect us but this hits too close to home.

Missing school because of the Coronavirus makes it seem even more real. I feel as though my life has been turned upside down. School is something that has always remained consistent in my life and many other teens’ lives. Heck, we’ve had to go to school when we’re bleary-eyed and sleepy, in some of the chilliest days of winter, and the most scorching hot days of summer. It feels surreal that many of us will have to miss school for weeks and practice social distancing because of a virus! Missing school may seem like a gift, but missing school for so long isn’t as exciting. Many of us are missing out on our education. Several students have AP Exams to take later in the year. Seniors are missing out on their final year of high school experiences like prom and senior pranks. The Coronavirus isn’t something that we can control, but it’s important to try and control how we respond to this challenging time in our lives and that we take care of ourselves and our mental health.

I think all of us have established in the first couple of days of self quarantining that social distancing is tough.

We are so used to seeing our friends and loved ones every single day, and the fact that we can’t is terrifying and isolating. It’s crucial to remember that social distancing DOES NOT mean disconnecting from all of your friends. This only means we can’t see our friends in person to hang out with them. Texting and talking over the phone is okay and is a lot safer than getting together. It feels like the world is ending because what we do every day seems to be falling apart, but it’s important to realize that our friends – the people that make us happy and help us stay calm – are still there even though you can’t see them in person. What I’ve found that has helped with my anxiety and lonely feelings is calling, texting, and keeping in touch with my friends through social media.

Taking care of yourself during this trying time is very important.

Prioritize your mental health and well-being. Focus on yourself, staying healthy, and getting through this. We may not be able to control this situation, but we can control how we choose to handle it. What I’ve found to be helpful is trying to distract myself and keep myself busy. Look on the bright side of this and think about what you are gaining – this is the perfect time to do the things that you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time to do! I’ve read books, watched movies, braided my hair, painted my nails, baked, and have sent snail mail to a friend.To help me stay motivated, I planned out what I would like to do for the day and do my best to achieve it. I’ve taken care of my mental health by texting my therapist even though we can’t meet in person. I’ve limited how much of the news I view since it gives me even more anxiety. The bottom line is, the best way to take care of yourself is by distracting yourself. Try to think about the things that you can do rather than what you can’t.

While practicing social distancing, try and use this time to educate others since many of us aren’t in school.

Remind others to put their mental health first. Make sure you educate others about the importance of social distancing and practice it too. Above all, be kind and remind others that one’s struggles can become worse during difficult times such as these, so it’s important to communicate and be there for each other.

Don’t let the Coronavirus get the best of you. We can and will find the light at the end of this tunnel.

Safia Khan, sophomore at Hinsdale South High School

The team at Erika’s Lighthouse knows how challenging and difficult this transition is on our teens, educators, parents and others. We are here to help and support our young people. We have launched an exciting new campaign that will provide meaningful, practical resources for teens, educators and parents.