Students suffer anxiety amidst difficult COVID-19 situation


Alice Petty

Increased connectivity gives students the chance to stay informed, but also leaves them at risk of anxiety.

Flint Frohman, Staff Writer

Ever since online school began and social distancing rules began to take effect, it has become harder and harder for many students to keep COVID-19 off their minds. For some students, this unique situation has created new sources of anxiety and stress.

All of the news about current issues can lead to increased amounts of anxiety, and there are many ways anxiety can manifest itself in students. “I think there is potential stress for students in a number of areas. First, there is stress about COVID-19 because it is a serious virus, and students worry about their own health but especially, the health of other family members.  Second, change is hard for most people, and this situation is no different.  There is stress with the abrupt change and transition from traditional schooling to EOS,” BSM’s Clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Steffenson said.

Staying home and continuing to learn in a new way can be a startling change for many. Beyond the virus, the actual act of staying at home and participating in online school can become a stressor for some students. “Third, there is stress with learning how to do online school for students because very few of them (or teachers for that matter)  have done this before. Fourth, there is stress related to staying at home all the time. Students can see their friends online, but it’s not the same as being there with them,” Steffenson said.

If you are feeling overwhelmed take a break from the news and social media and focus on schoolwork, taking a walk/run, talking to others, and doing other activities that make you happy and give you peace.

— Jeff Steffenson

The move from normal school to online school is jarring for some, but the experience differs person to person. There are some students who have adapted easily to the new norm. “I think each person is different.  Some students like being at home because it simplifies their lives, and they feel like they can manage things better. Other students feel isolated, lonely, and anxious and are missing their friends and being at school. Ironically, I have never heard so many kids state that they miss school,” Steffenson said.

Reading the news and media about COVID 19 too much can be unhealthy and cause uncomfortable amounts of anxiety for students, but there are ways to remain calm. “Yes, watching or reading the news and social media related to COVID-19 can be overwhelming and can cause anxiety for some students […] If you are feeling overwhelmed take a break from the news and social media and focus on schoolwork, taking a walk/run, talking to others, and doing other activities that make you happy and give you peace,” Steffenson said.

Knowing when to seek help can be difficult, but there are a few signs to look out for. “Feeling sad, angry or anxious most of the time. Abusing drugs, alcohol, food, or having to be in relationships to cope. You’ve lost someone important to you, something traumatic has happened to you or someone close to you. You’ve stopped doing the things that you normally like to do.  Painful emotions or experiences keep you from getting out and having fun or being with people,” Steffenson said.

There are a number of ways to find peace in this situation, and talking to other people and getting outside can be helpful for many. “Get outside yourself.  Help other people such as your family members and friends.  Every day, reach out to an individual who is not part of your inner circle to say hi. Figure out ways to help. Keep socially connected to people you care about and care about you,” Steffenson said.

Though the current situation can be stressful, many are more worried about people they know than themselves. “I would say the online school is now way less stressful than normal school, as the new schedule really helped with the daily workload and classes.   Currently I am not as worried for myself when it comes to Covid-19, but more my family/grandparents as I know they can be more susceptible to this,” 10th grader Elijah Vroman said.

One of the best ways to stay grounded during difficult times is to improve your mind and your body. Actions like exercise allow you to become more relaxed and open to the situation. “Embrace the change. […] Because everything is slowed down a bit, This is an awesome time to journal your thoughts about who you want to be, what you believe in, how you feel, etc….Exercise every day. Try mediation, mindfulness, yoga, walks in nature, reading, prayer, art, things that make you happy and bring you peace,” Steffenson said.

If you or someone you know does need help coping with the stress and anxiety of this situation, you should contact your counselor, Mr. Mike Jeremaiah, or Dr. Jeff Steffenson.