Tips for Teens to FACE COVID
FACE COVID is a way to respond to the sometimes overwhelming flood of emotions you may experience in a crisis. Dr. Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, developed a simple reminder on what to do in those moments. After watching this brief video, try out the tips below and see what works for you!
F = Focus on what's in your control
There are things you can control (your actions, what you choose to focus on, your words) and things you cannot control (other people, the weather, what might happen in the future). You cannot magically control the natural feelings you may have of fear or anxiety, but you can control what you do in this moment; in the "here and now" focus on your behavior by choosing to do something. Here are only a few ideas:
- Listen to music, dance and sing.
- Take a shower or bath.
- Exercise – follow an exercise video, choose to do a plank or push up challenge.
- Play a game (old school board game with a family member, join an online scrabble, UNO, or monopoly game, of course video games may be an option!).
A = Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
- Your thoughts and feelings are a part of you, but they are only a part. They are our brain's way of giving us important information about our situation, but sometimes our brain hijacks our mind or body and we over think or get into a "fight or flight" mode. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings as pieces of information by:
- See your thoughts as a running neon sign, let them cross in and out of your mind
- Say, “I am noticing feelings of ________.”
- Say, “The thought of _________, just crossed my mind.”
- Write down your thoughts to get them out of you, and so you can see them separate from you. It makes it easier to take away how powerful our thoughts can feel.
C = Come back to your body
By coming back to your body, you’re empowering your ability to focus on what you can control - your body. It doesn’t mean that you must avoid or distract yourself from your thoughts and feelings. Rather, you’re reminding yourself that there are other parts of yourself that you can control. By doing something physical, you come back to your body and your sense of control.
Some examples are:
- Slowly pushing your feet into the floor to feel the ground beneath you.
- Pressing your fingertips together.
- Stretching your arms and neck.
- Shrugging your shoulders.
- Being aware of your breathing.
E = Engage in what you're doing
By engaging in what you are doing, you’re present and focused on whatever you happen to be doing at the time. You’re again empowering yourself by focusing on what you’re doing and what you can control instead of being "in your head" too much. Here are some examples:
- When you are cleaning your room, be aware of your senses in the moment. Notice 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, and if you are brave and even though it may be unpleasant, notice a few things that you can smell.
- When you are exercising, notice how your different muscle groups feel, notice your breathing, notice what you are seeing.
Whatever you are doing, bring your full attention to the activity by being aware of as many senses you can in the moment. Now that you have some tools to manage your thoughts and feelings, below are some tips for coping with COVID.
C = Committed Action
In order to have committed action, you must be clear on what’s important to you - namely, your values. When you’re solid with what is important to you, it makes it easier to do things that are hard. If your family is a value to you, you’ll work to make sure they are safe and healthy. By putting some time into clarifying your values, it will lead to committed actions you can take. Some examples:
- You value yourself, so you take actions to be healthy by working on a good sleep routine, physical activities, study time and eating right.
- You value your friends, so you keep in touch with them by texting, facetime, or playing video games online with them.
- Ask yourself throughout the day, "What can I do right now that align with my values and can improve my life, my family, or others in my community?
O = Opening up
Opening up means making room for the natural difficult feelings that are bound to come up during this time, all the while being kind to yourself. Being human means having feelings, and often times these feelings can be strong or unpleasant. Give yourself permission to be human, to be open to strong feelings, all while focusing on what you can control. You can control how you express your feelings and the actions you take. Making healthy choices is easier when you’re aware and accepting of your feelings, and when you’re aware of your values. Some examples:
You’re feeling bored and you value being healthy. It’s boring having to stay home for days and it’s okay to express it with your words (not yelling or picking a fight for entertainment reasons) to your family and friends. They are probably having similar feelings. Maybe you can brainstorm with them things to do together such as a home workout routine on YouTube.
You’re feeling scared and lonely and you value your family and friends. Call someone you trust and express how you’re feeling. Maybe just talking will help, or together you can think of something to do.
Remember to be kind to yourself for having these normal feelings, review your values, and find productive ways to channel your feelings into an activity like writing, painting, or exercising.
V = Values
Being aware and clear with what our values are is crucial to leading a healthy life. We cannot make ourselves happy, but often when we’re living a life based on values, a byproduct is happiness. Spend some time clarifying and writing down what your values are, so you can use them as tools to guide your actions and make healthy choices. For example:
- You value kindness – make efforts to say something kind to a family member or a friend. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself too.
- You value humor – make efforts to bring a smile to others by making a joke or doing something silly.
- You value caring – do something nice for someone without being asked like cleaning up the kitchen, making a meal, or organizing the pantry.
I = Identify resources
Identifying reliable and trustworthy resources for information as well as for support and advice is very important. We all have that friend who tends to exaggerate or blow things out of proportion. It is good to be updated on important information but be careful to overwhelm yourself with information.
Spend a few minutes once or twice a day to get information the way you are comfortable with – asking a trusted adult, watching a news program, going to a website.
This World Health Organization website is helpful. If you need more help with your thoughts and feelings and you would like to talk to a professional counselor, you can contact The Everett Clinic at (425) 339-5453.
D= Disinfect and distance physically
This is our main tool for limiting the spread of COVID-19. You can still have connections with others through technology. We can be "alone together" with our phones, computers, and gaming systems. Some examples of disinfecting and distancing:
- Disinfect surfaces with normal home cleaning supplies, especially high-touch areas like counter tops, doorknobs, and stair rails.
- Even though it’s really hard, try not to touch your face. Germs enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- The hardest of all is practicing social distancing. We all want to be with our friends, but because we value our friends, our family, and the community as a whole, we have to make this sacrifice so the virus will die out and not continue to spread. We’re all in this together and we will get through it.
Check out some additional helpful tools from Dr. Harris.
The Everett Clinic Behavioral Health Department is here for you. Behavioral Health (talk therapy) video visits are open to new patients with most commercial insurance. Please visit our website or call 425-339-5453 for more information and to schedule an appointment.
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