By: Michelle Ramierez Armendariz, Children’s Minnesota Marketing and Communications intern and high school junior.
As distance learning becomes the normal, separating time for school, after school clubs, work, family, friends and personal time becomes a challenge. The more time I spend virtually learning the easier it is to figure out a schedule that works for me.
Finding time to unwind
Life as a high schooler during the pandemic is busy. Between my advanced placement (AP) classes, working at the mall and extracurricular activities, my days are full. I quickly realized I needed to add other routines in my day.
A few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, I started to feel drained and stressed out with the amount of homework I was receiving. I decided to start meditating to take a moment for myself and just breathe.
I meditate for 20 minutes to reflect over my day, how I felt, and what I can do to maintain that state or change it. Meditation helps me balance my emotions and have a clear mind when I feel like there’s a million thoughts racing through my head. It gives me a moment to relax and take a break from thinking. Meditating has helped me feel lighter and avoid burn out.
Being sort of alone, not seeing your friends and having schoolwork, can really drain you and make you feel like you don’t have time for anything. Balancing time and space between school and home gets a bit hard but, I have found ways to navigate that.
As you’ve read, I took up meditating to relax and just focus on the energy that I have. I truly do believe it’s helped so much with my mental and emotional state and not feeling overworked.
Staying active and energized
I also try to walk my dog as often as I can, but I won’t lie, it’s harder now that it’s cold out. Instead, I play with her and try to get moving. Moving your body helps especially after you’re staring at a screen from the moment you wake up and sitting for a long period of time.
On days that I stayed up late the previous night or feel depleted, I take a quick 30-minute nap. I have taken up painting on canvases or paper and coloring as well. It frees your mind and distracts you. You don’t have to be “good” at drawing to paint or color, just do what you want to do. Just plug in your headphones with your favorite music, the painting can be a beautiful sunset or just pops of colors being mixed. I watch some videos or my favorite show to disconnect from school. Even if it might seem boring, pick up a book and read.
Work, family and friends
Even if I am basically seeing my family every day doesn’t mean I have much time that I get to spend with them. When I do have time, it’s when I get to eat with them or watch a movie.
I try to make my conversations with my dad and mom more fulfilling than just the simple, “My day was OK.” I go deep into describing my day and what I did for class and ask them how they are doing. If we run out of things to say, I ask them for a childhood story even if I’ve heard it a million times.
I also try to spend time with my little sister by playing games or just a simple conversation where I ask how she’s doing, or she asks me questions like, “Why can fish breathe under water?” Family is very important, especially now that I am around them way more than I used to be, I want to take advantage of that and spend as much time as I can with them before I go off to college.
As we fight this pandemic, I really have missed my friends and didn’t realize how school brought us together every day. I miss laughing, joking and simply just enjoying my friends being right next to me. Now, we text almost every day in our group chat and send funny videos to each other. When I do have time, I FaceTime my friends individually to check up on them and simply just laugh.
I have been able to see my friends but, of course, socially distanced and wearing masks. Making time for friends becomes harder to do as we are all busy and don’t want to act like there isn’t a virus spreading.
It’s important to have good grades, but also to feel good and take some time to socialize. Yes, school is a top priority but so are you.
You need to take time for yourself and the people you care for. Talk to a school counselor, an adult, or friend if you ever do feel like you aren’t doing OK. There isn’t a problem without a solution. The sooner you figure out something that works for you, the sooner you’ll feel better. Just remember it takes time and patience to get back on track. Do what makes you feel happy and healthy.