OPINION

A young person's guide to getting through lockdown - one step at a time

This year has been tough on young people.

The ongoing effects of the pandemic have hit us even harder than other age groups.

Already at an important point in our lives, COVID-19 has disrupted the way we study, work and socialise - and separated us from the people, places and things that make us feel good.

It's totally normal for young people to feel upset, listless or lonely right now.

At the start of 2021, I moved away from home to study at university. But not long after the start of semester one, the campus closed and classes moved online.

Suddenly, things I took for granted were no longer possible: visiting friends and family, going to a restaurant or the shops, or studying in the library.

What's helped me during this challenging time is remembering there are small steps I can take each day to support my mental health.

Something as simple as spending time outdoors in the sunshine has the power to make me feel a bit better.

Playing my guitar and singing works wonders to take my mind off what's worrying me.

The same goes for crocheting or watching a series on Netflix.

Even setting aside time to practice relaxation can be a big help.

You might be wondering how steps this small can help your mental health.

But the truth is, every little thing you do to feel good can make a difference.

After a while, all these little steps build up so you feel strong and resilient in challenging times, like lockdown.

These are tools I have learned from living with my own mental health challenges and that I talk about a lot in my role as a headspace Youth National Reference Group member.

The other important step I've learned from my mental health journey is to talk to people about how I feel.

This can mean seeking support from a service like headspace, or just touching base with the people I love.

During lockdown, I've tried lots of different ways to remain connected to loved ones, from phone calls and FaceTime chats, to online trivia nights and virtual baking sessions.

Sure, nothing replaces spending time with family and friends face-to-face.

But these alternatives are an important way to keep us connected until we can meet again in-person.

And that time is coming! Young people having a hard time need to know there is hope - that things will get better and that their future is bright!

By taking small steps today, we can reach that future feeling happier and healthier.

Abbie Clyne is a member of the headspace National Youth Reference Group.

This story A young person's guide to getting through lockdown - one step at a time first appeared on The Canberra Times.