Desperately searching for peace of mind

By Amani Rivers

William Penn High School

Wake up, eat breakfast, join Zoom meetings.  Eat lunch, join more Zoom meetings, sleep.

Ditto the following day and the remaining days of any given week.

 This happens to be a typical schedule for most Philadelphian high school students who have been confined to their homes during the global pandemic. For many, it can be stressful to wake up and go through the same uneventful routine each day.

 “People think online school is easier than the actual experience,” said Anthony Rivers Jr., a junior at LaSalle College High School. “In reality, I would rather wake up every morning and spend eight hours in a building with 500 people rather than spending eight hours in my room in front of a computer screen.”

Amani Rivers, a junior at William Penn, working virtually from home. A student’s bedroom often doubles as a classroom during the pandemic. / Photo Provided by Amani Rivers

 High school is an important part of adolescence.  It’s not only vital to a student’s academic success and future, but it’s also vital to their social development. There is a stark difference between sitting in a classroom as opposed to sitting in front of a computer screen.  This difference can result in a lack of participation, enthusiasm, and overall growth.

Mali James-Gordon, a junior at Penn Charter, says she feels less confident when asking teachers questions during online meetings.  “Online, it feels like the attention is fully on you and I get worried that what I’m saying is wrong, so I would rather sit back and just listen.”

 Recent studies have suggested that high school students in quarantine are beginning to suffer from mental-health issues.

“People think online school is easier than the actual experience,” said Anthony Rivers Jr., a junior at LaSalle College High School. / Photo provided by Amani Rivers

In recent months, this has become a dominant topic on social media as students express their feelings about the disruptions COVID-19 has created in their daily lives.

“Everyone used to stay organized, did their homework, and didn’t procrastinate, and now [you] go on [your] phone during classes. … [We’ve] stopped normal habits, don’t feel like hanging out with people, and just sleep/go on your phone all day,” wrote one TikTok user.  

Such practices point to early signs of depression, anxiety, and other emotional disorders. Many teenagers are feeling anxious and depressed due to the pandemic, and the stress and anxiety that come along with school closures have made matters worse.

So how can students find peace and stay mentally healthy in these uncertain times?

 Here’s how Gabbi Polite, a student at Penn Charter, deals with her negative feelings: “I make playlists of my favorite songs because it’s really relaxing, and of course, I keep in touch with my friends through Facetime or texting.”

Gabbi Polite, a student at Penn Charter High, has found creative ways to deal with negative thoughts. / Photo provided by Gabbi Polite

 Perhaps the most important thing to do to take your mind off stress is to talk with someone. Whether it is a mental-health professional, a parent, a helpline, or even your pet, it’s important to address your feelings and try to avoid negative thoughts. 

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