Remember: Keep calm, stay safe and remain positive

The sudden and unprecedented changes that Coronavirus and the lockdown period imposed on everyone are likely to have left many young people feeling uncertain about the future.

For some, this will be a fear of a second lockdown, for others it will be a general sense that things that used to feel safe and predictable, such as school, may no longer be something they can rely on.

Many teenagers had their GCSEs, A-Levels or other exams cancelled because of the pandemic. As exams can cause stress and anxiety, for some, this might bring some relief and leave them feeling happier and healthier with less strain on their mental health.

For others, however, it will have caused a lot of upset. Young people have worked extremely hard and made a lot of sacrifices. Not being able to sit their exams and receive their final results can cause a lot of stress and anxiety as it might impact on university and college choices and of

course, their future.

It will be a good thing to keep reminding them their hard work is never wasted. To always be proud of how far they’ve come and to celebrate their achievements. This situation is tough but it doesn’t make them or their hard work worth any less.

For many, the gradual easing of lockdown brings longed-for opportunities (even if at a social distance) to see friends, family, play sports or get back to work. But for others, even the happy, anticipated changes can be difficult for their mental health.

The prospect of coming out of lockdown when debate is still live about the science supporting it can be a real worry for so many. This may especially apply to those more vulnerable to the virus and those with mental health conditions.

Over a lengthy period of social distancing, friendships may have become strained or deteriorated. Many young people will have communicated with friends over social media, while others will have had little contact with their peers.

As peer groups are an important source of support for young people, this may mean that many will have lacked a vital source of support in managing the stresses of the lockdown period and this may continue on the return to school.

We should be prepared for the fact that the end of lockdown might be just as hard as the start. Just as it took us time to find ways of coping during lockdown, we should also expect that it will take time to find our way back and reconnect with life.

Feelings of worry, anxiety and concern will be mixed with relief and excitement.

It’s important to acknowledge that these feelings are reasonable and to expect them. It’s only by gently building up intolerance that we can move through these fears.

BulliesOut has lots of helpful downloads, including a Gratitude Journal, that may be useful for young people and help them focus on the positives in their lives visit: bulliesout.com or email them directly at: [email protected] for more info.

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