Everything's Canceled: Coping Tips Straight from a Psychologist

Video transcript

(light music)

- This whole coronavirus thing is pretty scary.

Worldwide hundreds of thousands of people are getting sick

and the death toll keeps rising.

The stock market is tanking.

People are losing their jobs.

You know, we're all stuck at home.

That's why I'm still shooting episodes on my phone,

in my apartment, with no production crew.

Social distancing, (laughs) right?

The only positive is that because I'm working from home

I don't have to wear pants.

I mean, I am wearing pants.

It's just knowing that I don't have to that's pretty cool.

Now I do realize that I am lucky

that I can work from home though

because a lot of people can't.

As a recent college grad myself,

it's weird to see how messed up school is right now too.

Most are closed in the U.S.

and they probably won't open open again this school year.

So you've got millions of students stuck at home.

Now, that doesn't just mean

that they have a really long spring break

and everybody's just chilling.

This is no vacation.

Uncertainty is cranked up to an 11.

The normal routine of going to class,

take a test, doing homework,

that's all out the window.

It's been replaced by new stressors like

family members who might get sick

or might have to work with people who are sick,

a parent losing a job.

Even more everyday stuff like SATs being rescheduled

or prom being canceled.

And access to guidance counselors

or school therapists to help deal with all those disrupters

aren't available now either.

So, how do you deal with so much uncertainty

in the time of corona?

To get a better sense of the uncertainty

that students are going through,

I thought, why don't I go ahead and talk to some students?

So, I had a video chat with a bunch of high schools

from the Bay area during the first week

of our stay at home work.

Most had been out of school for a week or two

and were still adjusting to their new reality

of spending everyday at the crib.

- I'm kind of stressed out about like, prom,

my graduation and even,

will I have to go to online school next semester

when I start college?

- My father has stage four colon cancer

and the treatment it takes a toll on your immune system

and so it is concerning to have my father go out

and not be able to distance himself socially,

just to, you know, support my family.

- How do you cope with the being alone with your thoughts

for this long?

Because I don't want to be on my phone,

but then sometimes I don't have motivation to do anything.

So, I'm just sitting around.

- How do we still stay optimistic?

How do we not worry about this almost postapocalyptic

world we're kind of, stumbled our way into with this virus?

- So how do we deal with all this uncertainty?

To figure that out I jumped on another video chat

with Natalie Todd.

She's a psychologist

who runs an adolescent mood and anxiety clinic

at The University of California, San Francisco.

How do you know when your anxiety is appropriate

to a situation?

You know what I'm saying?

- Look, this COVID is super new.

It's totally normal to feel anxious about the virus,

about the way it's impacting our life.

I think if someone is losing sleep over this

and having nightmares,

is not able to focus on their school work,

is avoiding talking to friends.

Any of those things I would say that maybe the anxiety

is impacting them in a way that it might be helpful

to check in with someone about

or talk to their parents about.

But I think some level of anxiety

around this is completely expected.

- I mean, I remember being a teen

and things that were most important to me at the time.

And it's just like I can't image,

you know,

not being able to potentially not go to my graduation

or not go to my prom or you know what I'm saying?

Not have the senior night or whatever it is.

You know what I'm saying?

So how would you tell students

or help them cope with potentially missing out on that?

- Yeah, I think that's really hard

and it's so up in the air.

I would say,

you know if it's reassuring to think about

the fact that's it's not gonna just be you.

That there is gonna be this generation of seniors

that are potentially missing graduation

and prom in the way that they usually happen.

Are there other ways that they can still celebrate

in small groups

or make new memories in new traditions?

- How do you respond to people that are like,

you know, corona's life or death?

So worrying about something like this is, you know,

graduation or prom is silly or unimportant.

How do you respond to that?

- I'm really glad you brought that up

because I can imagine that some teens might feel selfish

or self-centered that they're worried about those things

when there are people dying

and they're not the same and they're both valid.

They're both valid things to be worried about.

That's what teens are supposed to care about.

That is totally okay and normal.

- Dr.Todd gave me four general tips

on how to deal with all the worry

and anxiety that uncertainty can bring us.

Tip number one,

establish a routine.

Now, it doesn't have to be the same routine

you had when you were working

or going to school,

but you just got to keep a basic schedule of the stuff

you got to do. You know, when you're gonna go to sleep,

when you're gonna eat,

and when you're gonna get your work done.

But, don't forget to schedule time to you know,

just relax and talk to your friends.

That's just as important.

Maybe even more important.

Tip number two,

you got to reach out to people.

It sucks to not be able to hang out in person

with your friends,

but with technology, you can try to recreate those moments.

You know, you can face time over lunch.

You can have a karaoke or a dance party.

You know, the limits really don't exist anymore

since we're all in the house at the same time now. (laughs)

And tip number three,

and this is a great one,

if you're a worrier,

limit how much time you're spending reading

about the coronavirus.

It's fine to keep up to date

with the latest coronavirus news,

but don't just keep sitting there

and constantly refreshing your browser over and over again.

Me personally, I had to turn off my notifications.

You know, for all the news and Twitter, all that stuff.

I just turned it off.

And tip number four,

use the time you have to stretch yourself a bit.

Go online and learn that new language

that you hadn't had time before.

Order a pizza with pineapple and anchovies.

I mean, I'll totally judge you,

but it's your thing.

Go for it.

I mean, I'm personally gonna just work on my baking skills.

I have time.

I have all the ingredients.

I'm about to go crazy.

You're in for a treat.

- The question that I've been asking all the teens

I work with is, you know,

what is the potential silver lining here?

How can you make lemonade from these COVID lemons?

- All right, that's all I got for you for now.

Let us know how uncertainty is effecting your life

and if any of Dr.Todd's tips seem helpful.

Also, what are you doing right now to take care of yourself?

Are you coloring by numbers?

Are you petting cute dogs?

Are you learning to yodle?

Tell us in the comments below

and remember we're all in this together

and we'll get through it together.

Take care of yourself and each other.

I'm your host, Myles Bess.

Until next time everybody.

Peace out.