5 Tips for 20-somethings During the Pandemic
Are you a young professional who struggles with anxiety, low mood or burnout?
Do you feel lonely and isolated, finding it difficult to see family or find ways to meet new people during the pandemic?
Do you feel like you could use a supportive outlet for coping with stress?
You are not alone.
This is your 20s. The time you thought you would get to travel to new places, start your career, and meet your people. Then the world shut down. The job that you just got the hang of you are now doing from home – the very same place you sleep, eat, exercise and “relax”. Or maybe that job got taken away and you find yourself back with family, feeling like you are in a time capsule traveling backwards in time.
Before the pandemic, your 20s was already a time full of transition and change. A time when developmentally you have an urge to fit in, find acceptance and feel connected. That urge is real and it is valid. You are human and the desire to connect only makes you more so. When we connect to others, we learn more about ourselves, our values and the types of relationships we want in our life. It is common to battle an internal dialogue of “Will I be accepted?” and challenging that narrative feels harder than ever before.
Who can I connect with that understands what I am experiencing?
Everyone else seems busy with their own lives and has so much else going on.
I don’t want to burden them with my stuff.
How do I meet new people if I am exhausted at the end of each day?
How will I have the energy to start up a conversation or put myself out there again?
How many times can I text the same person and get the same answer.
Where can I connect safely during this time?
The last year has filled us with feelings of frustration, loss, loneliness and disconnection. By acknowledging our feelings, we can begin to work to change our reality.
If you are a young professional and feeling disconnected, here are some things to try:
Set a new routine.
Sleep. Work. Eat. Repeat. Did I shower or change my clothes today? When was the last time I put on an OOTD and took a selfie? If this feels familiar, it may be time to break the cycle.
Notice the things from your previous routine that no longer show up for you day to day.
Try getting dressed up or getting ready as if you are going to leave the house.
Get in your car and do a loop around the block and put on your “going to work” playlist.
Set up a regular time to reach out to friends as if you were driving home from work.
Did you used to walk and talk with colleagues or walk on your lunch break to run an errand? Those breaks are needed now more than ever. Take them.
For all those apple watch fans, match the steps you used to take when you were not at home or split the difference between then and now.
Whatever you choose to do, increasing the amount of movement in your day can lead to improved mood.
Do three things each day just for you.
Research shows we can improve our mood by building positive activities that lead to positive emotions.
Pick three things that are accessible and accomplishable. You don’t have to run five miles to begin to feel positive emotions.
With intention, pick activities you CAN do daily that are just for YOU, and that you can participate fully in the experience.
Say “You are doing okay today”.
Listen to your favorite song.
Look at the moon.
Make pour over coffee or tea.
Take a hot (or cold) shower.
Light your favorite candle.
Step outside and breathe in and out.
Take a walk and notice what is green and what is blue.
Complete a crossword puzzle.
Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself.
Consider honesty, kindness and compassion.
Embrace yourself for living rather than criticize yourself for imperfection. Remember, imperfection is human.
Give voice to the positives. Yes, difficult things are happening all around us. And what else is true? Lean into experiences that allow you to feel okay, neutral or joyful.
Practice compassionate self-talk. Another word for practice is rehearse. Rather than evaluating success or failure, consider that these rehearsals of compassionate self-talk will offer experience and growth.
Let it out.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou
Journal via free association – express the content of your consciousness without censorship. You can type or write this out. And then delete it or rip it up and throw it out (a bonus release!). The only goal here is to express, not analyze.
Verbal journal while you take a walk. Talk aloud to yourself. Put earbuds in if you need to. Verbalize outwards what is already occurring internally.
Set up an Emoji signal for support.
It can be extremely hard to say “I need you right now. There is a lot going on and I’m feeling lonely.” When we are experiencing the visceral emotions of anxiety, depression or loneliness, it may seem a lot easier to isolate. By isolating, we create more distance from those in our life that are there to support us.
Set up an emoji sign ahead of time with the individuals in your life to let them know when you are in need of support without having to say it. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Ask a few people.
Use humor and honor your vulnerability. You are going outside of your comfort zone and setting up a plan to increase your support system and connection. That takes courage. Honor that courage.
Here at Think Happy Live Healthy, we are starting a virtual group to build connection and a community of support for young professionals.
Email us firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining or find something similar locally near you.