CALEXICO — The COVID-19 pandemic, and the stress and anxiety that goes along with it, is just another life battle that will soon pass.
This is the message that Dalia Pesqueira of Imperial County Behavioral Health Services shared with local teenagers Friday during an online video presentation.
Pesqueira’s nearly hour-long presentation focused on explaining to teens how they can reduce stress and anxiety related to pandemic.
Pesqueira is a licensed clinician and the program supervisor for ICBHS’ Youth and Young Adult Program.
She has previously presented tips to promote mental health in the city of Calexico’s series of weekly videotaped announcements used to update the public about COVID-19–related issues.
Camarena Memorial Library invited her to give a similar presentation on mental health aimed specifically at teens.
She gave the presentation in both English and Spanish inside the library, and it was livestreamed on the library’s Facebook page at 10:30 a.m.
Although she was addressing teens, Pesqueira pointed out the information was relevant for all ages.
During the presentation, the clinician reminded teens they have experienced life battles before and that the pandemic was just one more battle they will soon overcome.
She also said it is normal to have a certain level of stress — especially during a pandemic.
When that stress, however, is affecting different areas of one’s life in a negative way, then it is time to take action.
Pesqueira mentioned that many teens may be feeling down because of the school closures related to COVID-19.
She explained that, if the first thought that a teenager has in the morning is, “I don’t want to Zoom with my teacher; there’s no point because I’m not going anywhere or learning anything,” then it needs to be addressed.
Instead of thinking no actual work is being done or there’s no point since the online assignments won’t be graded, Pesqueira recommended thinking of the experience in a different way.
Online schooling should be seen as, “Maybe I will get credit; maybe I’ll learn something, or, at least, it’s going to pass my day,” she explained.
This reframing of negative thoughts can have a positive effect on one’s mental health, and in turn, reduce stress and anxiety, Pesqueira said.
“At the end of the day, it’s up to you and how you’re going to manage your day as much as possible,” she said. “Negative thoughts sometimes are difficult to stop, but are you making any effort to make it stop? Or are we ignoring it? That’s what we have to figure out, and what we’re willing to do to make it better.”
A tip Pesqueira gave teens stuck at home a majority of their day is to create a schedule. That schedule should contain tasks to complete throughout the day.
“It’s important to feel satisfied with your day, that you’re completing goals: Homework, cleaning or a new project,” she said.
While it is tempting to sleep late and get up late since school is not in session, she advised teens to avoid doing so.
“That is going to affect your mood, so please look into your schedule and try to adjust as much as possible,” she said.
She also advised teens to limit their time watching the news and being on social media.
“Not everything in the news is a fact, and not everything on social media is important,” Pesqueira said. “So please make sure that what you’re reading is helpful to your day, and not detrimental and not hurting you.”
Looking at the bigger picture during this time can be helpful to one’s mental health, she said.
For example, teens now know how to do independent studies at home because of the pandemic.
Additionally, teachers now know how to teach from their homes, and a majority of senior citizens now know how to use technology.
“Those are the new tools that we can use,” Pesqueira said. “The old ones and the new ones; try to put them together in a whole bag, so that whenever you need them, you can pull out and use them.”