The isolation of the pandemic took a toll on global mental health, but for many of us, the mandatory break had some mental health benefits as well. It gave us an opportunity to hit ‘pause,’ spend more time focusing on self-care and enjoy some much-needed rest time. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that for teenage girls particularly, the shutdowns actually provided some relief from depression, anxiety, and stress.
The researchers conducted a study based on the diaries of 93 teenage girls in March and April 2020. Many girls did report heightened anxiety and depression levels, especially when struggling with online classes, but the study also found that the lack of extracurricular activities allowed for more time spent with family and engaging in healthy and creative activities they otherwise wouldn’t have time for.
The pandemic experience has been different for everyone based on location, family dynamics, lifestyle, and age, but this study sheds new light on the negative mental health implications that intense extracurricular schedules can have on teens who see these activities as mandatory for rounding out their college and job applications. The researchers note that most of their subjects were from middle and high-income families, so results would likely be different with a more comprehensive subject pool.
“There’s just increasing expectations for adolescents to be the top in everything they do,” said study lead Jennifer Silk. “We really need to think about finding ways to reduce some of these school- and achievement-related pressures.
Source study: Journal of Pediatric Psychology – Storm Clouds and Silver Linings: Day-to-Day Life in COVID-19 Lockdown and Emotional Health in Adolescent Girls