The Kids Are (Not) Alright: How Gen Z Is Coping With Anxiety During a Health Crisis

The Kids Are (Not) Alright: How Gen Z Is Coping With Anxiety During a Health Crisis

“I [feel] like the time I had left to enjoy and make memories…was stolen from me”



The future, at this point, looks bleak. Everywhere we look, reminders appear of how life has been impacted by the global crisis. For members of Gen Z, the prolonged lockdown means not having to experience the joys of many firsts like graduation, prom and other milestones


We talk to Macy Lee, an 18-year-old Psychology and International Relations freshman at the University of California, Davis and founder of Talang Dalisay. Because of quarantine, she’s had to move out of her dorm, say goodbye to her friends and still remain apart from her family back in Manila. Next is Luis Abesamis, a 20-year-old Behavioral Sciences major at the University of the Philippines Manila and aspiring researcher. As a senior in college, he’s had to deal with abrupt changes for what should be his graduating year as he transitions to life after school.


These students share how the coronavirus has completely disrupted life as they know it.


RELATED: COVID-19 Anxiety How To Take Care of Your Mental Health


Macy Lee

The Kids Are (Not) Alright: How Gen Z Is Coping With Anxiety During a Health Crisis


Wonder: What have your days been like lately? How are you passing time in quarantine?

Macy: My days have been pretty good! I have school until June, but I'm really loving my classes at the moment. Online learning was kinda hard at the beginning, but my professors have been trying their very best to make classes engaging for all of us. I honestly spend most of my time understanding everything I'm learning and taking more time for myself to give full effort in all my classes. Other than school, I've also been spending time catching up with friends from college and back home. I was really excited for spring quarter, but it's important to still make the most out of technology to connect with people. 


I've also tried a mix of doing nothing and being really productive work-wise! I think it's healthy for people to take time to relax and do work; basically alternating the two. For fun, I've binge-watched endless Korean dramas and new releases and also made a Tiktok account. I love Tiktok and all of its humor; it's definitely a stress reliever. I've also been catching up with my team for my organizations, rebranding and creating new ways for all of us to improve. 


W: How have you been feeling amid such uncertain times? Are there more instances when you're more anxious?

Macy: When quarantine started, I honestly felt really bummed out. I had to move out of my dorm and say goodbye to my friends. I was excited to make memories with people during spring quarter. I was also worried when classes [shifted] online because I never did a full online class in the past, and I didn't know how that was going to turn out. I also couldn't go home back to the Philippines. It made me feel a bit anxious at first because I didn't know what would happen. I also felt anxious because of the fact that I [wouldn't be] able to have a full college freshman experience.


In addition, I [feel] like the time I had left to enjoy and make memories during my freshman year was stolen away from me. I was worried that the relationships I built back in Davis would fade. But I made a deal [with] myself that I would do my part and try my best not to make that happen. 


W: What are ways you've been dealing with anxiety and stress?

Macy: I've been trying my best to look at my phone and computer less if it's not school-related! During the first few weeks of quarantine, I realized how much I had been looking at my phone and using it excessively. I tried making a schedule for myself on how long and when I should use it. 


Other than that, I try my best to get a healthy amount of human interaction every week with friends. I think it's important for us to take the initiative to reach out to people and see how they're doing. It's really refreshing to talk to people (especially those you haven't talked to in a while) and ask how they're doing! I realized it's important to show people you care. I tell my family back home and a lot of my friends that a lot. 


I think another important thing I've been doing to cope is [doing] a lot of self-reflecting. I like going on walks and runs outside to get fresh air, listen to music and just think about life. It sounds really cheesy, but it really, really helps. I like redirecting my anxious thoughts [towards making] plans and goals I can achieve through time, reminding myself that many things are temporary and there is much more to look forward to in the future. 


W: Let's talk about your advocacy! Care to share more about Talang Dalisay?

Macy: Yeah! I've been a mental health activist since I was 15-years-old. I was inspired to start a mental health initiative because of my brother who has autism. At a young age, I was exposed to other people like him in the spectrum, as well as teachers and therapists that helped my brother grow. However, I was also exposed to people who didn't empathize with people like him, and it inspired me to create a platform for people to learn more about autism and other mental health-related topics. That's how Talang Dalisay was bornin Tagalog it literally translates to “pure star” and is a registered non-profit run for and by the Filipino youth.


My team at Talang Dalisay does many projects to get youth and even adults involved in breaking the mental health stigma in the Philippines. In the past, we have done fundraisers to raise funds for mental health rehabilitation programs, educate special needs scholars, collaborate with countless other non-profits and create various online engagements. We have a dedicated and very hardworking executive team, and I am so so proud of them. Shout out to my co-executives, Sam and Javi, for always inspiring me along with all of the other directors and comm groups!


W: How has your organization been reaching out to the Filipino youth amid the pandemic, especially since it's Mental Health Awareness Month?

Macy: Talang Dalisay is up to many many things to help during the pandemic! We have a current fundraiser to help give goods to those in need. We will also be relaunching the Bayan1 project in two weeks with more payment options, like Paypal and G-cash! It will be posted soon on our new website, as well as our social media outlets so be sure to stay tuned for that! We hope you donate any amount, it would be much appreciated! 


Follow Talang Dalisay on Instagram. 


Luis Abesamis 

The Kids Are (Not) Alright: How Gen Z Is Coping With Anxiety During a Health CrisisWonder: What have your days been like lately? How are you passing time in quarantine?

Luis: These days, if I’m not busy working on my undergrad thesis, I am either in the kitchen working on a recipe from Bon Appétit or rereading Percy Jackson. It’s really important for me to continue to have that work-life balance. Even though I have a lot to work on for school, I still want to take this time to rest and stay healthy.


W: How have you been feeling amid such uncertain times? Are there more instances when you're more anxious?

Luis: To be honest, I feel overwhelmed most days. When I think about my thesis, life after graduation and how the world will be post-pandemic, there’s definitely a lot of uncertainty and doubt. There’s a lot going on in the world that we don’t fully understand, and I think that’s adding to the anxiety we’ve all been experiencing.


W: What are ways you've been dealing with anxiety and stress? 

Luis: I wish I could spend all this time at home processing how I’m feeling, but there’s still school work for me to do. Setting clear goals and boundaries for when it’s time to work and rest has been really helpful for me. Before the pandemic, I was the type of person to work myself out until I finished the job, so I’ve been trying to be kinder to myself.


W: As a senior in university, there are so many milestones that you've been looking forward to. How are you coming to terms with the fact that the coronavirus has completely upturned these?

Luis: Because of the pandemic, I’ve really had to rethink a lot of my plans for thesis, graduation and even post-grad activities like the board exam and applying to graduate schools. It definitely sucks that my last few months in UP turned out this way, but I’ve just been taking it day by day. There’s a lot we don’t fully understand and can’t control right now, so I’ve been focusing on the things I do understand and can control.


W: What are simple things you've been doing to feel a sense of normalcy?

Luis: I’ve always loved to cook and bake, so I’ve been taking over the kitchen more often. These days, it’s so important to stay healthy physically and mentally, so I’ve also been trying to build the habit of exercising and being more active each day. There have been a couple of Zoom calls and regular updates on social media with friends just to stay accountable and stay updated with each other’s lives. 



RELATED: Let’s Talk About Mental Health: How to Support the Supporter 


If you have stories to share with how the pandemic has changed your life, leave it in the comments below.



Art Matthew Ian Fetalver


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