By Rachel Rubenstein, LCSW

Summer 2020 will not be a typical summer. With a second wave of COVID-19 likely still to come, we are faced with uncertainty, isolation, and let’s face it, scary times. Lots of teens are wondering, “Do I wear a mask?” “Can I see friends?” ”What about school in the fall?”

Many teens and parents are telling me they are concerned about the summer, hopeful for the fall, and feeling a bit “blue.” We all want to be back doing life like we used to — back at restaurants, stores, the pool, and mostly; closer than 6 feet apart from friends. This is a tough time to keep ourselves physically safe and emotionally well. So what is a Teen to do? How do you stay Teen Strong?

Five real-world suggestions to help calm anxiety and keep positive:

  1. Stay in Touch: Even as we keep 6 feet apart, remember there are many other ways to connect. We might be alone but we are together in our aloneness! Humans are social beings, not meant to be isolated — unless there is a pandemic! Be creative in how you can connect. Use social media or video chat (free through to “be” with friends and family. Seeing a friendly face digitally can do wonders for our mood… even more sometimes than just a voice on the other end. Try a “D-dinner Party” (digital dinner with friends), hang at the pool with friends on Facetime, or get really creative and try a heartfelt letter through old-fashioned snail mail! Keeping up your friendships can alleviate anxiety and lift your mood.
  2. Specifics on Facts: Be aware of what is happening in our world. Knowledge can help calm anxiety, but getting accurate information from reliable sources is important. The Centers for Disease Control ( is a great place to learn what is safe, along with tips to keep you healthy. Stay in the know, but also limit the amount of news you feed yourself. Be informed but be cautious about information overload — the world can be an anxiety-provoking place.
  3. Self-Care: Take care of your own mental and physical health by eating nutritious food, exercise a bit, sleep enough — but not too much and try adding in calming activities like meditation or reading. Not feeling your best physically can impact our Mental Health as well.
  4. Set Your Mind-Set: Human beings are meaning making machines…that is, we observe, experience, and judge (i.e. we make a meaning out of a situation). It’s the old glass half full/half empty idea of how we perceive the world. What is the story you are telling yourself about the pandemic? Yes, it is scary. Yes, we need to be cautious and responsible. Maybe, we can take this quiet time to do something new and different? Learn a new skill like how to play an instrument, read a book series, try your hand at painting or even clay. Spend time with yourself. Sometimes, slowing down can be a great experience. What are you telling yourself about summer 2020? Maybe you can change that story to something more positive and easier to manage. Try it, it can work!
  5. Self Awareness: Know when to reach out for support; a trusted family member, friend, or professional can really be helpful for talking things out and getting a new perspective. These are stressful times for many of us. Reaching out for assistance is a sign of Mental Health Wellness and strength. You’ve got this!


Rachel Rubenstein is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with over 20 years of experience providing mental health wellness services. Rachel is an EMDR trained provider with a special focus on working with adolescents and young adults. She dedicates her tele-health private practice to teaching Coping and Life Skills, supporting people through transitions and life challenges.