An Introduction:

Hey, y’all!

If you’re reading this, you’re probably on my Teen Advisory Board or you got super bored and started literally reading all corners of the library website. It’s more interesting than reading a dictionary, so I’ll give you that.

Anyways: hi, I’m Liz. I’m the teen person at the library and I’m glad you’re here.

Because however you got here, you’re here. Take a deep breath. You’re here. Despite several weeks that have left most of us with varying levels of stress or anxiety, you’re here. You made it to today. That’s pretty brave, in my book. Every hard thing the month has thrown at you, you’ve done your best and you’ve chosen into staying. That’s brave.

By now you’ve probably heard that the library is closed for a few weeks. Or you haven’t heard that, but you’ve heard about everything from Disneyland to the entire city of Chicago closing, so you’ve made plans to stay inside anyways. That’s great. You’re young and strong, but you’re being a team player and that’s awesome. That’s something I love about your generation, the generation of Billie’s and Greta’s. You care about the world as a whole, for humanity as a whole, for each other. You give me a lot of hope for the future, even though it’s full of uncertainties in these days. I still believe the future will hold goodness.

So take another minute. A breath. Pause again. Breathe deep. Let your lungs fully expand and slowly let your breath out. You’re here. I’m here. We’re both here, taking it a day at a time, an hour at a time, doing the best that we can to make sense of something uncertain. In spite of all the unknowns, in spite of all the uncertainty, you are doing your best and you are doing a good job. Being a person is hard right now, and you’re doing a good job holding it all together.

Now you might be thinking: did I show up here and read this far just for a random millennial to tell me she’s proud of me? Okay, Karen. Linda. Boomer. I’m none of the above, but I get it. I do. Nearly every post or article I read is either full of blind optimism or terrifying pessimism and it’s like a tug-of-war for my mental health. I’m not here to add to the chaos: I’m here to offer some middle ground.

I can’t tell you everything will be okay. I can’t tell you when things will return to normal or what normal will look like when everything sifts out. I can’t promise the next weeks won’t be hard. But I can promise that we are all in this together. And I can offer tools to help you get through it in the only way we can: one day at a time.

Here are some things that have helped me. I have collected ideas from myself, from the internet, from friends and family, and from my therapist.

Mental Health:

Speaking of therapy, if you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, Headspace has a free two-week trial, to help us get through the worst of it. You can unsubscribe after the two free weeks rather than continuing and paying the regular fee. (Speaking from experience, I’d recommend setting a notification on your phone so you remember to do that and don’t get charged.) To Write Love on Her Arms has pretty regular Instagram live streams, centering on the topic of mental health, as well as free resources on their website.

Physical Health:

Let’s stop here for a second. A neat opportunity we have during this time is to step away from the hurry of our daily lives and listen to what our bodies need. Maybe your body needs to move, but maybe your body needs to rest. Napping is okay. It’s okay if you’re not working out every day. Remember, being a person is a hard thing right now. It requires a lot of energy to grieve the way things were–and that’s okay. But if you are looking for free ways to move your body during quarantine, keep reading. I’ve found sunshine helps perk me up–aka running or walking. Plus, it’s free. Biking, roller skating, scootering, and skateboarding are also great options if you have the gear for them. Many gyms and teachers are offering streaming of their classes online for free during this time. If there’s a particular type of workout you’re looking for, let me know and I’ll post some options!

Reading:

Now we’re back around to what you know the library for: books. But we are in a strange season of the library being closed, which makes me feel just as panicky as you. What will I do when I run out of books? Yes, there is Amazon, but my goal is to offer you free options, because if you’re anything like me, you’re not trying to spend a bunch of money right now. A great option is Bridges/Overdrive. It’s free and connected to your library card. There are audiobooks and ebooks of every genre; if what you want isn’t in, put a hold on it, just like a “regular” book and they usually arrive quickly, as the checkout period is only 2 weeks. This is my go-to for road trip audiobooks and now it’s become my go-to for audiobooks on my daily walks.

Music:

Spotify has free options, if you’re not already using the platform. Also, there’s always tried-and-true Youtube. One of my favorite music-related releases of the week was Harry Styles’ Tiny Desk Concert.

Other Ideas:

This can be an opportunity to try new things. We’ve got databases (free!) with ideas from cooking to crafts. Become a novice. Try a new thing. Fail. Try again. There’s no pressure on these creative endeavors and that’s freeing. It’s okay to be messy and new and create simply for the fun of it. I’ve been working on hand lettering, crocheting, and playing cribbage.

Drawing or coloring are some things that require almost no supplies. Learn magic tricks with a deck of cards. Write a letter to a friend or relative.

Clean out your closet. Offer to help your parents’ with home projects. Start a garden. Learn new Tik Toks (this has been a fun one at my house, too, while we’re “in the house, bored”). Teach your parents Tik Toks.

It’s okay to rest, but it’s also okay to stay busy if it helps.

Write about your experiences. You can journal or blog, take photos or videos. You’re living in a unique situation and no one is experiencing it in the exact same way as you. You experiences are important, your words are important, your stories are important.

Most of all: take it one day at at time. We’re in this together.

I’d love to feature some of the things you’ve found to do at home or books you’ve read from home on our blog. Send me an email at elizabeth.brown@wdm.iowa.gov with your ideas.