How high school seniors are managing COVID-19 stress

Two local students share experiences and advice
Posted at 7:08 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 00:23:17-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — We know COVID-19 impacts all of us in some way. For many of us the biggest change in our daily lives has been the stress that's come along with the impact of the pandemic. Through our Rebound Colorado series we're here to help in managing that stress. In this story News5 is putting a spotlight on our high school seniors who are facing challenges most of us never imagined.

Just like their classmates and high school seniors all over the country, the Colorado Springs teenagers News5 spoke with say that they had big plans and expectations for their final year on campus. It doesn't matter where they attended classes, plans have changed and all our high school seniors are feeling it. The Coronavirus Pandemic has now landed them at home forcing them and their families to deal with the situation that none of us have seen before.

Katie Peterson is a senior at Doherty High School. She's worked hard to manage her emotions and stay busy during these challenging times.

"I'm not going to lie to you it's been a lot to handle with everything going on," said Peterson. "A lot of thoughts and with quarantine too we have all the time in the world to overthink everything."

Justin Thomassen is a senior at Liberty High School. He too has been dealing with a series of emotions.

"Right away when like all this started I felt a lot of like sadness and anger because i had senior trip plans, a season in track, and then I had Disney trips planned, but then it all kind of got canceled all within like a day," said Thomassen. "Some people are going to take this okay and some people are really not going to take this well.":

For both Justin and Katie coping with the emotions of a school shut down and quarantine has been a process.

"A lot of people kept pushing me to find a new hobby, find something new to do and it took me a really long time to find that," said Thomassen. "Then one day I just went out biking and I instantly fell in love."

"I found a lot of really good distractions with through my hobbies like painting," said Peterson. "I cleaned my room and organized it probably a hundred times. I definitely tried to keep myself busy the best I can to stay positive."

Katie and Justin admit it hasn't been easy to stay positive spending their senior year away from school and friends, but they both say the decision to take a break from social media has made a big difference in their happiness.

"I'm taking some time away from it. A lot of it is just dwelling in a lot of that negativity," said Peterson.

"I really just felt I had to keep checking it. it was almost turning into an addiction," said Thomassen. "So one of the positives after I got rid of it was I feel I'm more happy because I'm more happy with what I do in my life and I'm not concerned about what other people are doing with their life."

Katie and Justin say they're in the process of setting career goals and both plan to attend UCCS in the fall.

AspenPointe mental health expert Lauren Lund says setting future goals is important for all of us right now.

"I think having those goals also gives us something to look forward to and having those goals is also something that can be connected to us internally, which no matter what happens around us we are still constant, we are still the same," said Lind. "So if we still have those it's giving us a sense of this is something that I can control and this is something that I can influence and I'm going to hang on to that because that is still very important."

While each day in the Coronavirus and quarantine era can present new challenges, Justin and Katie want to use this platform to encourage other students who are feeling the stress.

"The biggest thing that I've learned is that even when it seems like all of life is somewhat of a disappointment at the moment, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel," said Peterson.

"As long as you still hold on to that hope you know we're still going to see there's going to be brighter skies in the future," said Thomassen. "You know like my parents said, all this is causing pain and grief, but you still have a choice. You can choose to remain in that like sorrow or that corner, or you can choose to be happy you can choose to try and find a good in everything."

If you, or someone you know needs help managing stress-- or could just use someone to talk to, it can be as easy as an online video chat. For more information visit