Coronavirus lockdown: With exams and festivals cancelled, now is time for teenagers to find ‘fire in your belly’

With schools shut, GCSEs and A-Levels aborted and youngsters cooped up at home, Natasha Devon, the government’s former children’s mental health tsar, has a simple message for the nation’s children: you are not alone. “We’re going to have to do things slightly differently this year.” “Actually this is a really good opportunity to find your ‘driving force’,” says the 38-year-old former model, who was appointed an MBE for services to young people for her hundreds of school visits each year. “Those transition periods represent potential points of vulnerability because the support network that you had evaporates.” At the same time, they are likely to be immersing themselves yet further in social media platforms that can be harmful to self-esteem, as secluded teenagers see posts showing friends living their “best lives”. “It’s amazing how quickly that developed, isn’t it – this sort of quarantine-bragging phenomenon?” says Devon, who advises youngsters to cleanse their Instagram ofinfluencers who inspire feelings of inadequacy. But, with tips on time management, relaxation and anxiety, the self-help guide takes on a new resonance for pupils stuck at home on indefinite study leave. “Schools and parents are going to have to be prepared to deal with the emotional fallout from this time.” But she also hopes the crisis will lead to positive systemic change. “What I’m hearing from teachers is that because they have had to step in and give students grades based on their performance throughout the academic year, and a lot of them think that is a fairer way of doing things, it might make policy-makers rethink the emphasis on exams. “Obviously exams will always be an element of the education system, but a lot of people feel that your progress throughout the academic year should count as well. Maybe in the future that will happen and I think that’s a cause for celebration.” Gallery: 24 things you can do while staying at home (Photos) The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to people being confined indoors. In most places, schools and universities have closed, concerts and sporting events have been canceled or postponed, and several venues, from theaters and museums to tourist attractions and restaurants, have temporarily shut down. It could be either a classic that you had been wanting to revisit or something new that you had always meant to watch.  Keep your mind active and busy by trying your hand at crosswords, sudoku, puzzles and word games. Utilize this time to tackle that book you had tucked away in a corner and forgotten about or choose from a wide variety of popular fiction or classic reads. Some ways to go about it would be to lie down with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing, or sit cross-legged and chant a soothing mantra in your head.  Indulge in some much-needed self-care by taking a relaxing bubble bath, complete with scented candles, salts and oils. Give your home a makeover by reorganizing your wardrobe, clearing out the clutter in cupboards and cleaning every nook and corner.  If you are an art lover, take this time to paint or sculpt or just indulge is basic craft projects. You could try painting a wall in your favorite pattern and colors or learn a few do-it- yourself projects and craft ideas on the internet. Though gyms are temporarily closed in several places, you can still follow your fitness regimen by chalking out a workout plan and exercising at home. You could also try your hand at learning a new instrument or improve your guitar or piano skills through online music classes. Keeping a daily journal or blogging is a good way to write about specific interests, ranging from food to films, or simply record your feelings. Go for board games like chess, Scrabble, Ludo and Pictionary.  Another way to utilize your time at home is to increase your knowledge on various subjects. As you restrict yourselves indoors during this quarantine period, reconnect with your immediate family, sit and talk, eat meals together and, most importantly, cherish each other's company. If you try to revise with chat windows open and your phone beeping, your homework will take you three times as long, and you won’t get any of the benefits of connecting with your friends because you’re not giving either them or work your full focus.