Tips from Townsend



Ms.Townsend (right), behavioral health professional West Boca Raton High School, Ms. Lorie (left) Guidance West Boca Raton High School

Amelie Salum Rapetti, Reporter

Closer… Too Close For Comfort?

The world was forced to quarantine in March of 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Everyone was forced to face their personal issues once the rush of pre-COVID life was taken away by social distancing and quarantine measures. In addition to personal revelations, many families had their relationships altered because of the stress that quarantine put on families by forcing them to be in close proximity for a prolonged period of time. Ms.Townsend, one of West Boca’s mental health specialists, remarked that “we’ve evolved into a culture that constantly needs to be busy” with work, school, sports, extracurricular, errands, friends, and countless other activities that used to make up people’s packed schedules. 

In some cases, families were strengthened during quarantine because the proximity fostered healthy family relationships. According to Ms.Townsend, the most important factor in good family relationships is dinner; sharing a couple meals a week bonds families because it gives everyone a chance to ask “what happened in your day” and just listen to each other. On the other hand, going from seeing family members a couple hours a day to seeing them every day all day can be a difficult transition. In some cases, quarantine has led to family issues because of the tremendous amount of stress that relationships and individuals went through. 


Rethink Your Anger

Humans tend to take out their anger on the people that they are closest to, hence, the family issues that many have experienced in recent times. Ms. Townsend advises that the first step is to identify what is causing this feeling of anger inside of you. Then, you have to reflect on how you think of yourself in the situation that is making you angry. The final step is to “adjust the way that you think about the situation and the way you think about yourself in the situation” in order to ease the anger. For example, if the source of your anger is someone cursing at you, then you can readjust your thinking by not believing what they are saying about you. 

There are moments when the situation overwhelms us, and we don’t have time to rethink our anger before we take it out on someone. When this happens, the most important thing is to realize that you unfairly hurt someone who wasn’t the source of your anger. The key to correcting the situation is as simple as an apology. People that care about each other can always forgive each other when the apology is genuine and feelings are discussed. You’ve probably often been told to take a couple minutes for yourself before you approach the individual with whom you are arguing. While this is true, it’s also important to not overly rely on “time to yourself” because matters need to be addressed in order to move on. 

Back in Business After COVID

In March 2020, the word was stripped of all its add-ons and everyone was left with the core of their life. Ms. Townsend noticed that “[COVID] taught us how materialistic we can be, and how we had veered away from valuing relationships with people”. Pre-March 2020, people were used to doing a million things a day; March 2020, people had to get used to doing nothing in a day; post-quarantine, the question arises: how much can we handle in a day? 

Ms.Townsend concisely answers the question with, “don’t be busy for busy’s sake”. Prioritize the activities that are good for your mental health, physical health, and emotional health. The activity may even be doing nothing; if doing nothing for an hour makes you happy, then prioritize it. Keep doing whatever it is that you value and follow your own pace in incorporating activities back into your life.


Verdict? NOT Guilty

On a similar note, when the world stopped many extracurricular activities did as well. Sport shut down, music shut down, clubs shut down, everything shut down. As a result, some athletes, musicians, and amateurs were not able to continue their training to progress and reach their goals. For those who feel guilt at losing progress because of increased time spent at home, you need to rethink your guilt. Feeling guilty will not help you, on the contrary actually. Also, remember that everyone had to stop, so you are not alone in the lost progress. The best possible thing to do is move on and move forward. 


Lost and Found: Motivation

Like most issues, the first step is acknowledging the lack of motivation and reaching out for help. According to Ms.Townsend, a possible cause of feeling unmotivated  is that “what motivated [people] before isn’t an option now”. The teenage range of interests has severely been cut down to primarily social media or video games. Turn to a friend, family member, or even Ms.Townsend herself to find a new spark that could lead to a new passion. 


Grades High, Standards Even Higher

The shift from a primarily online school system to a “regular” in-person school year has been tough for many. Last year, cheating was most likely exploited, and now that it’s no longer an option the consequences are becoming apparent. Ms.Townsend says that West Boca has to “reset [their] expectations” in order to ‘eventually be back to where we were with academics”. Students, staff, administration, and parents will all have to work together in order to make up for lost time and surpass expectations.


Part-time… Not Enough Time

Many students at West Boca HAVE to work, go to school, and fulfill at home responsibilities. There are days when it may seem impossible, but this lifestyle is only sustainable if those students try to find some balance. It’s also vitally important to have strong, close relationships with people that you know you can vent to. Also, congratulate yourself, appreciate yourself, and give yourself credit, because it’s not easy.