School is Back in Session: Taking Care of Your Mental Health!
Well, summer went by pretty quickly and it’s time to hit the books!
However, as we know, this school year will not be the same. Some of us may be on-campus, some may be taking a mix (half in-person and half virtual) and some may be fully online.
Going to school amidst a global pandemic is not easy. This sense of uncertainty can definitely take a toll on our mental health. It is important that we are constantly checking up on ourselves this school year to make sure that we are doing what is best for us.
Here are a couple of tips to help you start the school year right without sacrificing your mental health.
1. Check in with yourself often
Sometimes as students we just go through life finishing one assignment, moving on to the next, going to see friends, the gym, work, and we never stop and breathe. It’s easy to keep on going through our lives without really focusing on the present.
This semester try to do just that. Focus on the present. Check in with yourself. Listen to your body. There may come a time when you find yourself stressed out, as you are continually moving from one thing to the next. In that moment, stop and ask yourself, “What can I do to help me feel better”?
If it’s binge watching your favorite show guilt-free, playing video games, journaling or just sleeping, do that. Make sure you are doing whatever it takes to so you can feel at 100% when you have to do a presentation or take an exam.
Check in with yourself a lot this semester!
2. Practice self care strategies
Self care! The buzz word of the moment that everyone likes to use, but some of us, don’t really know what it is.
Self care is putting you and your needs first.
This academic school year students are going to have a lot on our plates such as following the public health protocols, getting good grades, looking for internships, doing well in your job, etc.
As students we are always on the go, never stopping but what do we do when we burn out? More importantly, what can we do proactively, to prevent us from burning ourselves out?
Some self-care tips to practice in the moment you are stressed include taking a long walk or practicing meditation.
However, it is also important to practice self-care even if you are not stressed out so you don’t get to that point of no return. Some things you can practice on a long term basis include mindfulness, journaling, exercising, and eating healthy.
Remember, you shouldn’t be stressing out about a self care plan, but self care practices can help you focus on you when times get rough.
3. Utilize positive stress reduction techniques
As students, stress is always there, unfortunately. It’s part of our daily lives, and it would be great if it could just disappear.
Everyone responds to stress differently, and most of the time negatively. For example, when I am faced with a stressful situation I tend to over complain or shut everyone out.
When some students face a stressful situation it is common for them to respond negatively such as procrastination, overeating, oversleeping, and negative self-talk.
Well, this year when you are feeling stressed, challenge yourself to respond in a positive way. Some of those positive responses include deep breathing, exercising, action planning, and talking with others.
This year is definitely going to be stressful and we are going to face many challenging situations, but you have control of how you respond to these situations.
4. Establish who is part of your support system and seek help if you need it
The most important tip I have for you for this back to school is to establish your support system!
Support systems include those people that you can rely on when you need help. Establish and recognize those people in your life you can turn to if you need help academically, socially, or emotionally.
By having this system established, the process of asking for help becomes a lot easier.
Now, I do recognize that there is a stigma behind asking for help, but why? When you don’t understand a math or science problem, who do you go to? Your teacher/ or professor. Now apply that for yourself when you need help emotionally.
Asking for help does not make you weak, it makes you stronger!
Having someone you can talk to, whether it’s a friend, family member, teacher, professor, or professional will help you navigate whatever you are going through easier.
This school year is going to be different, and may be hard but you have control of how you choose to confront it. Go into this semester with a positive attitude and use all those tips you just read about, and you’ll have an amazing year.
Don’t let this school year take a toll on your mental health, so if you need help please ask!