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How To Protect Your Mental Health While Still Prioritizing School
School (and life in general) can be full of stressors that cause us to disconnect from ourselves and become overwhelmed by our long checklists of deadlines, responsibilities, duties, assignments, tasks and the lists go on. However, if we are unable to find balance and order in the chaos, then it is inevitable that all the items on our to-do lists will fall short as we reach a point of ultimate discontentment. That is why, in order to accomplish our tasks to the best of our abilities, we must prioritize mental health and wellbeing above all else. We've outlined 5 of our best mental health tips that will allow you to create a well balanced lifestyle that can help bring you peace, happiness and school success.
1. Create & Maintain Routine
Not only do daily schedules, planners and routines create distinctive structure for us to follow, they also grant us confidence and peace of mind in knowing that we will not be forgetting any major tasks, they allow us to have realistic productivity expectations because we can see an overview of our day, and because humans are creatures of habit, they help to implement healthy practices into our daily lives. The first step is to figure out a schedule type that works for you. Some people swear by filling out their days in 30 minute intervals, while others are good with simply separating their days into morning, afternoon and evening. Once you establish how much structure you require, create a routine and stick to it! It may be difficult at the beginning, but you will be thanking yourself in the long run once you reap the benefits of achieving higher work quality and overall contentment. Plan out your day with mandatory tasks such as lectures, classes, homework time, etc. and then begin to fill in empty time slots with various productive activities. These activities can include practicing a hobby, leisurely reading, taking the time to create a healthy meal, or doing something creative. In addition, making comprehensive schedules helps you to prioritize your assignments better, ensuring adequate time is being granted for each task. Since a great deal of stress comes from the feeling of always being at a loss for time, creating and maintaining a routine will help to alleviate this avoidable problem. Interested in more planner tips? Check out our blog post dedicated to helping you plan for success here.
2. Set Realistic Goals
A huge stressor that can cause mental health issues for many people is the continuous pressure to succeed and thrive in all aspects of life. First and foremost, you must decide what is important for you and what you are interested in achieving. This is more than enough to deal with without the added pressure of trying to please those around you. Make sure that you are choosing to pursue a path that brings you happiness and fulfillment. There is nothing wrong with setting high goals, however, they can become overwhelming when we don't take the time to figure out the necessary steps needed in order to achieve them. Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally and write them down. Next to your goals, create a list of steps you will need to take to realize your goals. For instance, if you are looking to get into a certain post-secondary program, start by researching the class and grade requirements necessary and then work to enrol in those classes and achieve those grades. You can then work these goals into the schedule you created from tip number one where you can easily track your progression and prioritize your time to meet your goals.
3. Value Yourself & Your Body
You are your number one priority. Without you, there is no school, work, chores, etc. With that being said, it is imperative that you take the necessary steps to keep yourself balanced and happy. You can start by making sure you are getting enough sleep. Researchers believe that lack of sleep contributes to a higher rate of depression in students. Everyone's body is different but the typically suggested length of sleep is 8 hours. In addition to getting enough sleep, do your best to keep your sleep schedule consistent in both waking and bedtime. When you wake up and throughout your day, make sure you are filling your body with nutritious meals and drinking plenty of water. Skipping meals, overloading on caffeine or frequently eating take out is not only leading you to an inevitable crash, it is also not feeding your brain and body in a positive manner (pssst, for some brain-boosting study snacks, check out this blog post). Along with feeding your body healthy foods, do your best to move your body in a way that you enjoy, This can be going for nature walks, lifting weights, yoga, stretching, running on the treadmill, and so much more! Exercise has been proven to help decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve moods. In your schedule, make time to move your body, get adequate sleep and prepare healthy meals.
4. Practice Mindfulness
In addition to caring for your physical body, make sure you are respecting yourself and your time. If you are feeling overwhelmed, do not be afraid to set boundaries with others by saying no to obligations and plans. Boundaries are healthy in every relationship and you are allowed to want to spend your time focusing on yourself. Treating yourself with patience and kindness is incredibly necessary and the words you speak to yourself matter, so avoid self-deprecation and criticism. You can create your own or look up a wide variety of daily
affirmations, or create a list of all the things that you are grateful for and announce them out loud. This can help guide your mind into a more positive outlook about yourself and the world around you. Meditation, yoga and other conscious breathing exercises are invaluable in terms of calming down the brain and settling the body, plus they make great coping skills. If meditation isn't your thing, consider listening to calming music for 15 minutes, writing in a journal or playing with your pet. These calming strategies alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety and help to build resiliency.
5. Don't Be Afraid To Reach Out
Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. This can be something as simple as talking with your friends and family about your stressors, worries or doubts. Studies show that people with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans to meet up or chat with the supportive people in your life or seek out activities where you can meet new people, either virtually or online, such as a club, class or support group. Expressing your feelings can really help put your mind at ease and rid nettling concerns. For example, talking to your friend about your university decisions and doubts can be reassuring since they’re most likely on a similar path as you and can share relatable fears about the future which will allow you to find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in your worries. In addition, many schools offer mental health support services for their students. Book an appointment with your school’s counsellor or therapist to discuss your concerns and evaluate your options. Oftentimes, they can refer you to a specialist, help lessen your workload and offer great resources.
We understand the ups and downs of life and are always here to support you! We hope you found these tips helpful and decide to give some of them a try this school year. Follow us on Instagram for weekly inspiration posts, and healthy tips and resources.