During break and lunch at FVHS, students are able to experience downtime from their classes and talk with their friends. (Photo by Zander Sherry)

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How to prioritize your mental health as a student

Taking care of your body, sleeping more and spending time with loved one are some ways to better your mental health.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/fvhsjvtran107/" target="_self">Jenny Tran</a>

Jenny Tran

March 16, 2022
School, among other things, can have a detrimental impact on a student’s mental health. With impending deadlines, reluctant assignments and the occasional “Wait, that was due today?”, it can be tough to not feel the effects of stress and burn-out.

Unfortunately, such stress can lead to the development of anxiety or depression and even poor academic performance. Many students tend to have trouble prioritizing their mental well-being in the grand scheme of things, often putting their academics over their health.

However, there are things you can do to balance your mental health as a student. Taking small steps in the right direction can still cover a lot of distance.

Take care of your body

Unsurprisingly, your physical well-being is very closely linked to your mental one. When you’re knee-deep into a long study session, it can be easy to forget to take care of your body along the way. Make sure you’re staying hydrated and eating balanced, fulfilling foods. You can also participate in more physical activities, even if they are just for a couple minutes a day.

Get more sleep

Sleep has many great health benefits — one of them being a well-functioning mind. Teenagers are recommended to get about 8-10 hours a night, but this idea is unfortunately not in many students’ vocabulary. It can be difficult to catch more shut-eye when your schedule is busy, which is completely understandable.

Sometimes, you just can’t help but chug a coffee and spend the rest of the night cramming for an exam you have the next day. However, it is much more beneficial to get sleep before a test than to try to shove down as much information as possible. Though, there are times when your workload might be too much for you to handle — which brings us to our next topic.

Reach out for help

When your mental health is at stake, taking care of it is much more important than getting an A in a class. If you truly cannot handle a class, you can always reach out to a teacher and let them know your situation. They will most likely understand and can help you work out the next steps.

The schools’ guidance team is also there to talk to, including about the state of your mental health. Talking to others and getting the help you need is important if you’re struggling. You should know that you will not fight this battle alone.

It’s okay to say no

When it comes to school, you may feel its immense social pressures. You might feel the need to participate in every hang-out or social activity, even if you don’t necessarily want to. If you are feeling overwhelmed or not up-to-par, do not feel ashamed about saying no to anything that isn’t important. Let others know of your situation, but do not let their judgment affect your choice.

Dabble in fun

Sometimes your academics and other school-related matters seem like the most important things in the world. When you’re stuck in this constant, focused mindset, you might find “leisurely activities” a waste of time. However, taking breaks is crucial when it comes to studying. Using breaks to simply do what you love can relieve your mind and take it off any worries you have.

Doing your hobbies, even if they’re momentary, can really improve your emotions and nurture your well-being. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself if it makes you happy. So, don’t feel ashamed if you want to glance back into that rom-com novel you’ve been enjoying when you’re not studying. You can even try practicing mindfulness and undertaking related activities like meditation or journaling.

Spend time with loved ones

Keeping social bonds is simply a part of human nature, and for good reason. Spending your time with family and friends has been known to improve mental health and meet emotional needs. Friends and family can also offer support when you’re in need, often being the first to go to when you are struggling. Simply having an enjoyable conversation with another person, especially when you’re stressed, can help you cope.

Love yourself

In the end, loving yourself is the most important part of the process. You should accept yourself for who you are and strive to be the best that you can be. Grades do not define you, contrary to what society can make you think. You should never feel the need to sacrifice your mental health for school

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