Mental health is important.
This might seem like an obvious statement, but it can be easy to let our mental health slide, especially when there is a lot going on in our lives.
2020 was a difficult year, and 2021 has been tough as well. We have all found ourselves in situations beyond our control, beyond what we would “normally” be expected to manage. Dealing with a pandemic is a major stressor; remote learning, cancellations of activities or plans, and lack of access to the things that make us happy can all contribute to the stress and anxiety of this time.
Our own lives can be stressors, too. High school has a lot of pressure. Whether it’s academic pressures and the desire to get good grades and do well in our classes, or pressures from our parents, our friends, and the people around us, being a teenager can be complex and difficult, and that can really affect our mental health, too.
Your academic life–standardized tests, grades, GPAs, even applying to college–is of course important. We know you want to do well, and we want that for you, too! But your health and well-being are always the priority. You matter, as a person, above and beyond your test scores and grades. That stuff comes and goes; your well-being is the most important.
Here are some ideas to help care for your mental health during this time:
Treat your own self care as a priority.
People talk a lot about self care these days, and it can mean different things to different people. Self care is what you do to take care of yourself. Sometimes it’s helpful to think of it as taking care of a pet. Ask yourself: “What do I need right now to be physically stable? What would make me happy and excited? What do I require that might not be fun at this exact moment, like brushing my teeth, but that will help me in the long run?”
Self care is doing things that help you feel like the best version of you. Maybe that means listening to a favorite song or going for a walk. Maybe it’s redecorating your room so it feels like you. Maybe it’s taking breaks when you need it. You are the best judge of your own self and your own self care.
Remember that your feelings matter!
Self care can be a useful way to process how we feel, but so can other things. Paying attention to your own feelings–happiness and sadness, irritability and exhaustion–is a good way to key in and think about what you need. And if you aren’t feeling like yourself, it is often a sign that you might need support from others.
Reach out for support when you need it.
Humans are social creatures–we all need someone. Having support in your life means someone to turn to when you need them, and someone to talk to. Support can be family, friends, classmates, a teacher, a counselor. Asking for help when you need it can be really hard, but it’s also the bravest thing you can do in that moment.
If you need someone to talk to, here are some talk/text lines for youth that you can always access:
How to access mental health resources: Get Immediate Help | MentalHealth.gov
For help with relationships specifically: https://www.loveisrespect.org/
Other crisis hotlines: https://www.stopitnow.org/ohc-content/crisis-hotlines-for-youth