Staying mentally healthy while in school can depend a lot on what stage of life that you’re in. Middle schoolers, high schoolers, college-aged, and graduate-level students all have different expectations placed on them. They each have different pressures, desires, and experiences, which means the advice given may need to be altered or specific to each group. In general, though, there is some advice that spans across all age groups and levels of education. It’s not enough to simply drink coffee every morning in hopes you’ll make it through the day. You have to be proactive in preserving and strengthening your mental health. When you intentionally take care of yourself, good mental health will often naturally follow.
Join a Club or Team
People need other people. It’s a simple concept, but many people fail to develop close friendships that last a lifetime, and usually are looking in all the wrong places. The easiest way to make friends is to find others who share your same interests. Maybe you’re into golf, basketball, or ultimate frisbee. Or you might like debates, chess, or technology. Whatever your hobby is, or your passions are, gravitate toward other people your age who share those same interests. You’ll probably find you have more in common with them than just what’s on the surface. Strong support networks and close connections are essential for good mental health because you need to know you have people to lean on and go to when life gets tough.
Get Enough Sleep
The importance of sleep cannot be understated. As it stands, many teenagers and young adults are not getting enough sleep each night. You should aim for at least eight hours, but everyone needs a different amount. You may feel rested on less than eight hours of sleep, or you might need closer to 10. Sleep allows the mind to reset itself and prepare for the next day. Those who don’t get enough sleep report feeling more depressed and anxious. School can take a toll on anyone, and it’s vital you’re prioritizing rest if you hope to do well in school and maintain a positive, healthy state of mind.
Eat Well and Stay Active
Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly go hand-in-hand. It’s somewhat easier to stay healthy when you’re younger because of good metabolism and less control over what you’re eating. Those who go off to college, though, tend to struggle more with diet and exercise. If you don’t already eat healthily, try adding more servings of fruits and veggies to what you already eat. Eat those first, and you’ll likely get full faster and eat less overall. As for exercise, a brisk 30-minute walk each day is a great way to start. You can switch it up by attending yoga sessions or joining a sports team as well. Your physical health is directly linked to your mental health. The better you are physically, the better chance you have of developing good mental health.
Take Classes You Actually Enjoy
This one can be tricky if you’re in middle or high school because your options are more limited. Freshmen in college usually have to take core classes to meet basic requirements for graduation as well. However, you still strive to take the classes you think you’d enjoy whenever possible. If you’re in high school and need a challenge, try taking AP or advanced classes. Join the band or choir if it sounds appealing. School shouldn’t be unenjoyable, although everyone has to take classes they don’t like at some point. Still, do your best to set yourself up for success by taking classes you want to take. Classes that you feel are boring, much too difficult, or useless will ultimately make you not want to go to school and learn. Learning is great for mental health, and you also deserve to feel happy both at home and in the classroom.
Get Some Hobbies
Your mind needs breaks, regularly. Routine is also helpful but switching things up can provide much needed relief from mundane everyday life. If you don’t already have a hobby, try picking one up. This could be a sport, a club, an activity, or anything else really. You just need something that will take your complete focus and make the time pass quickly. Your hobbies should make you feel relaxed, less stressed, and happier. When the mind is able to get frequent breaks, you’re much more likely to be productive throughout the day. Plus, you’ll always have something to look forward to after a long day or week.
No matter what age you are, learning is a lifelong process and should be approached with curiosity and excitement. Many children have bad experiences in school in which their needs aren’t met or accommodated, leading to a strained relationship with anything school or learning-related in the future. If that’s you, know that it’s still possible to develop a healthy relationship with the school environment. It has just as much potential to be rewarding and fun. We spend a lot of our lifetime going to school, especially those who go on to higher education, so your time there should be enjoyable. It makes sense that those who spend their days sitting in a classroom they hate will tend to struggle more with their mental health. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your body and mental state and adjust your habits accordingly. Everything you do day to day will affect your mental health. If you take all of these tips and still don’t feel mentally healthy, seek out the help of a professional like a therapist. Your mental state should always come first.