3 Strategies for Improving Your Mental Health in High School
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Shravya Kakulamarri in a CollegeVine Livestream. You can watch the full Livestream for more info.
Focus on the Physical Components of Your Health
The physical components of mental health are important to keep in mind, especially as a high school or college student. With your mental health having a direct impact on your physical health, and vice versa, it is important to take care of both. Some simple things you can start doing now, beyond eating healthier and staying hydrated, include making sleep a priority and maintaining an active lifestyle.
Prioritize Your Sleep
Science has proven that well-rested students are happier and have better grades. In addition, being well-rested helps you better absorb and retain what you’re learning. Many students in high school and college pull all-nighters in order to study before a big exam. However, if you want to do well, it is advised that you get rest, as sleep is extremely important for retaining knowledge and being able to use it. When you are sleeping, your memories become more stable and are consolidated (making it easier to recall them and create linkages between similar topics). To take advantage of the benefits of sleep, create a schedule and stick to ensure that you will get enough sleep every single night.
Being physically active is a critical part of both your physical and mental health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your overall health and wellbeing. This means something as simple as walking around your campus can help you feel better.
Build a Strong Support Network
Having a strong support network is essential for your mental health. When thinking of your support network, the first thing that may come to mind are your family and friends, but keep in mind that your support network can extend beyond your immediate circle. Teachers and school counselors can be great options as well and give you good advice based on their personal and professional experiences.
While there is often a stigma associated with mental health and seeing a mental health professional, seeing a psychologist or therapist is another great option. Mental health professionals are unique as they provide an unbiased, safe space for you to talk out your problems or work through your emotions.
Self-care looks different for everyone. To support your mental health, it’s important to find self-care practices and activities that work best for you, which may take a lot of trial and error.
Activities like meditation, yoga, journaling, and therapy can have a positive impact on your mental health. An example activity to try is maintaining a gratitude journal and reminding yourself daily of things that you are grateful for. This can help you be a more positive individual overall. Creative outlets like painting, reading, or even watching a funny movie, can also stimulate your brain and allow you to recharge.
Finding an activity that makes you happy is not something that is going to happen immediately. Therefore, don’t be discouraged if you are not suddenly seeing a huge improvement in your mental health by adding sleep, exercise, and new activities to your schedule. Just keep in mind that creating an overall routine will make you more organized and assist in allowing you to prioritize your mental health.