The school year is almost here, and the times are about to start zipping along again. Maybe you’re anxious thinking about it, or maybe you’re excited. If you’re feeling some of both, then you’re not the only one. As your schedule starts to fill back up with classes and homework, with extracurriculars and part-time jobs, or with family responsibilities—whatever it may be—don’t forget to make time for yourself. Read on for five ways to be well as the school year gets going.
1. Be kind to your body
It’s the only body you’ve got, so make sure you’re taking good care of it. In times of stress and chaos, it can be easy to let your physical self-care slide, but it’s exactly those times when practicing self-care is the most important. Get nutrition in your diet, stay hydrated, exercise, and stick to a regular sleep schedule. Taking care of yourself physically is an important part of taking care of yourself mentally. Be a friend to your body.
And don’t forget to find satisfaction in your physical self-care while you’re at it. Prepare your favorite healthy breakfast. Read from a good book before bed. Find an exercise that is equal parts fun and workout. Use this time to set aside your stressors for a little while.
2. Choose supportive company
Surround yourself with the family and friends that give you strength—the people who make you feel at home, and at ease in your own skin. A healthy social life and support network is an important piece of your mental well-being. So spend time with people that encourage you.
And if there are people in your life that bring you down, or hurt your confidence, try not to give them the chance. Maybe this means hiding some peoples’ Facebook posts from your feed, or unfollowing them all together. Or maybe it means you won’t spend as much time around people who drag down your self-esteem. Practice kindness toward others as best as you are able to, but remember that, when it comes to who you choose to surround yourself with, your well-being gets to come first.
3. Make time for yourself
Step back and answer these questions for yourself: What gives you satisfaction? What gives you peace of mind? What helps you escape the busyness of your hectic life, even if it’s just for that brief moment? Maybe it’s high-energy physical activity, like playing a team sport, or dancing. Maybe you’re working toward your black belt in Taekwondo. Or do you find satisfaction in quieter, more reflective activities, like yoga, or journaling, or practicing an instrument? If it’s important to you, then it’s important, and you should carve out regular time for it in your life.
Sometimes it might feel like there just isn’t the time in the week to find a minute for yourself—too much homework, too many responsibilities, too many people who may depend on you—but until you go recharge your own batteries, you won’t be able to face all the other tasks in your life with the energy and the focus you’re capable of. You take time out of every day to brush your teeth, don’t you? Well, think of this too as a very necessary component of maintenance to your total health and well-being.
4. Ask for help freely
We all need help, but sometimes it’s hard to muster up the courage to ask for it. So try not to think of your need for help as a weakness or a burden on anyone. In fact, asking for help is a great way to build trust with the people that care about you. It can even be a great way to build new friendships.
Maybe it’s help studying for a test, or training for tryouts. Maybe you were absent from class and need to copy someone’s notes. Or maybe it’s a problem at home. Whatever it is, asking someone for help is, in its own way, paying that person a powerful compliment. It’s another way of telling someone: I think you’re smart, or you’re resourceful, or knowledgeable. It’s a way to tell them they seem generous or trustworthy. So go make someone feel useful; ask them for help!
5. Give help freely
Take a break from your own worries for a while, and spend some time worrying about somebody else’s. Sometimes the best way to put your own problems in perspective is to help others in need. Be generous with your kindness. Volunteer your time to a cause that matters to you. Find someone who really needs a compliment and then go give them the compliment of their life. A good way to remind yourself how valuable you are is by making a difference in someone else’s life, even if it’s just a small one.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or struggling with thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). Or chat with someone online by going to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
In crisis? You can text LA to 741741 to talk with a trained Crisis Counselor for free, 24/7. For more information check out www.crisistextline.org
If you are a teen who needs to speak to another teen listener, please contact the LA Teen Line at 310-855-4673, or www.teenlineonline.org