January is self-improvement month, and you may be wondering: are face masks and juice cleanses really necessary for a happier life? Is chocolate cake self-care? In a sea of social media and poorly disguised consumerism, it’s hard to tell what truly works. These student-approved tips will help you battle your inner demons and tackle that chem test on Monday.
Do what you must. While it’s important to cut yourself some slack, it’s equally important to maintain balance. Maybe taking that part-time job is stressful, but it might be necessary at the moment. This advice goes for simple tasks, too; “Make sure you’re hydrated and eating right while at school,” said Mo McCann, a sophomore. “Check in on yourself periodically.”
Know your limits. Going beyond your means can really hurt your mental health. Take time to figure out what’s challenging enough for you. Maybe taking an honors class is your limit, while some of your friends are taking three AP courses. Adjusting your schedule to how you work will help your wellbeing in the long run.
Take a break. It’s ok to step back from it all once in a while. You can’t produce your best work if you’re burned out! Take a minute, an hour, or a day to recollect yourself—you’ll be back and better than ever. “Taking a break to recharge and just listen to music by myself helps a ton,” said Quincey Amacher, a freshman.
Find your sanctuary. Not everything has to be college-resume-worthy. Hobbies are a great way to make your day less of a slog. Focus your mind on one task instead of worrying about what comes next. Whether that’s playing video games, cooking, or (yes, seriously) meditating, it’s sure to ease your anxiety.
Talk to someone. If you find yourself spiraling after a rough day, don’t feel bad for venting to a friend. Despite the stigma surrounding it, therapy is also a perfectly valid option. If your situation gets critical, talk to a trusted adult or reach out to a hotline.
So there you have it! The best mental health strategies are simple in theory, but they can be hard to stick to, especially if you’re always busy. Just remember them when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed — and don’t eat forget to eat some cake now and then.