By Josh Wei
The back-to-school season can bring a weird mix of excitement and stress. As students return to school for a new year, it’s important to remember that prioritizing mental health is just as important as studying well and getting good grades. In this post, we’ll explore a few practical strategies to help you maintain your mental well-being while navigating the challenges of returning to school.
Stress Management Techniques
Stress: Every student’s best friend…or worst enemy, depending on how you look at it. Either way, the good news is that you can manage it!
We all know the weight of stress and how draining it can be. Stress can be a helpful motivator when there are piles of assignments and projects, but when it gets out of hand, it can end up creating more difficulties than resolving them. One way to manage stress is through mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. Taking a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness or meditation can help reduce stress and improve focus. Try to find a quiet space, sit comfortably, and focus on your breath. Let go of worries about the past or future and center your attention on the present. What do you notice around you? Explore your five senses and ground yourself in the present.
Another simple yet effective way to help manage your stress is through deep breathing exercises. Inhaling for 4 seconds, holding for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds is a very easy way to practice stress regulation. Repeat this process several times whenever you feel overwhelmed. By slowing down our breathing, we teach our bodies that we are safe and that stress doesn’t have to lead to a sense of panic.
Exercise is a powerful stress reliever. Regular physical activity releases endorphins, boosting your mood and reducing stress. Whether it’s a 5-minute walk, a yoga session, or a team sport, find an activity you enjoy and make it a part of your routine.
Time Management and Organization
Along with stress management, having a system that helps you organize your time and tasks is always a helpful strategy. This might require a bit more planning on the forefront, but adjusting your approach is totally normal, too, as you figure out what works for you! One way to practice organization is by creating a schedule. Set aside specific blocks of time for studying, and stick to your schedule. Consistency helps you manage your workload effectively. Use a planner or digital calendar to organize your study sessions, assignments, and tests.
Another method to try out is to sort your to-do list by priority. Break down your tasks into smaller, manageable steps and prioritize what needs to be done first. This helps prevent feelings of being overwhelmed or lost, and progress is much easier to track. Every time you finish a task, find the satisfaction in crossing it off your list! I personally like to create a list each morning before I tackle the day. Doing this daily helps the whole week feel much more manageable.
One of the hardest challenges in relationships is opening up about our struggles. We tend to avoid sharing out of fear of being rejected, minimized, or misunderstood. When it comes to the difficulties of school, it can seem unnecessary to look to others for support. Everyone is going through the same assignments and tests, and you don’t want to be the one who “complains.” However, I think that shared experiences are best processed when we do exactly that: share them! Find close friends and family that you trust and find ways that you can support each other. Everyone handles school life differently, and you may learn new perspectives from each other.
School counselors and mental health professionals are trained to help students cope with academic and personal challenges. They can be another source of support that will provide you with skills and tools to manage the school year. Feel free to reach out to them if you’re curious; there’s no harm in trying it out!
Whether you are starting the year at a new school, returning to the same building with the same friends, or beginning a post-graduate academic career, remember to consider your mental health as you navigate this adjustment. By incorporating these stress management techniques, improving your organization, and seeking support when needed, you can prepare yourself to handle the changes and difficulties that school can bring.
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