Maintaining physical and mental health during a huge period of adjustment can be extremely difficult for everyone, especially teenagers. I start my senior year of high school in two days, and this year is going to be a challenge for me. Apart from the stress of keeping up with my 7 classes this semester, my college applications, and extracurriculars, I have to do it all from my bedroom. My residential program has shifted to a completely virtual environment for this semester. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive under pressure and love being busy. However, I had to learn to give myself a break or I would burn out.
Whether you are starting school in person or online, consider trying a few things that help me stay on track and healthy.
SCHEDULE QUIET TIME AND DOWN TIME
Quiet time is so important to me, especially when my days are busy. I try to give myself at least 20 minutes of silence each day, even if it is spread throughout the day. This time allows me to process information and make decisions without distractions. Sometimes I need an internal pep talk in the morning, or a prayer at night, so I simply give myself room in each day’s schedule.
Scheduling downtime into my busy days is also important. Not to be confused with quiet time, my down time can be eating a meal or talking to a friend – basically anything that isn’t considered work. When you have a lot of work to finish in a short amount of time, it might seem more logical to push through all of the work before you take a break. In reality, this will be extremely exhausting, and will likely decrease the quality of your work. If I build breaks into my schedule, I give myself a chance to relax and regroup before starting the next task. The breaks being spread throughout the day at specific times motivates me to work until I reach the next checkpoint.
Creating a schedule AND sticking to it is helpful to organize and prioritize your workload, but don’t forget to add in breaks too.
During the last few months, I have had inconsistent emotions as a response to different factors in my life. When my school announced their decision to stay completely virtual, I felt defeated. I knew, however, that they had chosen the safest option, so I couldn’t be too upset. I got to see one of my best friends (socially distanced with masks!) who I hadn’t seen in months, and that brought me the greatest joy. Between these two emotional extremes, I’ve found that it is easy to get lost.
In order to bring myself back to the center, I try to focus on positive things I have done, what I have, and things I want to do. This allows me to reflect on the past, appreciate the blessings in the present, and highlight things I can look forward to. Whenever I need some guidance I like to write or think about two things I have done this year that brought me pure joy, five things I am thankful for today, and one thing I am looking forward to.
(This is my most recent one)
2 things that have brought me happiness this year
- Europe trip
- Reaching out to new people and truly connecting
5 things I am thankful for today
- Mom’s kindness
- College counselor
- My bed
- Best friend
1 thing I am looking forward to
- The first day of senior year!