Grades, scholarships, and college - all of these things give high schoolers today so much stress in their daily lives. This stress can negatively affect these teens' lives in many ways. So, how can students today mitigate their stress surrounding school?
I find that calming techniques really help during a stressful situation. One simple one that can be incredibly helpful is breathing in for five seconds and then out for five seconds. Another calming technique that may be helpful to you during a stressful situation would be to look around yourself and name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and finally, one thing you can taste.
Taking Care of Yourself
School can be stressful and feel very time consuming. However, taking care of yourself and your body should always be your first priority. For instance, if you are feeling overly stressed, try eating a meal, taking a shower, or even just simply going to bed.
Do What Makes You Happy
Something I find helps me when I am most stressed while doing my calculus homework is stopping whatever problem I'm currently on and just doing something I find joy in. Whether that is going to my friend's house, taking a nap, or going rollerskating. It is always a nice way to de-stress from the school I am doing.
Humans, by nature, are social creatures. Humans are born to share ideas and emotions with each other. The very wellbeing and survival of a human being is significantly rooted in the social connections in one’s life. We even see it in our closest relatives, apes, who have their own family structures. So why, why is it that no matter how much we desire friendships, how much we want love, why is it so awkward to approach someone new?
Human brains are naturally pessimistic. It’s very easy for the brain to consider the worst possible scenario, and when we approach someone new that’s exactly what we expect. We expect them to judge us, look at us suspiciously, or take advantage of us.
It’s very much normal for the brain to generate these thoughts because it’s trying to protect us from being hurt. Our brains are always cautioned with new things. What’s great about our brains, though, is that they’re ours. Just like you can control the way your hair looks, you can control how your brain reacts to people all with simple knowledge, and it all takes one word: Sonder. Sonder is the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. So why is this important? Well it means that just like you were blast processing insecure thoughts before meeting that new person, they were doing the same. They too were worried about their smell. They too thought they had dressed too casual. The truth is, the #1 thing everybody has constantly on their mind is themselves. And it’s that fact that you can use to become a sociable person.
Now this isn’t to say that everyone is a selfish egocentric person. All this means is that people are worried about sustaining themselves before even thinking of others. Let’s say you had to wear a really ugly sweater to school because all of your stylish clothes are dirty. Of course the first thought in your mind at school is how everybody is going to see how ugly your sweater is. Sure, someone may see it, but that someone is also too worried about how their hair looks to even think about making a judgement on your sweater. So next time you have a really awkward moment with someone, just know that by the time you get home they’ve already forgotten about it. They are busy thinking about their own awkward moments and mishaps.
The truth is people are likely not thinking about your agenda or your insecurities, so really, they’re under your control! If people are constantly taking in only what's around them, then the world will see you for who you want to be. The judgements you place on yourself will be the judgements the world accepts.
The greatness of sonder is that you have all of the responsibility for who you are to yourself. It comes with realizing the anonymity of real life that potential for an enjoyable future can be seen. The world is a collection of over 7 billion unique, connected, and individual stories where it’s easy to get lost and feel small. Make yours stand out.
The Oxford dictionary defines compassion as, “sympathetic pity and concern for the suffering or misfortune of others.” This definition isn’t exactly on the positive side and makes compassion seem like it’s only meant for other people, when it’s important to have compassion for yourself and others. There are two different types of compassion: compassion for others and self-compassion. Both of these are equally important especially now. So join me on the passion for compassion journey as we explore compassion for others and yourself.
Throw Compassion Around Like Confetti !!!!
Compassion is a combination of kindness and empathy, which is something everyone needs. However, sometimes it can be easy to forget. In this COVID-19 era, we quite literally have had a wall dividing us from those around us. It can make it harder to connect, express emotions, and help each other. Normally when a friend was having a bad day all you had to do was be their shoulder to cry on. Hug them and reassure them that everything was going to be okay. Sadly, we can't always do that anymore without the risk of COVID-19 coming into play. This can make it harder to be there for your friends and others. So that's where what I like to call COVID compassion comes into play. Here is how you can be there for your friends while keeping six feet apart:
It is the digital age so give them a call, shoot them a text, host a Zoom meeting. Humans are social by nature and that doesn't have to stop just because it feels like everything else has.
Go on a social distance walk in nature.
Watch a movie together over Zoom.
Be a sympathetic ear. Just listen to what they have to say and offer support.
You can write letters to them. Letters are more personal and they do take some time to arrive, so it will make your friend's day when it does
Self Care Isn't Selfish!!!!
Here are some self-care gifts to give yourself:
Reach out to people you have not talked to in a long time. While writing this I sent a message to three friends I haven't talked to in a while, and honestly, it was the smartest decision I've ever made. It opened a door that otherwise wouldn't have been opened if I didn't send a message. We have been isolating ourselves for so long that we sometimes forget that we have the world at our fingertips. Because connecting with others is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
Plan a future trip you want to take when it is safe to do so. People are starting to get pandemic paranoia causing them to worry about when this will all end. Therefore hope is the most important gift you can give yourself.
Limit social media usage.
Pay attention to your feed. If it is more on the negative side, try and find more positive things to be looking at. It's one thing to be informed on current events. It is another to let the negativity of others dictate your life.
Create a playlist of music that you like and lifts your spirit.
Trade in the COVID mask for a spa mask and give yourself a spa day. It is important to unwind no matter who you are - it never hurts to treat yourself.
Laugh. People sometimes underestimate the power of laughter. Laughter is the best medicine. Even though it can't cure Coronavirus, it can cure the feelings of sadness and fear we all felt at some point during this pandemic.
Laughter is the best medicine.
Treat yourself how you want others to treat you.
Keep it positive.
Despite the fact that yoga is becoming extremely popular among adults as a way to stay fit and stay healthy, most teenagers and young adults do not take it seriously. Personally, I was introduced to yoga because it was the only PE class available in my schedule junior year. I was very skeptical about it at the beginning, but with time yoga became an inevitable part of my morning routine, not only because of its physical benefits but psychological as well. Some of the scientifically proven benefits of yoga include better heart health, improved eating habits, reduced inflammation, and migraines. However, I think one of the biggest benefits of practicing yoga is the positive impact it has on our mental health.
As a high school student, I do not necessarily experience big stresses in my life such as buying a house or losing a job. However, just like most teenagers, my life is full of constant small stressors such as preparing for tests and AP exams, applying to colleges, managing school, and personal life, performing well at sports, etc. Combined with the peer pressure and the pressure of deciding our future, all these stressors on the developing teenage brain can lead to anxiety attacks or even depression. This is when yoga comes into place.
Practicing yoga 20-30 minutes a day gives me enough time to forget about whatever worries I have and allows me to focus on my body and mind. Relaxing yoga flows - Vinyasa Yoga - not only calms me down but helps me recharge and set the intention for the day. When I focus on not falling out of my pose or reaching my toes when stretching, I do not think about the upcoming tests or college essays I need to write, which helps me relieve my anxiety and decrease my stress levels. When I feel especially stressed, I like to do Yin Yoga, which is a slow meditative flow. If you are a beginner, it might be harder to hold some of the poses for a longer period of time, but this is why breathing is very important.
Breathing is one of the most essential parts of yoga because it helps you remain focused and bring your attention back if it wanders. During the practice, it helps me remain balanced and deepens the stretch. I really enjoy doing 4-7-8 breathing (inhale for the count of four, hold the breath for seven and exhale for the count of eight) after my workout because it helps me calm down my body and my mind. By performing breathing exercises regularly, you will not only benefit psychically but also mentally, as breathing techniques are widely used to decrease stress levels and increase awareness of an individual's feelings and emotions. There is a wide variety of breathing exercises, so you can definitely find the one that would benefit you.
After a regular yoga practice or a workout, I like to spend a couple of minutes doing Yoga Nidra, which is a guided meditation. It is a great way to end the practice and set your final intention for the day. It helps me completely relax and recharge. Moreover, meditation is a great way to connect with your inner self, understand your worries and your feelings, which is also why yoga is used to fight anxiety and depression. It promotes self-love and encourages positive self-talk. You can also try doing Restorative Yoga to help relax your mind. Having a routine and knowing that your yoga mat is always there, waiting for you, can be very helpful in stressful situations and can even help fight depression.
Lastly, doing yoga regularly promotes good sleep quality. Let's be honest, it's very difficult to find a high school student who is getting a good quality eight-hour sleep regularly. Practicing yoga can definitely help with that. Whether you decide to do a quick 10-minute flow or a short meditation before going to bed, you will feel more relaxed and fall asleep easier. Therefore, yoga can be a great tool when fighting insomnia. And I think everyone would agree that a better sleep quality means better overall well-being, and more happiness, which we all desire so much.