Self-care tips for the best you

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Margot Graves

A clean and organized workspace is an essential self-care practice to keep your mind clear.

High school can be pretty stressful. Assignments can pile up, leaving students with hours of homework each night. Tests and quizzes seem to happen every other day. And in Carlmont’s competitive atmosphere, students feel pressured to go above and beyond. It is often challenging to keep up with the workload, and anxiety can permeate the environment. 

When students are drowning in work, it’s easy for their mental health and self-care to take the back seat.  Breaks suddenly seem like a waste of time. Going on a walk seems like too much effort. A good night’s sleep suddenly seems far less important than finishing that math problem. 

But when life gets overwhelming, self-care is essential. Taking time to relax and show some self-love will make students more focused, productive, and happy.  Here are five self-care strategies students can use when they are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. 

1. Exercise 

Exercise has numerous cognitive and emotional benefits that help to combat stress. Besides allowing time to care for your body and improve your physical health, exercise can positively alter hormones and enhance cognitive functions to stimulate productivity. 

Two primary hormones cause stress in the body: adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline can increase heart rate and elevate blood pressure, causing energy surges. And while having adrenaline in certain instances can be beneficial, having consistently high levels of the hormone is detrimental to overall health. Constant adrenaline surges can cause high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It can also lead to anxiety, weight gain, headaches, and insomnia.

Cortisol increases glucose, or sugar, levels in the bloodstream and increases the heart rate. Like adrenaline, it can be helpful in certain instances, but constant high levels of the hormone can cause various adverse effects on the body, like headaches and depression. It can change immune system responses and suppress the digestive system, reproductive system, and growth processes.

Exercise helps to control the amount of these hormones. A Harvard study regarding the effects of exercise on the body found that exercise reduces adrenaline and cortisol, or the stress hormones in the body. It also stimulates the production of mood-elevating hormones like endorphins, chemicals that improve mood and mute pain. 

Exercising for at least 15 minutes a day can lead to a host of positive benefits, like combating stress, increase life expectancy, and lead to a happier and healthier life. This small time commitment will profoundly impact students’ anxiety and productivity, and there are thousands of at-home workouts for those who don’t want to go to a gym or buy equipment. 

2. Take a technology break

Self-care is not just important to help yourself become physically healthy, but it is essential to focus on mental health.

Studies have proven social media to be very detrimental to teenagers’ mental health. Young adults seeing the perfect lives of influencers is not only unrealistic but very toxic to their well-being.

Taking a break from social media, and technology in general results in better productivity, sharpened focus, stronger bonds with friends and family, and improved self-worth. 

3. Express your emotions

Releasing your emotions is a fundamental part of caring for yourself. You can express your feelings through various methods, including talking to a friend, a parent, or another comfortable outlet. Additionally, journaling is an excellent way to let out emotions that you may not feel like discussing. 

To express your emotions, it is essential first to identify why you are feeling this way. A specific event likely triggered your emotions, and figuring this out can lead you to a solution.

If you know why you feel a certain way, you can better express your emotions to someone you trust. 

If a friend or parent may not be a comfortable option for you to talk to, you can always reach out to your school counselor. Your counselor focuses on school, so they are helpful to talk to when feeling overwhelmed with the workload.

4. Clean your space

Tidying your space can make you feel productive, organized and boost your overall mood. This can be as simple as organizing a drawer, decluttering your desk, or it may be cleaning an entire room. Overall, a clean workspace plays a vital role in de-stressing.

Tidying your workspace may seem overwhelming, but having a clean slate can help you clear your mind and focus on your work. Taking just five minutes to move unnecessary papers and items off your desk can lead you to complete homework more efficiently and effectively. Making your work environment more comfortable by lighting a candle, putting on your favorite cozy clothes, or playing some good tunes can also help your productivity levels.

5. Spend time outdoors

Spending time outdoors allows for tranquility and alleviates stress. Further, being in the sun can boost your mood

In California, we have comfortable weather conditions an immense amount of the year. Meaning most days, it is possible to take a walk or get some exercise in the fresh outside air.

On jam-packed and stress-filled days, taking extra time to step outside may seem unrealistic, but there is usually time to fit it in. Waking up ten minutes earlier to go on a walk is achievable and beneficial enough to fit it in.

Being in the sun leads to vitamin D production in the body, which helps prevent and fight conditions like osteoporosis, cancer, depression, and heart attacks.

 

Indulging in these self-care habits can help to reduce stress and improve your mood. Whether you decide to exercise, take a technology break, express your emotions, clean your space, or spend time outdoors, you can achieve a better you. Self-care is essential when you feel overwhelmed, and taking a step back to practice self-care can help improve your productivity.

Lucille Ball said it best: “Love yourself first, and everything will fall in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”