Stress. The bain of everyone’s existence, including mine. A high school junior, my entire college future is resting on my back, and trust me, it’s heavy as hell. I made sure to add extra weight with all Honors and AP classes. Along with school, I dance anywhere from 12 to 22 hours a week, which can span from 1:30 to 5 hours on weekdays. Let’s just say time to me is a rare occurrence. However, I’m not having that hard of a time, all considering. I’ve learned a lot of strategies and practices over the years which have helped me to reduce my stress and to not only make time for things I enjoy but to make time for myself to just be.
At this point, the word self-care is getting a little redundant. Just saying to take care of yourself is a little vague. But the core message is still a solid one. Time is a currency that one doesn’t get back, so when the day feels like it does not allow any extra, self-care feels like a hassle that isn’t worth spending the time on. However, “self-care” is something small that we can do every day. Every day doesn’t need to be a spa day or a day that you spend on the couch in front of the TV. Self-care is also: getting enough sleep, getting enough water, eating 3 meals, taking enough breaks, doing your nails/makeup, listening to music, etc. Doing the “bare minimum” of taking care of oneself can make a huge difference over time. Once the “bare minimum” starts to become a common practice, those elaborate spa days and binge days become more achievable.
Everyone says “it’s mind over matter”, and in some situations, that’s true. You are your own hardest critic, and getting wrapped up in negative and stressful thoughts is very damaging to mental health. When trapped in such thoughts, affirmations and reminders can really help to rationalize different situations. Try to take yourself out of your own mind, imagine what a friend would tell you if they knew what was going on. Analyze your thoughts; if someone else was in the same situation, would you say the same harsh and cruel words to them? In times of sleepless nights, reminding yourself about reality is especially important, after all, sleep is essential for anyone who wants to function during the day. If you are resting but you’re guilting or shaming yourself for not being productive the whole time, surprise, that’s not actually resting.
Affirmations should be something incorporated into all of our daily lives. Mental health is never easy, especially as teenagers in an age of social media. Phrases such as “I am loved. I am worthy. I am enough. I am strong,” are simple enough that they are effective without memorizing lots of words. Building yourself from the inside out is always the best way to go because being able to love and appreciate others starts with being able to love and appreciate yourself.
Studying, Not Stressing
No matter who you are, everyone has the same 24-hour day, the same 60-minute hour, and the same 60 second minute. With the exceptions of sleep, school, sports, etc, the time is yours to spend. It is essential to spend time doing something you enjoy, even if you have lots of work to do. For example, the day before a big test, studying is a must, but excessive studying will not help. Instead, follow the 20-5 routine, 20 minutes of focus, and 5 minutes of rest. I recommend the app “Pomofocus”, as it helps me give myself breaks in times of stress. To help make studying easier overall, studies (shown in this New York Times article, https://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/science/06color.html) show that you should ditch the black pens and pencils, and replace them with blue and red pens. Blue triggers creativity, while red helps to improve accuracy. When it comes to memorization, Quizlet is the best way to go. You can add different photos and definitions to make studying easier, not to mention all the different ways you are able to study on Quizlet. If you are ever in need of an Anatomy or French Quizlet, I’m the person to go to. I may or may not have gotten many 5-star reviews and many compliments on my Quizlets. When it comes down to it, stressing last minute over tests is never helpful. You understand what you’re doing, after all, you’ve taken the class. The best way to prep for a test is getting rest, eating a good breakfast before, and reminding yourself that you are smart enough to do anything you set your mind to. For everything I have just stated in this article, I do want to disclaim that this is what works for me. Please, if it doesn’t work for you at all or doesn’t work entirely, I implore you to not give up. Giving up is never the way to go, and you will find what works for you with time and experience. Never be afraid to ask for help from friends, parents, and teachers, because they really are there to support you. And with that, I wish you luck on your stress-free journey.