4 Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care in High School

The last two years of high school introduce a whole new level of stress and anxiety. With the pressure of maintaining high grades and applying to colleges, it’s incredibly difficult to set time aside just for yourself. However, the stress is definitely real and pushing that anxiety to the side won’t work forever. That’s why it’s so crucial to practice self-care, to whatever degree you feel fits, for physical and mental wellness. As a busy student, these four tips may help promote a better routine:

1. Stretch your body regularly.

High school is admittedly very demanding. It requires endless hours of doing homework and studying for multiple exams in the same week. Consequently, most students find themselves bending over their textbooks from the same chair for who knows how long? While the consequences of horrible posture aren’t immediately apparent, years of it will certainly complicate daily activities in the long run. (Maybe you’ve heard of a bunch of college students already complaining about back problems?) For a lot of people, self-care seems like only activities that they engage in for fun. However, self-care goes way beyond that, and incorporates practices that people tend to overlook despite being basic, necessary actions that improve their quality of life in profound ways. So, taking a few minutes to stretch your body, whether it be a half an hour on the treadmill or a quick morning Sun Salutation, can be the quick boost of self-care that you need.

2. Get enough sleep.

In much the same way, sleep is something that many students take for granted. It feels easy to sacrifice a few hours of sleep to finish up the last assignment, since those missed hours can be made up the next day. However, that can just turn into an awful cycle of chronic exhaustion and lead to minimized ability to focus on anything throughout the day. For the busy high school student, especially during their junior or senior year, even little things like sleep and relaxation can be regarded as essential self-care practices. This can be a 30-minute nap after school or the full eight hours of sleep per night, or even both. Naps especially shouldn’t be considered a waste of one’s time, because even a break like that from anything school-related can enhance one’s productivity throughout the remainder of the day. After all, it’s more appealing to take an hour-long break and finish up all your schoolwork in three hours as opposed to working on mind-numbing assignments for eight consecutive hours. Additionally, you can maximize the amount of sleep you get with solid time management skills; that way, you can maintain a steady rhythm of productivity without burning yourself out. Check out our article for some advice on improving time management.

3. Study in different spaces.

One of the worst things about homework is how it often feels like a chore. There’s nothing wonderful about being cooped up in your room or library for endless hours. The monotonous tasks just seem to drag the day out before the cycle repeats for the next six days of the week. As a result, some students may feel as though it’s not possible to enjoy themselves during the weekdays. That’s a very pessimistic mentality to have, because it can easily drain one’s own sense of motivation and overall happiness. What I’ve found to be particularly fulfilling is incorporating my study time into places I genuinely want to visit. So rather than locking myself up in my room, I’d settle for studying at any café I’d want to visit. Not only would the café’s aesthetic make me feel fuzzy and content on the inside, but it was also nice being able to sit by myself and recollect the day’s events in a peaceful setting. Not only that, but indulging in a latte and a few baked goods is an amazing way to treat yourself. Of course, there are tons of other places that students can consider, like a shady bench at the park or even a friend’s house instead. It’s all about what makes you feel comfortable and content.

4. Do something you enjoy every day.

While engaging in healthy activities every day qualifies as self-care, it’s always nice to do things that aren’t necessarily “productive.” It’s our job to make each day rewarding and fulfilling, and the only way to really do that is to engage in things that truly make us happy. Whether that be watching an hour of TV, playing video games with friends, or reading a favorite novel, be sure to dedicate a small portion of your day to something you love. At the end of the day, a person’s quality of life shouldn’t have to be defined by how productive they were with school and other commitments. As rewarding as they may feel because of all the subsequent benefits (i.e., praise and validation from teachers/peers/family), all that won’t seem to matter as much if you feel miserable in the long run. It’s always important to find the right balance in your life, where you can still manage to juggle all your responsibilities while also partaking in activities you enjoy, either alone or with others. That, at least to me, sounds like the real key to success.

Self-care is hard to incorporate into a high schooler’s busy life. Even an hour purely to oneself can feel like a waste, and it’s quite natural to feel that way. However, it’s imperative for everyone to recognize the toxicity of that mentality and to take conscious steps towards eradicating that mentality. If self-care can bring anyone happiness and even a small degree of fulfillment, isn’t that worth it?