By Haylee Thorson
This is not the school year that anyone wanted. Football games and homecoming have been replaced with Zoom meets and masks. Spirit week and pep rallies have been substituted with social distancing and online classes. Student council and SAT prep have been abandoned for virtual testing and video chats. If this school year has taken a toll on you, you are not alone. This year is unlike anything anyone has ever experienced before and it can be hard to find ways to cope. Whether you’re in middle school or high school, if you’re having trouble dealing with the pandemic, try following a few of these self-care tips and see if they lead to any improvements in your physical and mental well being.
1. Avoid Procrastination
Listen, I procrastinate just as much as the next person, and let me tell you—it sucks. Putting off simple tasks for hours or even days on end causes so much unnecessary stress and anxiety and makes your life way harder than it needs to be. So, here are a few tips guaranteed to combat procrastination and its unsavory effects.
Create a To-Do List: Start each day by writing down all of the important things that you want to accomplish. This can include anything from writing an English paper to setting aside 10 minutes for a quick ab workout. Make an effort to cross out each task when you’re finished with it and watch as your tasks become less and less daunting.
Pay Attention to Productivity: Ever notice that certain time of day when you’re able to knock stuff out like a champ? That’s called your “peak time.” Figure out which times you have the most energy and make an effort to complete your hardest tasks during that window. That way, you’ll be able to relax during those times when you’re feeling a bit more sluggish.
Break Down Big Projects: Sometimes the sheer volume of work that we’re faced with is enough to make us avoid it entirely. That’s why it’s extremely important to break big projects up into smaller, more attainable tasks. Let’s say you have one week to complete a presentation for your science class. By setting bite-sized goals to accomplish each day, you’re allowing yourself all of the time you need to get everything done without burning yourself out.
2. Follow a Daily Routine
Maintaining structure during stressful times is the key when it comes to preserving your mental health. If you’re going to school online, it can feel impossible to follow a schedule, so that’s why it’s important to create your own. Here are a few ideas for establishing a daily routine and making sure you stick to it:
Set an Alarm: Even if your classes are asynchronous, it’s imperative that you still make an effort to wake up at the same time every day. If you’re waking up at 11 a.m. some days and 8 a.m. others, you’re likely to feel all over the place. By setting your alarm for the same time each morning, you’ll have an easier time waking up, you’ll sleep better at night, you’ll feel less sleep-deprived, and you’ll be able to focus a lot better throughout the day.
Schedule Time to Relax: To avoid dreading your daily routine, be sure to designate specific times to chill throughout the day. Whether you decide to watch Netflix for an hour while you’re eating your lunch or scroll through TikTok after your morning workout, it’s so important to carve out time to do the things you enjoy. Not only will this motivate you to finish your important tasks, but it will also give you something to look forward to each day.
Be Flexible: Contrary to popular belief, routines do not have to be rigid. If you create a schedule for yourself that is so strict that you hate it, you’re not going to stick to it. Give yourself time to breathe and don’t beat yourself up if you need to skip a step. This is a stressful time and no one expects you to be perfect!
3. Nourish Your Mind, Body, and Soul
This is by far the most important act of self-care you can do for yourself. When you treat your mind and body with love and affection, you’re able to develop a healthier relationship with yourself and those around you. If you’re struggling to develop habits that will help you feel better on the inside and outside, here are a few tips to get you started:
Practice Gratitude: Even if gratitude isn’t the first thing on your mind given the current state of our world, it’s still important to look for silver linings every day. Whenever you have a bit of free time, sit down, and create a list of everything you’re grateful for. Whether it’s having the opportunity to learn new things or getting to spend a little bit of extra time with family, always remember that things are not as bad as they might seem.
Get Your Body Moving: It is so important to get a little bit of exercise every day. Whether it be walking, rollerblading, or swimming, find an activity that you enjoy and stick to it. Not only will this keep your body healthy and in shape, but it will also “decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.” Also, it can help improve relaxation and sleep quality—two factors which are vital to your overall well being.
Maintain Relationships: This year can feel incredibly isolating, so it’s imperative to stay in touch with people who make us feel good. Spend time with your parents, siblings, and friends whenever you can, and avoid shutting yourself off from the world. And if the people you love live far away, schedule weekly phone calls and/or video chats to maintain that sense of connection. Even though things are tough right now, your loved ones will always be there for you.
Haylee Thorson is an editorial writer who specializes in beauty, culture, and travel. Follow her on Instagram @hayleethorson.