Starting the school year off with a positive outlook is so important for our mental health and well-being. Holly Stewart, Registered Psychologist and LRSD's Clinical Team Lead, shares eight suggestions to set yourself up for a successful school year.
1. Be intentional about how you spend your time. Socialize. Connect with your friends, family, and important people and activities in your life. Immerse yourself in the things that bring you joy.
2. Get outside. There are so many health benefits to simply spending time in nature; taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world can do wonders to reduce our feelings of stress and anxiety and elevate our mood.
3. Get your body moving. Going to the gym, hiking, biking, walking or running will all activate your endorphins, again helping to reduce sensations of stress and elevate sensations of feeling good and invigorated.
4. Be present and in the moment. Truly give your time and attention to those you are interacting with. This will foster greater connections and strengthen your relationships. This also relays a message of authenticity and value to those we interact with and care about.
5. Take some time away from social media and digital devices. While technology can be helpful, too much screen time can negatively impact mental health, often resulting in increased sensations of distress, loneliness and symptoms of anxiety. Challenge yourself to limit your use, give your brain a break, and instead engage with other fulfilling activities - your mental health will thank you.
6. Get good sleep. Sleep is so important! Having a regular sleep schedule will help to keep you in an optimal state for learning. This means going to bed at an appropriate time and at the same time nightly, and removing digital devices at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light produced by digital devices is known to suppress the production of our natural sleep hormones in our bodies. In addition, having devices in our rooms often means that we are up all hours of the night texting and scrolling when we should be sleeping, which can have a tremendous negative impact on our mood and sense of well-being. Stand-alone alarm clocks work wonders! Once again, limit the amount of time spent on digital devices. Everything in moderation is key to keeping ourselves feeling balanced and well-able to manage.
7. Do your best to make organization a priority. This will help to reduce feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope or manage. Using a calendar, or day planner will help to manage time more effectively and will minimize stress and confusion when it comes to assignments and important deadlines. This is a great practice to get into and helps us all to navigate our busy lives.
8. Surround yourself with good people. It is important to surround yourself with supportive people that provide encouragement and improve our sense of belonging. Seek out friends and classmates who inspire and accept you. Be authentic and honest in conversations with them, sharing your worries and seeking guidance when needed. When times feel extra tough, reach out to these supports. You are not alone. If you are struggling with your mental health, seek help from a school counsellor, teacher, or mental health professional. Having a safe person to talk things through with can help you to have greater clarity, feel more at ease and get you back on track with living your best life.