By Talia Feinsod, Staff Writer
I bet you’re all sick of hearing the words “uncharted and challenging times”. And, I bet you’re all really sick of hearing about “managing mental health” and “coping in quarantine”. But it needs to be said: mental health is so important right now and very hard to manage. Nobody, trust me, nobody is doing as well as you may think they are because of what they post on Instagram. Don’t get bogged down in comparing yourself to others. Instead, try to find little ways you can help each day along. Here’s what I aspire to do daily to keep myself on track (keyword: aspire). Usually, it works pretty well. But, there are some days when it doesn’t. When I just want to stay in bed, curled up with cozy blankets, fantasizing about taking a sledgehammer to all the devices in my home — and that’s okay too.
Learn how to trick your mind!
1. Set Your Alarm Earlier Than You Want to Wake Up So Hitting the Snooze Button Doesn’t Make You Late
Full disclosure, I’m that person. I could spend hours lying in bed scrolling through Instagram and TikTok (kills me to say it, but it’s true). You have to learn how to cheat your system. By setting my alarm five or ten minutes earlier, I still get the satisfaction of hitting snooze, but I don’t risk sleeping too late. Whether I spend those extra ‘snooze’ minutes actually snoozing or falling into the seemingly endless depths of the internet, that depends on the day. What matters is that I’ve set up roadblocks for myself. If you really struggle with that, maybe kick it old school: get an alarm clock. This could help you limit the number of distractions you face waking up in the morning.
2. Make Distinctions Between School and Not School
To eliminate extra stress in our lives, it’s super important to keep boundaries between school and not school. When you wake up for school, try to change out of the clothes you slept in. I’m all for wearing pajamas all day, but putting on a different comfy outfit instead of wearing the one you rolled out of bed in will help you get in the ‘school’ mindset. I’ll also add, though this may be an unpopular opinion; look good, feel good! If you’re feeling down and unmotivated, try putting on some real clothes for a change.
Another suggestion is keeping your school stuff organized and in its own space. Having a clean space to sit down during your school day will help you feel more prepared and productive. If you haven’t already, it is time to clean the clutter off your desk and set yourself up there. I really suggest not working from your bed or couch. Though it may be comfortable, looking down at the computer can cause a lot of strain on your neck and back.
3. Keep Your Body Healthy
We are asking our bodies to do a lot right now. It may not seem that way, but we are. At the end of each synchronous learning day for the past few weeks, I would lie on the floor face down with my eyes closed, stretching my arms and legs out as far as I could while listening to my bones snap-crackle-pop. I took that exhaustion as a sign that I needed to change something.
One thing that has made a huge difference has been putting my computer screen on ‘night shift’. This cuts the blue light from my computer screen and causes far less strain on the eyes. It’s also essential to look away from the screen, ideally out the window at something far away. Stretch your eye muscles the same way you stretch other muscles in your body.
4. Drink Water
This gets its own bullet point. Drink so much water, and spend time in the sun! Humans are basically houseplants when you get down to it. Water and fresh air will help the headaches go away, and you’ll probably find that you sleep better too after spending time outside. Drinking water will also help your hair and skin be healthier and better hydrated. Just drink water.
5. Pay Attention to What’s Happening
If you find yourself tired each day, try to go to bed earlier. Eat more fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Push past the powerful urge to procrastinate everything until the last minute so you can relax when it’s over, instead of stressing about how much time is left until the deadline. Try working out or getting into yoga or meditation. Allow yourself to take time to pause.
We must check in on each other. We may be seven months into this strange new way of life, but still, nobody has done this before! Despite the comfort of pajamas, this school year is nothing but relaxing. Our bodies and minds are not used to this. Everyone is still figuring out how to cope and motivate themselves. If none of these tips work for you, don’t be discouraged: everybody and everybody works differently. Let this be a motivator to listen to your body and find ways to make your day more manageable. Whether it be deciding to get dressed in real clothes every morning (hey, remember jeans? Belts?!) or adjusting your school workspace to better suit your needs. It’s a process that all of us are still learning. Best of luck!
Featured Photo: Microsoft