Senior year is a major milestone! You’ve probably been looking forward to the final year of your high school career for what feels like forever, and now it’s finally here. But in the midst of the deadlines, the scholarship applications, and more…how do you cope? When the realities of senior year set in, many students struggle with feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out. These days, mental health has (finally) become forefront in many people’s minds, and we are so glad. There is no shame in learning how to talk about and address the stressors in your everyday life, much less the many stressors that come your way during senior year. Here are some simple ways to practice self care during one of the biggest years of your life:
-Don’t be afraid to speak up: It’s hard to ask for help, and you may be someone who want to “muscle through” the struggles you are facing. But feelings of stress and anxiety don’t have to be “normal” and everyday for you, and it’s okay to admit you are having trouble coping. Maybe you are nervous about leaving home for the first time, or nervousness about how you will meet the financial demands for you and your family as you head off to college. Perhaps your grades are dipping due to a hectic schedule, or friendships are changing as you near the end of high school. Any of these things can really effect your stress levels. Find a trusted adult or parent who can talk to you about these things, or even a school counselor. Find someone you can go to with no judgment, who will be a safe person for your emotions and difficulties this year. Even if you never face a huge crisis, simply having someone in your corner can make a world of difference.
-Get healthy: During senior year, your physical health is actually quite important. Your diet, sleep, and health habits can cultivate a good or bad environment for your mental health and if you take a good look at your lifestyle, you may find that a steady diet of fast food and no sleep may be taking it’s toll. A poor diet and low sleep can make you less resilient to stress and impending responsibilities, which can make you feel even worse. If you are able to, begin putting as much healthy food into your body as you can (we are not talking about weight, but rather making healthy choices), such as grass fed proteins, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Drink tons of water (which is also great for your skin), and try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. You may be surprised to find that your physical health is very much linked to your mental health.
-Find the coping strategies that work for you: Think about your ideal way to spend a free day, and that may be something that will relax or encourage you when times are tough. Things like sleeping, catching up on your favorite television show, a bubble bath, reading a good book, or drinking a warm cup of coffee can all be ways you can be gentle on yourself and give you a way to cope when the world feels too difficult.
-Get organized: One way you can take care of your mental health is to get organized so you are not always playing catch-up or feeling behind. Though it can feel like a lot of work at the outset, it is actually a great way to protect yourself from missing your responsibilities and sabotaging your efforts to stay on top of things. A day planner is a wonderful way to keep track of your assignments, senior project, college visits, and even your budget. If you are someone who usually procrastinates and then becomes emotional when it’s hard to catch back up, this is probably a great strategy to help you remain calm under pressure.
No matter what comes your way during senior year, don’t forget to be gentle with yourself, and look for people who can lift you up and support you when you are feeling low. If you ever are having thoughts of suicide, or have friends who you are concerned about, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.