As you reach your high school graduation, it’s common to have a blend of positive and challenging emotions. Graduating from high school may trigger heightened levels of anxiety or depression in some students. If you are someone who is struggling to manage your tasks, responsibilities, and are feeling overwhelmed…and you’re not alone. It’s okay to seek out help and assistance, and to feel like this transition time is harder or different than what you envisioned. Here are some ways to support your mental and physical health and reduce your anxiety during this milestone:
Practice self-care: Prioritize your well-being by engaging in activities that make you feel good, such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and spending time with loved ones. Making huge lifestyle changes can feel like it’s “yet another thing you are failing at”, so we recommend choosing just one or two areas to improve at a time. Drinking more water or taking supplements is a great way to start, and both can be added to your daily routine without too much effort. If your mental health is struggling, it can be hard to begin new habits, so it’s okay to wait on a new habit until your emotional have stabilized.
Learn relaxation techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation into your daily routine to help you reduce stress and anxiety. If you are a competitive athlete, you probably do quite a bit of exercise, but it may not be relaxing exercise that your body needs.
Challenge negative thoughts: Identify and challenge negative thoughts that may be contributing to your anxiety. Replace them with positive and realistic thoughts that promote a sense of calm and confidence. If you are religious, you can add in times to pray or meditate, which are shown to reduce both stress and anxiety when they are added to your day.
Seek out support: Talk to friends, family members, or a trusted adult about your concerns. Sharing your thoughts and feelings can help you feel less alone and more supported. You may be surprised to find that many of the people in your life have experienced the same feelings of overwhelming anxiety or stress, and they may have new or innovative ideas that you’ve not thought of.
Seek professional help: Consider seeking professional help from a mental health provider if your anxiety is interfering with your daily life or if you’re struggling to manage it on your own. *Always remember that there is a national hotline if you are having suicidal ideations or if you know someone who is. If you aren’t comfortable talking with professional or making that appointment, consider asking a friend or family member to help you seek out the help you may need. There is no shame is asking for and receiving help.
Remember that it can be really common to experience high levels of anxiety during high school, but it doesn’t need to feel isolating. You are not alone, and what you are dealing with is not uncommon. It’s important to have excellent support systems and plans in place so that anxiety doesn’t overtake your well-being and academics, and so you can experience joy in this irreplaceable time in your life!