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Self-care tips to boost your mental health

Opinion & Analysis
Knowing your plans for the day when you wake up can immediately reduce anxiety. This exercise also helps you determine what you can do reasonably, since there is only so much time in the day. Be realistic and set appropriate expectations for yourself.

THE COVID-19 pandemic and its variants have caused huge changes and challenges in all our lives. Many of our plans have been derailed or changed course. You may have lost your job; if you are still employed, you might be worried about your safety at work. You are probably worried for the health of your loved ones or yourself.

All of these are stressful and it is normal to feel sad, anxious, frightened, angry or whatever other emotions you might be experiencing right now. The stress of the pandemic makes it extra important to practice self-care, and the tips below can help you with this.

Prioritise The simple act of writing a to-do list has productivity benefits, even if you do not accomplish all of your tasks. That is because our brains love order and shut down in chaos. Write all your “to-dos” on paper, in order of most to least important. From there, you can start to schedule your days and even weeks.

Knowing your plans for the day when you wake up can immediately reduce anxiety. This exercise also helps you determine what you can do reasonably, since there is only so much time in the day. Be realistic and set appropriate expectations for yourself.

Take breaks Take your mind off school and any other stressors. Do a crossword puzzle, read a chapter of a non-school book, or journal, while listening to music. Find an outlet that does not feel like work and incorporate it into your daily routine. Take breaks as often as you need to relax and rejuvenate, but not so many that you end up procrastinating.

Get fresh air Walk around the block or go to the park. Just get outside and get moving, every single day. Do some light stretching while you are at it. You do not have to push yourself too hard to get the benefits — all forms of exercise release endorphins (the chemicals that make you feel good) and they reduce cortisol (the chemical that makes you feel bad).

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. No matter how busy you get, always make your health a priority. In addition to the physical benefits, people who eat well and exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety and depression. Those feel-good chemicals we mentioned … your brain needs those to thrive, and food is equally important for good mental health.

In addition to eating nutritious meals, you might consider yoga classes — particularly great for stress relief. Or, if you want something a little more up-tempo, try boxing. Take your frustrations out on the bag as you keep active! Win-win.

Reach out to family and friends. Your personal network is your support system. Friends and family want to see you succeed. When you are stressed or doubting yourself, rely on the people who encourage you or make you feel unstoppable. They may even offer you a new perspective you had not considered.

Write down positive affirmations Writing down positive affirmations is surprisingly effective in shaping how we view ourselves. Think about what you need to hear right now, and then be your own biggest fan. Keep your affirmations visible with sticky notes, at the top of your to-do list or wherever you will see them often. Here are a few possible examples:

I trust myself to make the right decisions.

I face each day with joy.

I am in charge of my life.

Am I good enough? Yes I am.

Treat yourself You work hard, but what is all that hard work worth if you cannot enjoy yourself? Sleep an extra hour, or sip on a sugary latte every once and a while. In life, it is often the little things that make the biggest impact. Depriving yourself of small comforts will only take a toll on your mental health, so do not feel guilty for indulging sometimes. You will be happier and, therefore, in a better head space to tackle your commitments.

Meditate Meditation seems simple — all you have to do is sit there and breathe, right? The challenge is finding the time to do it. When we feel overloaded, our self-care often takes a back seat. Meditation brings you back to the present, and counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

Know when it is time to unplug The constant notifications of news and social media posts have us all feeling saturated by coronavirus updates right now. While it is important to stay informed, rereading the same headlines can be consuming. Instead of constantly refreshing your social media feeds or staying glued to the television, find a few trusted news sources you can check in with two to three times a day— Teen Kids News

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