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Balancing School and Mental Health: Tips for Teens

Balancing School and Mental Health: Tips for Teens

Your education is everything. Since you were young, your parents may have focused heavily on whether or not you received good grades on your report card. Or maybe you put pressure on yourself to get into Ivy League colleges or to earn academic scholarships. Maintaining high grades takes a lot of work. If you’re not careful, your mental health could take a hit.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about your grades or doing your best. Instead, consider a few tips that can help you maintain mental well-being while also dealing with academic pressures.

Recognize the Importance of Mental Health

Academic success may seem like the most important goal right now, but it’s not worth compromising your mental health. If you’re always facing stress (a condition called chronic stress), you could be feeling some of the physical impacts from it, including:

  • Panic
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Muscle pain, especially tension
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Difficulty sleeping

These physical effects will impact your mental health. You may feel worried or nervous much of the time, or you may start to feel listless and sad. You may lose interest in hanging out with friends and doing fun activities. Not taking action to reduce your stress will make it that much harder to do well in school in the long term.  

Set Reasonable Expectations for Your Academics

What’s the reality of what you’re facing right now? If you don’t get an A, what will happen? One way to manage stress is to take time to get perspective on your situation. Think about your long-term goals and what really matters. If your expectations of yourself are not realistic, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Consider these tips:

  • Set goals for studying based on realistic outcomes. Don’t plan to cram for a test the night before and then not get any sleep. Work steadily throughout the week, creating a schedule for study that leaves time for play and rest. 
  • When learning something new or challenging, break it into pieces and tackle it in small steps.
  • Know when to get help. If you just cannot find a way to master a topic, reach out for help. 

Most importantly, don’t expect yourself to be perfect in everything you do. Be realistic about the amount of time you spend on your academics. Give yourself a mental and physical break.

Practice Self-Care

Did you know that your brain needs a bit of pampering every now and then? That’s not to say you need to spend the weekend watching movies on the couch (unless that’s really appealing to you right now). Instead, practice self-care:

  • Get 8 or more hours of sleep every night. Your brain needs sleep to recover from stress. 
  • Eat foods that are rich in nutrients, like fruits and vegetables. This helps ensure your body is working at its best level.
  • Take time to laugh. If you’re always serious, you’re missing out on dopamine – a powerful hormone that can drastically help to improve your overall mental health.
  • Have someone to talk to who understands you and is good at listening. This could be a parent, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, or a therapist. 
  • Know the importance of taking a break. If you have a hard time finding time for breaks, put them into your daily planner. They’re just as important as your work. 

You want to achieve big things, but you cannot do that if you’re not providing your brain and body with the care they need to work at their best. It’s not about doing more—more studying, more exercise, or more activities—but doing them in a smart way that keeps stress at a minimum. 

Put Your Mental Health First

If you feel like you cannot break through the enormous pressure you’re feeling, reach out for help. Our team at Willow Creek Behavioral Health works very closely with teens and adults to give them the support they need to work at their best.

If you’re struggling with any of the following, give us a call.

  • Anxiety that feels constant
  • Depression that makes it really hard for you to move forward
  • Stress that makes you feel overwhelmed and exhausted
  • Past or present trauma
  • Pressure from parents, schools, and peers that makes you feel like you cannot be you

Let Willow Creek give you the hands-on support you need. Contact us now to learn more. 

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