Back to school is on its way…and that can be stressful, right? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll break down a few ways you can start the school year strong so you can spend less time worrying and more time living your best life. Read on to learn more!
Practice Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule Before School Starts
Sleep is an essential part of maintaining your overall health, but more than likely, you aren’t getting enough of it. The CDC found that at least 70% of high schoolers don’t get enough sleep during the school year. This is likely due to poorly adjusted sleep schedules.
To avoid being sleepy-eyed during those morning bellringers, practice your school sleep schedule before the year begins. That way, you’ll have no problems once things get rolling. You can even create a bedtime routine to help you stick to your new sleep schedule. This can include laying out your clothes for the next day, pre-packing your backpack, or taking time to do some nightly reading.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teenagers get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep per day. So, if you have to catch the bus at 6:00 AM, be sure to hit the bed by 9:00 PM so you can get 8 hours of sleep, wake up at 5:00 AM, and have an hour to prepare before the bus arrives.
Just like how a bedtime routine can help you stick to your new sleep schedule, creating a morning routine that is designed to help you prepare for the day can help you start strong. These can include stretching, practicing breathing exercises, meditating, or journaling before breakfast.
Once school starts, try and stay aware of what is causing you stress–is it first period’s morning assignments or that Chemistry class at the end of the day? Is it lunch period or gym class? Once you can pinpoint the time of day, class, or activity that is causing you stress, you can properly prepare yourself beforehand. Practicing stress awareness can also help you avoid becoming overwhelmed from the gradual increase in work, responsibilities, and commitments you have as the school year unfolds.
Make a Plan
In addition to your routines, make a plan in case you need more support. Local resources, such as SAMHSA’s new 988 hotline, are available in case you’re in mental distress and need to talk to someone or access mental health resources. 988 makes connecting with a crisis counselor easy with call, text, and chat options. It’s also free, available 24/7, and will not result in first responder dispatch or hospitalization (unless someone’s life is at risk). Your school may also offer mental health resources, such as free counseling or course accommodation.
You can also find mental health support at health clinics that receive Title X funding. Many of these clinics offer mental health screenings that may be useful if you suspect you have a mental disorder. You can access the results of these screenings, without parental consent so you can more easily start treatment if you are found to have a mental health disorder.
(FYI: You can also get contraception, like condoms and birth control, from Title X funded clinics without your parents’ consent. Making a plan for your mental health, as well as your reproductive health, is a great way to ensure your overall wellbeing).
Take a Deep Breath
Above all else, try to relax! Back to school can be stressful, but it can also be an exciting and fun time when properly prepared for. And we’re here for you every step of the way. If you have any health questions or concerns, feel free to ask our health experts or check out our FAQ page for quick access to the facts.
A Quick Note for Parents & Educators
Above all, listen to teens when they say they are stressed or anxious. It can be extremely intimidating for teens to confide in their parents or teachers about personal topics like mental health. They may feel that their needs will be dismissed or that they will be stigmatized for asking for help. So, when they do reach out to you, listen, be supportive, and help them get the treatment they need.
Also, be sure to reach out to a teen if they suddenly seem reserved, anxious, or excessively distracted. These changes in behavior may be signs of excessive stress and it’s worth having a conversation with them to see if they need support. Not only will you help them build trust, but you’ll also help them feel more comfortable accessing the resources they need to maintain their mental health.
Ready to get started on your back-to-school plan? Click here to check out our comprehensive clinic finder to locate a provider near you. To learn more about mental health, stress awareness, and other wellness tips, check out these articles: