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Staying Healthy & Happy in High School

This blog post came to me one day when I was sitting in class, thinking about the crazy week I have coming up and wondering how I would be able to juggle tennis, multiple exams, and final projects that all demand my full attention and time. Coming out of a stressful few days this past week, I realized that the storm was definitely far from over. Long stretches of being constantly busy are a huge part of high school, especially during junior and senior year. It can be easy to give into the stress and develop unhealthy habits, but if you do this every time you're faced with a packed schedule, you'll end up constantly sacrificing your health - and your happiness will suffer too. Today, I thought I would share what I do to maintain my health (physically and mentally) and happiness in high school!

1. Find your sport. 

I actually look forward to playing tennis every day after school. Some may look at two hours of practice each day plus four-hour matches and think "that's such a time commitment, how will that help to reduce my stress if I'm already overscheduled with academics?". Logically, it does seem like it would add stress. However, while I do lose time that I could be spending doing school work, I find that working out does wonders for my stress levels. Honestly, what's better at the end of a long day than getting on a court and letting go of all your stress? Beyond just mental health, it also feels great to keep up your physical health and to feel strong.

No matter what your thing is (be it team sports or just hitting the gym), I'm a firm believer that being active is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy and happy in high school.

2. Indulge in something little every day.

You've probably heard the cliche "treat yourself". That sort of becomes my motto during really stressful times. Whenever I have a really busy week, I promise myself a latte from my favorite coffee shop in the morning. It helps me get out of bed and gives me something small to look forward to that instantly brightens my day. It's also a commitment to myself, and my way of reminding myself that my happiness and mental health matters even during the most stressful moments in my life.

Whether it's coffee, sparing a few minutes to have a jam session with your favorite power anthem, or even a nice facemask while you study, make sure you make an effort to indulge in something small to help alleviate your stress.

3. Make a plan.

I live, breathe, and will probably die by my agenda. It has my entire life in it - my monthly calendar, homework, assignments, daily to-dos, everything. Whenever I'm feeling like I just physically won't have enough time for everything on my plate, I open up my agenda to the weekly spread and map things out ahead of time. I break down bigger tasks into daily to-dos and prioritize what's high urgency vs. lower urgency based on due date, the time I expect things to take, and how late I'll be getting home from tennis/school on any given day.

Making a plan instantly takes a weight off my shoulders. Often, something that seems overwhelming looks a lot more manageable when you break it up and put everything on paper. Then, all you have to worry about is the to-do list you've set up for each day, and by the due date, you'll have everything done.

4. Prioritize yourself. 

During your most stressful days, it's important to put yourself first. Giving time to others is a huge part of how I live my life. However, I've learned that if I'm so busy that giving time to other people is making me stressed, I'm not in the right mental state to help them anyway. It's always better to be honest and say that you need to focus on getting things ticked off your to-do list than to stretch yourself way too thin helping one person with this assignment and a friend with another while your own work looms overhead.

5. Remember that you are incredible, and you can make it through. 

High school - especially junior and senior year - can often be a game of endurance. Take everything day by day, and know that even if it seems like you won't make it out alive, you will!



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