Today, many students across the country are facing an unprecedented school year, and with it, a new list of uncertainties, pressures, and stress. It has always been vital to send the message to young people that their mental health matters, but these unique circumstances have shed more light on the necessity of teaching self-care in our classrooms.
A self-care practice can have an extraordinary impact on a student's well-being, and taking breaks and moments of rest can actually increase productivity, academic performance, and creativity. Understanding the challenge but importance of implementing these practices - and in recognition of World Mental Health Day - our Learning to Work Counselors put together a few tips for students with easy ways to prioritize self-care. In addition, they've shared a few pieces of advice for fellow educators that will encourage a culture of mindfulness.
Tips for Students
Create a schedule. If you're studying from home, create a block schedule similar to what you'd follow at school. Be sure to build in time for small breaks, meals, and stretching.
Clear your day. When we’re experiencing stress, it can be easy to feel like we’re struggling to keep up. If stress is getting to you, work on cutting down the commitments in your life. Making space in your schedule will make things feel less rushed and give back your sense of control.
Breathe! Breathing might seem second nature - subconscious, even - but taking breaks to breathe mindfully can make a huge difference. Close your eyes, clear your mind, and focus on letting your breath fill your body for a few moments before resuming activity.
Take a moment to move. Physical activity is a great method of stress relief. Simple activities, like taking a ten minute walk around the block, can have a large impact on your mental well-being.
Leave enough time for quality sleep. Sleep is one of the building blocks for maintaining our physical and mental health. If you’re having trouble sleeping, there are great, free online tools, like white noise and sleep podcasts, that may help you build a healthy sleep routine.
Invest in your hobbies. A hobby can be a great way to channel your stress and worry, as well as an avenue to learn something new, participate in something you love, and do something just for you.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. The Learning to Work team at your school is ready and excited to help you be as successful as possible along every step of your journey!
Tips for Educators on Supporting Student Self-Care
Establish a regular routine. Reach out consistently or create regular times in which students can reach out to you, giving them a reliable place to turn to when they need additional support.
Talk about boundaries. Discuss the idea of creating healthy boundaries, reinforcing the importance of self-care and encouraging students to stick to the times they've built in for rest.
Be a resource gatherer. To ensure students are well informed, make resources about stress management readily available in the classroom.
Practice mindfulness together. Meditation and other mindfulness exercises, like these, are excellent ways to slow down and take a moment for yourself. Walking through and demonstrating options to students will help them take these skills into their daily lives.
Thank you to Aimee Kaplan, Elizabeth Brown-Whetstone, and Maciel Latingua for creating and sharing these tips for our community.