We all react to stress differently. Some people have panic attacks while others completely shut down and form this unstable mound of anxiety. I am the latter type.
Hello, nice to meet you I am Nainika and I am on the Teen Advisory Board for BC2M and I’d love to share some simple self-care tips and talk about my experience with mental health. So let’s get started (woot woot!).
As a high school student, I don’t sleep as much as I am supposed to. Continuously I hear doctors, parents, teachers, and other authority figures drill into my brain that sleep is important. And I really did not think it was. Until I wrote this article.
According to Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at National Institutes of Health, “sleep affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.” Research shows that lack of sleep increases the risk for obesity, heart disease and infections.
I didn’t know that. This is intense. Now, this is easy to brush off because not everyone could possibly have these health problems. AND there is a loophole called caffeine right? Hi my name is Nainika and I am here to shut that down for you as well. Many psychologists are concerned that a pattern of caffeine use by kids-teens may lead to subsequent problematic drug and alcohol use. Also the interference of caffeine with sleep could prevent neurological development that will be apparent in our adulthood. Overall, it is quite important and just work toward giving yourself time to rest (7-9 hours of sleep) because you deserve it (*freeze frame of us high-fiving).
We hear a lot about exercise as a form of relief, however, sometimes for me the thought of working out does not really make me feel the happiest. So I dance. It can literally range from trying to hit the beat to absentmindedly flailing my arms in the air so my mom has to come inside my room to scold me in Tamil (an Indian language).
For me, it is something that lets me physically let go of anything: that super hard math test, looming college apps, or just general anxiety.
Now, here are the benefits in terms of science. Along with any other physical activity, dance will release endorphins (these are like your very own painkillers) into your body which has been shown to alleviate any stress you may have. .Dancing also releases neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, that can help spread a sense of calm throughout your body.. It’s fun and relaxing so I highly recommend taking a class or dancing at home just to make your day a little better.
3) Listening to Music
Wow, we are at number 3 already? Well ONWARD. Now, listening to music has a similar calm effect like dancing does. For all the logical people (including myself) we will first delve into the science behind it. For one, during peak moments of music your brain can release dopamine which is a hormone that just screams “YOU MADE IT! YOU GOT THIS!”. Obviously, it won’t yell because hormones don’t talk.
Furthermore, in a study of a sample of children, music helped reduce pain as well as distress. Listening to a relaxing song can seriously help reduce someone’s anxiety while letting them be in the comfort of their home.
I, personally, listen to different types of music. Some artists that are quite calming for me are mxmtoon, Hozier, and Colbie Caillat. Don’t worry I am not going to plug my Spotify because this is not about my music taste. This is about what works for you because at the end of the day you will treat your body based on what has worked for you in the past.
This is personally one of my favorites. Since I keep my stress inside, whenever I write I am able to let it out but also keep it in a place that physically shows me how I am feeling and in a way validates it because of that tangible evidence.
It can also be done at any time and it works for all the characteristics that come with stress and for me personally, it helps with some anxiety. Try to write for 5-10 minutes every night. It can literally be about anything, whether it be how high school is overwhelming or that weird talking zucchini in your dream last night. This will organize your head and give the next day a higher chance of beauty compared to before.
Now it’s not just me who believes in the power of writing. According to the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report, they conducted a study that showed that writing about your emotions can help reduce stress or reduce anxiety as well as break the cycle of rumination (which causes overthinking and ultimately stress). Journaling also has the ability to improve cognitive functioning as well as decrease symptoms of asthma, arthritis, and other health conditions. It is in the research, I promise!!!
5)Talking to a caring someone
The last self care tip. Ok beautiful people let us finish with the bang. TALKING. As I mentioned before, I am someone who gets overwhelmed and shuts down. It is really hard to start talking to someone about how I am feeling because the smallest thing can shut me down forever. Well, not forever, but that’s what it can feel like.
But I am trying to become more open. I dance, listen to music, (attempt to) sleep more, write, and I feel calmer. Whether it be talking to your therapist or to your sibling, it requires effort and of course it is challenging to sift through what you are feeling, but at the end everything feels a lot cleaner. You feel a lot cleaner.
According to Psychology Today, social interactions boosts positive feelings of your well-being as well as decrease feelings of depression. The research done on social interactions have shown that building connections with others can improve your mood.
This is something that scientifically, and through my experience, has had many benefits. At the end of the day, these tips are all about working towards knowing how to handle your emotional and physical health. Acknowledging that you want to understand how you feel and talking to someone can be a powerful first step i this journey.
Know that self care is not a waste of time. NOT a waste of time. Once you find what works for you, self care will allow you to come back with a more motivated mindset and you will get through that last bit of work quicker.
And that’s a wrap on self-care tips! Wow we have come a long way. I hope in the end you take away at least one of the tips because I truly believe they can benefit your mental health in the long run. You are a beautiful human and most importantly I hope you wake up and look forward to everyday.