It’s getting to be midterms season here at the OHS and many of us can feel our stress level rising. Completing your regular amount of homework on top of studying for exams and writing extra essays may seem overwhelming at times. However, it is important to remember to take some time for yourself. Here are some tips on how to de-stress during this stressful time.
To begin with, break up homework and studying into manageable tasks or time slots depending on how you prefer to work. In between, take breaks where you get up and walk around. Because our bodies not being built to sit all day, I find that giving my mind a break improves my productivity after. It can be a 5 minute break to go to the kitchen to refill a glass of water or grab a snack, or if you find yourself working in longer chucks of time, fitting in PE or a quick episode of a show to relax. You can also create a reward system using these breaks.
It is important to remember that exercise is extremely valuable. Not only is it healthy, but personally I find that it helps me produce better work and be more efficient. If you’re getting fidgety sitting at your desk, try going out for a run or bike ride of 30 or so minutes and see if you feel better. If you don’t think you have enough time for that, running or walking around your house a few times will stretch your legs as well as getting you out in the sun (or rain, which I like, but you may choose to avoid).
When it comes to food, I would suggest some nuts, cherry tomatoes, carrot or celery sticks with a dip of your choice, sliced pears or apples, or other fruits and vegetables. Pretzels, crackers, and other such salty foods also make delicious snacks. Try to avoid candies and sweets, but you can always reward yourself with occasional treats. Oh, and don’t forget to drink liquids! If you can, try to eat with your family for the main meals of the day. Not only does it give you time to talk with them (given you enjoy spending time your family), but it gets you away from school work and gives your mind some more time to rest.
In homeroom recently, many of us talked about sleep habits and the amount teenagers should be getting. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens should be getting about 9 ¼ hours of sleep, though for some, 8 ½ is enough. As noted in a number of homerooms, many of us are only just barely getting 8 hours on good nights. I know it’s often tough to make time for sleep, but the National Sleep Foundation also says it really does improve your well-being. Even if you can’t make it every night, try to set up a sleep schedule that allows you to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and 9 if possible. You will hopefully find that it helps you focus during the day. A quick tip for getting your body ready for bed is to avoid computer screens for at least an hour beforehand. However, given that we go to an online school, this is usually difficult to achieve. The main issue with computer screens is the kind of light they give off, which is supposed to mimic the sun. Apps, such as Flux, allow you to combat this by dimming and tinting the color of the screen.
For some, when notes are organized and a schedule is laid out, life suddenly becomes so much simpler. If you relate to this, it is worth taking the time to systematize your notes and create a plan for when to get things done. Whether you like lists or diagrams or whatever else helps you, do it. While stressing out it may seem as though you don’t have the time to lay everything out, but trust me, it’s worth it. Create a list of everything you need to get done, an estimated time for how long those tasks will take, and then lay them out in the time you have.
Finally, pick one or two things you enjoy doing that are also relaxing. This might be reading a book, drawing, practicing an instrument, or dancing. Make sure to incorporate this into your day; they’re a perfect activity for your breaks, or if they don’t fit then, see if you can spend some time before bed or when you wake up. Showers and baths also work for this; essentially find something that requires very little brainpower or is distracting (and requires focus but not much effort). Good luck on your exams, study hard, but don’t forget to take care of yourself and reserve time to unwind!
Editor’s Note: OHS cares about your well-being. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please contact the folks in the Counseling Department, who can provide one-on-one confidential short-term counseling, develop a longer-term strategy for time- and stress-management, and direct you towards resources OHS already has in place. All middle-school students should contact Ms. Darlene Jacokes (firstname.lastname@example.org); high-school students with last names A-K should contact Ms. Chloe Benjamin (email@example.com); and last names L-Z should contact Dr. Tracy Steele (firstname.lastname@example.org).