We are living in challenging times. From the pandemic, to racial injustice, to worldly pressures, to financial challenges, to job or academic stress, it is no wonder that people are struggling.
Yet God’s Word speaks to the concept of thriving, or growing vigorously and prospering. Even in the midst of challenging circumstances, we are to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and rely on him to carry us through. The hard times can be times of pruning and necessary for our growth, but we must be attentive to our mental health so that we can focus on all the learning, growing, and serving that God has for us!
So, what are tangible ways to get through a difficult season? Based on advice from Christian Heritage Academy’s Dr. Ivy Li, Upper School counselor, and Mrs. Jessica Kurpiel, CHA social worker, we’ve developed some simple steps for students to manage their mental health. Practices like these will be helpful through life as we experience all the ups and downs!
5 Self-Care Steps for Students
#1 – NAME YOUR FEELINGS
We are so used to simple “feeling” answers, like “fine,” “okay,” or “good.” However, there are SO many emotions and feelings a person can experience…we’re talking hundreds. Maybe you’re perplexed, doubtful, absorbed, paralyzed, crushed, hopeful, irritated, or uneasy? A simple internet search can lead you to a list of Feeling Words to help expand your emotional vocabulary so that you can construct and articulate your emotional experiences. We challenge you to give this a try, especially during the environment in which we are living.
#2 – NOTICE YOUR BODY
Do you realize that our bodies give us signals? Things like an upset stomach, headache, sweating, unsteady breath, shaking, or feeling warm, can be cues that we may need to make some adjustments (take a break, take a nap, drink water, go on a walk) or reach out to an adult for help.
#3 – NOTE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Sometimes the environment we are in is a trigger for emotions and feelings. This is very normal. Examples may include: weather conditions, loud noises, transitions, not getting enough sleep, being hungry, etc. When you are able to use your growing emotional vocabulary to describe the effect your environment is having on you, you’ll be able to better address the problem, whether that be through self-regulation or communicating your needs to a caring adult or friend.
#4 – NURTURE YOURSELF
Scripture explains how God feels about you. You are “beloved,” “chosen,” His “workmanship,” a “treasure,” and “precious.” (Read those descriptions of you again and let that sink in!) Taking care of yourself is a way to honor God and his handiwork. How do you care for yourself? Maybe you practice deep breathing, listening to or making music, exercising or playing sports, taking a break, going for a walk, talking to a friend, reading, watching funny videos, stretching, using a fidget toy, drawing, playing a game, journaling, reading the Bible, or finding ways to laugh. Maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle–exercise, sleep, nutrition, time to relax, healthy boundaries–are all important and a way to honor God.
#5 – NOTIFY YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM
It is important to reach out when you are struggling. Talking with a friend is a great start, but please also reach out to a trusted adult at school, in your family, or in your community. You are not alone!
He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.