By: Amanda Sherman
Coming out of an interminable lockdown, it is no surprise that many students are struggling to adapt to the new normal. With school capacity largely limited and clubs virtually dormant, teenagers are feeling alone these days. As a high school junior experiencing a sense of purposelessness, I know how painful it is. However, it is important to remember that despite all of the chaos in today's world, we all possess more control over our lives than we realize. Here are some helpful lessons about how to obtain a solid grasp on your mental health - and hold onto it - with the guidance of people who very much pondered the same question thousands of years ago.
As the hustle and bustle of daily life consume our consciousness, it is excruciating to overcome the current that pushes us forward. After months of toasty mornings sleeping in late, the shift back to a heavily regimented routine can be frustrating. Feeling like you're not enough can become like a perpetual thorn puncturing any motivation to get stuff done. It aches, watching how successful others seem to be and not receiving the same results yourself. Before you go down this rabbit hole of self-deprecation, tell yourself that those who are slow and steady win the race. Even if you aren't getting every task done in one day, as long as you are making consistent progress, authentic growth will come. Just give it time.
How many of you have been procrastinating on school assignments, bored of staring at a Zoom screen for six hours straight? I know I sure have. Students report receiving much more homework on average during this transition out of quarantine, making them experience loads of stress. The desire to throw it all aside and play Among Us with friends is strong, my friend, but you must be stronger. If you want to achieve an A in AP Chemistry by the end of the semester, the effort that is put into your schoolwork must be top-notch. So turn off your phone and get started - no complaints are allowed.
What happens when you crash and burn? There's no end in sight. All there is to do is to lie on the couch all day and give up. Every person in this world's history has gone through the same sensation, from Albert Einstein to Sheryl Sandberg. Yet, they didn't let themselves be overpowered by failures long ago - notice how ¨failures¨ is plural - they instead took it step by step, conquering their fears using sheer stubbornness. Persistence is key during a time when very little is certain. When the situation settles down once again, it will get easier. For now, though, the only direction to face is forward.
While efficiency is expected in this hyper-connected world, burning out follows soon after. No matter how fast everyone else may be going, it is absolutely essential to take some time to reflect and meditate. Even half an hour per day will go a long way to keeping your mental state balanced. Like the breeze that passes by a serene lake, nature is peaceful and relaxed. No matter what happens, you will survive. Create a plan, slow down, and do it right. And don't be afraid to enjoy yourself along the way!
When you are given an entire day to do whatever you want, will it be used for wise purposes? For most of us, the answer is no. The temptation to be lazy is powerful; however, the people who succeed in life are the ones who are not afraid to put in the hard work when it is needed. Although human beings are influenced very strongly by our environment (e.g., pressure from our parents to do well on tests, our friends wanting us to play a sport with them), you are the one who is ultimately in control. Take back that power by being responsible for your actions.
There are countless pieces out there on why self-care is necessary for living a good life. While it is true that everybody needs time to recuperate from the business of day to day business, it is the pleasure of overcoming personal pain that will build up your empire. So don't be afraid. Start disciplining yourself now while the night is still young, and perhaps, in a decade, you will be sitting upon a treasure chest. Best of luck, my friend!