Ways to Improve our Mental Health

     According to the American Psychological Association, nearly half of teens in America are affected by stress and anxiety primarily caused by school pressures. Our teens and students today are more stressed than ever before. Between sports, school work, extracurricular activities, and family responsibilities, teenagers can become very overwhelmed and begin to struggle to handle so much responsibility, which can result in stress or anxiety. Luckily, there is help for everyone. Whether you, your friend, or even a family member is struggling with anxiety, there are so many ways to help cope and deal with our mental health. 

     Getting more sleep is such an easy way to improve our mental health. Many teenagers stay up late talking with friends or scrolling through social media, and while they may be a routine way to end their long days, it is not a very good habit. It is recommended for teenagers to get 8-10 hours of sleep per night, and according to studies most teenagers on average only recieve 7 hours. This sleep we are lacking is so important because it helps give our brains time to repair from a long day of use, and also helps with processing information without being interrupted. Teenagers who are not getting enough sleep can experience extreme irritability and mood swings. Lack of sleep can even cause one to become angry with themselves and with life in general. Getting enough sleep is essential to relieving stress and boosting our mental health.

     Similar to sleep, letting our body relax in ways like yoga and meditation can positively impact our mental health and stress levels. This stress relief method is super easy and can be as long or as short as we need it to be. Yoga is a good way to breathe and let your body move. It can help relax your muscles, as well as your brain, and brings your mind a sense of where you are in your life. Meditation is very beneficial to stress because it lets our mind wander off to the positive things in life, and pulls our minds away from our struggles for even a few minutes. These methods can really help us to connect with ourselves and our bodies. 

     Although every teenager wants to deny it, cell phones and social media usage play a big role in our mental health. Social media is shown to cause FOMO, isolation, and feelings of unworthiness in teenagers. Teens scroll through social media for hours looking at all these other users with seemingly perfect lives and envy them for what they have. Something as simple as stalking a model’s instagram account, can convince teenagers they are not good enough, resulting in things like depression, or even severe eating disorders. These obsessions are not healthy, and social media is not everything. Taking time away from our cell phones and these platforms to focus on ourselves and the real world, is a very good way to ease our stress and improve our mental health overall.

     Sometimes, our stress is not solvable by getting extra sleep, meditating, or even spending less time on our phones. Everyone is different and that is okay. Some people might just need to get a few extra hours of sleep, while others may need additional help. Many teenagers seek counseling or therapy to help them find ways to help their stress. Although it may seem scary, therapy is nothing to be scared of or ashamed of. Sometimes, just having someone to talk to that we can trust is all we need. Help also doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars. Most schools have school counselors, teachers, and administrators who are trained to help us find the help we need. 

     As much as it should be, mental health is not an easy thing to talk about. The road to recovery is not always sunshine and rainbows and it doesn’t always go perfectly smoothly. We might have some really bad days, and we might have some not so rough ones. The important thing is that we seek guidance and help from the ones we love, and that we are open-minded about what is right for us. Take care of yourself, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. 

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