After more than a year, schools are finally getting back to normal. However, events outside aren’t, and their effects can carry over to mental health in schools. In fact, even before schools reopened, 41% of New York educators anticipated that such emotional and behavioral challenges would affect students’ mindsets while learning.
Currently, teachers and students all over New York are calling for the rollout of more mental health programs in schools. Our HPA/LiveWell team in Albany has even expanded our mental health services across New York through online therapy to bring help to more students.
However, you may want to take further steps to combat mental health issues and maximize your time at school. Here are 5 simple habits that can help you protect your mental health in schools.
Get enough rest
Getting your full 8 hours is crucial because sleep deprivation can cause or worsen conditions like depression and anxiety. Fortunately, this is easily remedied. In his book Sleep Smarter, wellness coach Shawn Stevenson recommends sticking to a regular sleep schedule and keeping gadgets out of the bedroom, as blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle. In the long run, you’ll be rewarded with improved mental and emotional resilience.
Maintain a balanced diet
Making conscious decisions about what foods and nutrients you consume can significantly affect your mental health. In an article titled Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food, Harvard Health explains that the brain chemical serotonin stabilizes your emotions. It’s primarily produced in the gastrointestinal tract, and eating foods rich in tryptophan and protein can help that production along.
That said, eat more salmon, nuts and whole grains, soy, white meat like turkey and chicken, dairy products, and fruits like pineapple. On the other hand, processed foods tend to suppress serotonin, so consume them in moderation.
If you’re wondering, “what do schools do for mental health?” one answer is actually PE class. Researchers from Ulm University confirm that though exercise works your body, it can protect your mental health in schools by relieving symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Even simply walking between classes or to and from school can help significantly.
By nature, we’re social beings: we feel happy when we’re with others and dislike being alone. That’s why sharing your thoughts and feelings with your family and friends can improve your happiness and mental health. So if you feel like you’re tackling your emotions all by yourself, know that you don’t have to. And, as we previously discussed in How to Talk to Someone About Their Mental Health you can even pay it forward by helping your loved ones talk about their struggles too.
Be kind to yourself
You’re living through an unprecedented global pandemic, so it’s natural to feel distressed or even a little anxious. In her book ‘13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do’, psychotherapist Amy Morin writes that mentally strong people don’t focus on things they can’t control. All you’re doing is reacting, so don’t stress too much about what you should do given the circumstances. However, if you feel overwhelmed, you don’t need to completely guard your mental health in schools during COVID by yourself.
With our new online therapy capabilities, HPA/LiveWell can now offer mental health services to anyone within not only the Capital Region, the Hudson Valley region – Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck, Newburgh, White Plains, Kingston, and surrounding New York cities, but we can offer mental health services and eating disorder treatment to anyone throughout New York state.
Since it’s easier than ever to access these services, don’t hesitate to ask for professional advice on how to deal with mental health in schools during COVID. Just call HPA/Livewell in Albany, NY at 518-218-1188.
Article contributed by Janey Riggins