Managing Your Mental Wellness As You Go Back To School

The start of a new school year can be exciting, but it can also make people feel anxious, especially if last year was rough or if the student is entering a new school. While some back-to-school tips are widely known (like getting plenty of sleep and eating a healthy breakfast), there are other ways to start a new school year off with a positive mental health outlook.
Here are five ways to help start the school year off right and mitigate back-to-school mental health stress.
1.Start school with a fresh perspective
Remember that people can change a lot over a summer break. Sure, summer is just a couple of months long, but a lot can happen during that time. New experiences, new friends, lost friends, growth spurts, moving into a new neighborhood, and exposure to new experiences can change a person’s perspective. While returning to school may tempt people to act the same as they did the year before, they can try to take on a new attitude. For example:
  • If they were mean to others, they could try to be nice.
  • If they complained, they could start looking for the good in people and situations.
  • If they made poor decisions last year, they could work to use better judgment.
We encourage you to know that now is the time to start new habits and be intentional about behavior.
2. Be true to yourself at school
We encourage you to identify your values and stick to them – such as being kind to others, working hard at school and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Not everyone will like them, and that’s okay.
You don’t have to try to impress friends and classmates, especially if doing so violates your values. When you stick to your values, others will usually respect you even if they don’t show it.
3. Value meaningful friendships
Positive, emotionally supportive friendships are important for mental wellness. The first couple of weeks back to school can feel chaotic socially as everyone tries to find their place. However, use this opportunity to remind yourself that having just a couple of close friends can be more important and rewarding than having tons of surface-level friends.
4. Identify your strengths in and out of school
Starting the new school year with the goal of good grades is admirable and important, so do your best to set yourself up for success. However, working hard at school and learning to recover from setbacks can be just as important in achieving academic goals.
Academic stress is common. If you feel super stressed about school, schedule an occasional 10-to-15-minute window to allow yourself to to experience the anxiousness and then engage in wellness tools to work through those emotions. A great place to find tools for mental wellness can be found in the Welltrack Boost courses on the NMConnect app. Then after you practice a mental wellness activity, refocus on your schoolwork so that anxiety doesn’t control the rest of your week.
Grades are important, but not everything. Identify what else your enjoy doing and pursue activities beyond academics. For example, a student with lower grades who volunteers in the community still shows well-roundedness.
5. Support yourself emotionally
Many of the most successful and emotionally healthy people at school know that their a trusted adult (such as a parent) can be a great ally. Building emotional bridges with your support system opens the door for you to talk about mental health. Find someone that you can talk with daily and share one good thing that happened at school each day.
Know that you are not alone and there are people to talk to when needed. If you need someone to talk with about emotional, mental, behavioral, grief, suicide, or substance use concerns, you can engage in immediate support by calling 855-662-7474 or texting 988
Learn more
The JED Foundation is here to help youth prepare for a new year at school. See more tips and advice for making this school year a healthy and happy one here.

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