By Katie C, Teen Member of the Co Lab’s Mental Health Hub from Taiwan

Whether it is from schoolwork, tests, trying to fit in, or balancing and establishing a balanced schedule, students are often bombarded with tasks they need to accomplish. Throughout high school, I have always felt like I was running every day without taking proper breaks. Instead of making me more productive, not taking breaks made me more stressed and less focused. I have decided to compile a few tips that I have used that have truly helped me become more organized and less stressed. Although it does take quite some time to develop the habit to follow such tips, it did help me in the long term in ensuring that I am taking care of my mental health. 

  1. Refresh Your Mind with Something Fun: The first tip that I discovered to be useful was to not overthink through immersion in other activities — even activities that you have never tried before. Although it is easy to tell yourself to stop overthinking, it is incredibly difficult to stop overthinking. This has often been the barrier that destroys my confidence and ability to perform well for tasks. Usually, I suffer from a lack of sleep as a result of overthinking about past events or possible results and this often caused me to lose productivity or the inability to relax due to overwhelming thoughts. Therefore, something that I felt was extremely helpful was doing an activity, whether it is drawing or playing an instrument, that would take my mind off of schoolwork for a while. Doing other activities often serve as actual breaks instead of scrolling through social media, as I distract my mind from everything and instead focus on the tasks at hand presented by the activity. I often feel that this way of making myself busier with other activities has helped me feel refreshed once I return to schoolwork.
  2. Plan for Success: The second tip is to schedule and set steps toward a goal. Oftentimes, students feel anxious due to upcoming projects or exams and where to start. Making sure that you have a schedule that helps you prepare for upcoming events can play a role in reducing stress by providing a sense of relief knowing that what is accomplished each day is contributing to helping you achieve your goal. According to Dr. Alison L. Rose, a clinical psychology Ph.D. student, procrastination could ultimately lead to chronic stress as well as psychological stress that is detrimental to our mental health thus instead of putting off a task, taking small steps each day to approach a goal is a good way to provide reduce stress and anxiety before deadlines and events.  
  3. Set Your Sights on the Future: The third tip is to change your mindset by thinking of the future and not the past. This is particularly difficult to change and I am currently still struggling with changing my mindset. According to Dr. Alessia Rosi, a Ph.D. from the Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences of the University of Pavia, Italy, failure is often what deteriorates mental health and self-confidence. As a student, I have failed multiple times and it often made me reevaluate my self-worth and confidence. However, I realized that paying more attention to my mindset and how I perceive challenges and react to failures is essential in making me feel less stressed and happier as a student. In a science paper by Dr. Betty Ng, an Education Research Scientist, some ways to change your mindset is through recognizing negativity and instead, thinking of a goal you have set for yourself to motivate you to learn from failures and move forward.

Here are some tips to improve student mental health; if you would like to contribute to the movement to raise awareness and fight mental health stigma, we highly encourage you to join the Mental Health Hub that is led by teens by emailing us at [email protected] and checking us out here.