Wellness by Wu: Ways to prioritize mental health

In the midst of AP Exams, finals and the regular stressors of life, it becomes easy to overlook the importance of one’s mental health. With May being National Mental Health Awareness month, I wanted to highlight key routines you can use to ground yourself during stressful times to ensure your mental wellbeing is always at its best.

Exercise. After a year in lockdown, you’ve probably heard this suggestion a million times already–but that’s because it is incredibly beneficial to one’s state of mind. Exercising is one of the best ways to quickly boost endorphins as it acts as a natural antidepressant. In fact, according to HelpGuide.org, exercise is the best fighter for depression because it boosts neural growth, reduces inflammation in the brain and activates new activity patterns that promote feelings of calmness. 

It is suggested on the HelpGuide site that you dedicate about 30 minutes to moderate exercise about five times a week in order to begin feeling the transformative benefits.

Another great way to look after yourself is to nourish your body with healthy and nutrient rich foods such as home-cooked whole food meals, such as whole wheat pasta or green smoothies. While this means eating healthfully and holistically, healthy eating also includes listening to your body’s cravings and simply just eating things that make you feel good from time to time. 

While you should try to make better nutritional decisions, don’t entrap yourself into a restrictive diet that leaves you and your body malnourished and weak. Eating doesn’t have to have rules attached to it, and the best way to supplement your mental health is to have a balanced diet that makes you feel good.

There’s nothing better than being able to see your friends or loved ones face to face, but since that isn’t always possible, it’s still important that you use the resources and technology available to keep your lines of communication going. Mentalhealth.org suggests that you try to reach out to your friends or someone you trust at least once a week–send them a message, drop a note, or give them a call and start a discussion. This is often called talking therapy, where just simply having a conversation can drastically improve one’s state of mind. 

The final tip I have for maintaining your mental health is to prioritize yourself. While you may have other commitments and responsibilities, your health is a non-negotiable dedication that should trump everything else. Only then can you truly have a healthy mindset and be able to live life well.

High school can seem challenging, stressful and just down right scary at times, so it’s important to take these rituals to heart so you can enjoy these last few years of adolescence you have.