Practicing Self Care in High School is Essential

Maggie Lager

“I work fifteen hours a week, and I have KAMSC. I used to take piano lessons, but I don’t have time anymore,” continued senior Ben Byrd, “KAMSC and a job is absurd.”
It’s the middle of March and the school year is beginning to take a toll on students all over the school. Balancing a full schedule, a part-time job, homework and pressure from colleges to participate in  extracurricular activities is extremely stressful. In some cases, so stressful that sometimes student forget their number one priority: their own well-being.
“It’s a balancing act, really, with sleep and homework, where you need to get enough sleep but have enough time for homework,” said senior Mitchell Rockwell.
Self-care, as defined by the International Self Care Foundation, is ‘’what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness.”
Self-care is a broad concept encompassing hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental factors, socio-economic factors and self-medication.
Contrary to popular belief, self-care is not selfish. It’s an imperative part of taking responsibility for one’s own well-being and living up to their full potential.
High school students are always being preached to on the importance of getting enough sleep, making healthy choices and managing their time wisely. Though this is good advice, the majority of high school students could tell you that these standards aren’t realistic.
“I  think it is a little unrealistic. It’s hard for kids who are trying to make high school a  meaningful experience,” said freshman Michael Heinds
Everyone practices self-care differently due to a variety of needs, schedules, and time constraints. It’s important to keep in mind that all self-care is valid and important, whether accomplished first thing in the morning or in the middle of the night.
It’s especially important for high school students to maintain their physical health. Having an active and healthy lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym five times a week. For those who are struggling to discover physical activity they enjoy, there are less physically demanding options such as taking a walk or practicing yoga, neither cost any money or require a lot of physical fitness.
For those feeling especially stressed, a good option is to take a bath instead of a shower. Taking a bath is said to improve blood circulation, aid sleep, eliminate headaches, and reduce anxiety.
Feeling sluggish? A change in diet could be the solution. A lot of high schoolers eat fast food multiple times a week because they don’t have a lot of time or money. While convenient, fast food is high in calories and low in nutrients. By making a trip to the grocery store just once a week, it’s possible for anyone to drastically reduce or eliminate fast food from their diets altogether. For those who live with their parents, having a conversation with them about the foods they buy could be beneficial.
Drink a lot of water! Besides being necessary for survival, water is helpful for maintaining a proper balance of bodily fluids, controlling calorie intake, energizing muscles, and keeping skin looking healthy.
Self-care doesn’t only apply to physical well-being, maintaining psychological well being is extremely important as well.
For high schoolers who suffer from mental illness maintaining psychological well being takes on a whole new meaning.
A few general rules to abide by are to alway take any medication at the proper time of day and to take the prescribed dose. Also, make sure to prioritize doctor and therapy appointments.   
For those who don’t suffer mental illness, there are a few tips that apply to almost everyone when it comes to making day-to-day life stress-free and as positive as possible.  
It’s important for students to avoid overscheduling themselves so much that there’s not enough time in the day for them to do things they enjoy. For most, spending at least an hour a day on something enjoyable can be enough to get through even the most stressful day.
“Video games, movie watching, and reading are essential,” said Byrd, “If I didn’t play video games, I’d probably be on drugs or something.”
It’s helpful to get assignments done when they’re due and manage time as wisely as possible. Some teachers will give more than one day to complete an assignment. It’s always smart to take advantage of that by doing a little bit of the work each day.
Sometimes an overwhelming amount of homework is unavoidable. It’s been proven that the human capacity to focus on a single task is approximately twenty minutes. Luckily, this is easy to counteract by taking short breaks. A break can be anything from just sitting and letting the mind wander for a minute to getting up and making a snack. It really comes down to individual preferences and time constraints.   
The benefits of practicing self-care are numerous. According to livescience, “Self-care tends to improve our immunity, increase positive thinking and make us less susceptible to stress, depression, anxiety and other emotional health issues.”
Not only that, but having positive relationships with ourselves can make our  relationships with others much healthier and significantly more positive.
“You have to be good to yourself before you can be good to other people,” said junior Shane Harrelson, “because you’re the first person that you know how to be good to.”
Winter is hard on everyone, it’s the middle of the school year, it’s cold, it gets dark early and occasionally students will go days without seeing the sun. It’s only natural that some have a hard time remaining positive and lose sight of their well-being at this time of year. However, as you battle through the last few months of winter this year, fight mindfully, keeping your physical and psychological health in mind.
You only get one you. Your body and your mind are the most valuable things you will ever have. Make an effort to treat them that way.