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Whether you are distance-learning or are going back to your school’s campus for the upcoming semester,  it is important to maintain good mental health. Like others, I have noticed my mental health declining during quarantine. Many of us have or know someone who has contracted the coronavirus, and even if that doesn’t apply to you, being home all day and the constant news coverage surrounding the virus can affect our mental health. I’ve found myself just sitting all day sometimes, not doing anything. While this is ok on occasion, this usually leads me to overthink things. As we head back to school, balancing schoolwork and maintaining our mental health is essential.

There are many ways to balance your mental health and schoolwork. One of the most effective things for myself last semester during distance-learning was working with my friends. I would create a Zoom code and send it to them. My friends and I would collaborate on work from all of our classes. Doing this not only allowed us to get the work finished faster, but it also gave us the chance to socialize with each other, since we can’t get together in person right now. As soon as we finished our work, we would just hang out, talk, or watch funny YouTube videos.  It made me feel much less stressed.

Another thing I found helpful was doing something I love. Now, for you, this could be anything. You could paint, draw, write, watch TV, and more. For me, I found working out helpful in maintaining my mental health. I run or lift weights to forget about my troubles. I turn my music all the way up and just get in the zone. Maybe it’s just me, but there is nothing like the accomplished feeling you get after a good workout. While this has helped me a lot, it is important to remember that distracting yourself is not a replacement for therapy or other forms of mental health help. In fact, I recently started seeing a therapist to help support my mental health. 

Depending on how open you are with your friends, talking to them about how you are feeling could be very helpful. I reach out to my friends for advice when I am feeling upset or depressed, and talking through my feelings helps me realize that I’m not alone in them. They walk me through my feelings and help me realize that I’m not alone in those feelings. They’ve sent me funny Tik Toks or memes to help cheer me up. I believe that having open conversations with your friends about feelings is important to your mental health. Personally, I always feel much better after talking to someone about my feelings. It doesn’t even have to be a friend. Just speak to someone you feel comfortable with. This could be a parent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or sibling.

Lastly, I have noticed that there are an abundance of mental health apps available to download on smartphones. Some of them cost money, but a lot of them are free. They walk you through breathing exercises or provide comforting music to help you relax. It would be ideal for a day where you can’t really set aside much time. Even five minutes of breathing exercises can be very beneficial to your mental health. 

Going back to school will be stressful for most of us. Getting to know your teachers and classes via Zoom or Google Classroom can be overwhelming. The whole distance-learning many of us will do makes going back to school all the more difficult. However, by following some of my tips above, you will hopefully prioritize your mental health during the upcoming school year. It is important to remember, though, that there isn’t a “one size fits all” method for supporting your mental health. The best advice I could give is to try different things and see what works for you. Good luck this school year!