Mental Health Back To School Survival Guide

Mental health back to school guide to help you manage depression and anxiety symptoms in school #depression #anxiety #mentalhealth

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Mental Health Back to School Survival Guide

Going back to school can be stressful but it can be even more difficult if you’re managing depression and anxiety. I managed clinical depression while finishing high school and while getting my undergrad and Masters degree. I struggled to manage my mental health but I was able to do it and I learned a lot from it. I wanted to write this mental health back to school guide to help you get prepared and set up to be successful in school.

Tell Positive Stories

I just wrote a whole post about telling positive stories the other day but this is a trick I’ve been using in all areas of my life. Do you have any disempowering stories you tell yourself about school? Some of mine used to be:

I’m not smart enough to go to grad school
School is hard for me and I’m not naturally smart
I’m not a good writer
I’m a poor test taker

None of these stories are inherently true and believing them made going to school feel really hard. If you’re telling yourself disempowering stories about school try to ask yourself what the most badass version of yourself would believe and switch them out. Here’s how I would rewrite the stories above.

I’m not smart enough to go to grad school
I’m just as smart as everyone else at my school

School is hard for me and I’m not naturally smart
The right knowledge and information comes to me at the perfect time

I’m not a good writer
I’ve written lots of powerful and useful things in my life

I’m a poor test taker
I get better and better at taking tests the more I take them

Make a Plan

Identify what the most difficult parts of school will be and make a plan for how you can deal with them. If you struggle with test anxiety make a plan for how you can cope with anxiety when you have to take tests. Will being extra prepared help you? Could you schedule extra study sessions for yourself? Does exercise help alleviate your anxiety? Could you get some extra workouts in? Is there a meditation or something calming you can listen to before the test? Having a good idea about what challenges you will have with your mental health during school will help you make a good plan. It’s also a good idea to identify what things you can do for self-care on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to keep your functioning high. It’s so easy to stop doing the things that make us feel good and improve our mental health when we get busy. Make a self-care plan and a commitment to yourself that you are going to prioritize your mental health during the school year.

Identify Resources At Your School

I was really fortunate all through school to have access to free therapists. Find out what resources your school has available for students to help manage their mental health and start taking advantage of them ASAP. I waited to go to a therapist until I had a spectacular breakdown while I was in school. My biggest tip would be to go to a therapist BEFORE you have a breakdown. You don’t need to wait until things are really bad to take advantage of the mental health resources at your school. While in college I received FREE weekly therapy sessions which is now a service I pay hundreds of dollars for every month. I also took advantage of a weekly support group and free gym membership offered by my school.

Identify Resources Outside Your School

If your school doesn’t have good services for mental health there are still tons of resources you can use for your mental health. On my site I have tons of journal prompts you can use, mental health-related podcasts you can check out and a mental health planner you can use to help manage your mental health. I also have a support group on Facebook with over 2,000 badass women that you can ask for advice and share your mental health journey with. Besides resources online you can also identify who your support system is going to be and make sure to spend time nurturing those friendships and relationships. You don’t want to be the person who only talks to their friends and family when they are in a crisis. Spend time nurturing your relationships and put energy into supporting other people too. I’m also a HUGE fan of reading self-help books, you can find all my current favorites here. If your school doesn’t offer therapy considering using BetterHelp to get therapy online while you’re in school (you can read my full review of the service here).

Figure Out Your Priorities

It can be tough to balance work, school, family, dating and friends while in school. Get clear on what you want from your time during school and connect to the reasons why you want to go to school. What advantages will an education offer you? Why do you want to finish school? Getting clear on what your longterm vision is for your goal can help you prioritize your time. Make sure the way you are spending your time reflect what you want to get out of life, the future you want to create and your priorities in life.

Get Healthy AF

When I was in school I would regularly skip meals and sleep. Looking back at those times I’m lucky I even graduated. By the time I finished my levels of functioning were at an all-time low. Make a commitment to yourself to study in a healthy way that doesn’t involve skipping sleep and trading meals for coffee. Our culture tends to glorify being too busy to take care of yourself but this can take an extreme toll on your mental and physical health. Make a plan to eat healthy food and get some exercise. Keeping your physical body healthy can have a huge positive impact on your mental health. Schedule a day each week to prep healthy meals for the week so you have healthy food made ahead of time.

Trying to go to school while managing mental illness can be really tough. Be extra kind to yourself during this time and don’t beat yourself up. When I was in school I would always compare myself to other students but the truth is most of them probably weren’t managing clinical depression on top of everything else. You’re on your own journey so just don’t compare yourself and take extra good care of yourself while you’re in school. If you’re looking for more mental health resources check out my other posts on depression and anxiety. You can also check out my post on How to Slay School When You’re Depressed for more tips on managing depression while in school.


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Mental Health Back to School Survival Guide Tips

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