Radiant Rachel: How to take care of your mental health

design: Lilly Wood

During the wintertime, I notice that I tend to be more depressed and have a serious lack of motivation. Part of the reason is probably the fact that it gets dark extremely early. Over the summer, it used to get dark around 10 p.m., but during the winter months the sun starts setting around 5 p.m.. By the time I get home from practice or whatever activities I have after school, I have no desire to do any homework. I just relax and go to bed.

Another reason is that my winter season is busy. I play a winter sport, work, and still try to make time for clubs after school. Although there is Thanksgiving break and winter break, which is nice, teachers have to crunch due dates and tests, and it can be extremely overwhelming. If I fall behind, it can be really difficult to catch up on old and new material while also preparing for semester exams.

Luckily, there are ways to manage these symptoms and try to stay motivated. I included a list of some of my favorite ways to practice self-care when things get stressful.

  1. Have a sleeping schedule

I notice that my sleeping schedule and attendance in the winter time gets significantly worse than it does in the spring and summer. The best way to fix a sleeping schedule is to set a goal bedtime, just like as a kid. Like a lot of people, I like to scroll though my phone before I go to bed and can be on TikTok for a concerningly long time without realizing. By simply deciding a specific time to turn off all electronics at a certain time every day and going to bed, I notice my mood improves, the process of getting up for school isn’t as grueling, and my attendance isn’t nearly as terrible.

  1. Doing something you enjoy

Especially during the months of November and December, I get really caught up in my schoolwork to the point that I get burnt out. It’s important for me to remind myself to create a balance between work and play. Having the mindset of working all the time has led me to nothing other than lots of tears and bad performance during school. I notice I do a lot worse on a test that I stay all night studying for rather than spreading out my studying throughout the day. For example, say I get one assignment done, I’ll reward myself by doing something fun before moving on. This could be watching an episode of my favorite TV show, going to the gym, or painting my nails.

  1. Cleaning

I know how annoying it is to do chores around the house or clean your room. However, if my room looks like a tornado ran through it, not matter how much I don’t want to, I know I will feel much better being able to see the floor and not dirty clothes from weeks ago. For me, the status of my room is the reflection of how I’m feeling mentally, I try to dedicate my Sundays to cleaning so I can have a fresh start Monday.

  1. Staying organized

As a student who’s very busy, it’s very important for me to stay as organized as possible. I have a whiteboard calendar in my room which I mark the days I work, days I have practice, days I have important events, and days I have tests/projects. I do this so I can visually see what days I have free and plan accordingly. I also have a planner where I write in my homework every day which also makes it very easy to see what I need to do over the weekend. To be able to physically cross off an assignment I completed is very satisfying.