Navigating High School:  Advice for High School Students and Their Parents in Ten Sentences. 


1) Breathe.

Pay close attention to your breathing. Take deep breaths when you wake up and before you start any new activity. Think about filling your lungs with air. This is especially important when you feel stressed. 

2) Stay Calm.

When you are presented with news that raises your anxiety level, force yourself to stay calm and think through your options. Social drama will be reduced if you avoid knee-jerk responses. School stress will be reduced if you stay calm and plan your approach to assignments.
 
3) Get Enough Sleep.

High school students should be getting 9 hours of sleep each night. Exhausted people don’t do as well as rested people. Bad decisions get made by tired people. Sleep cannot be stored, so sleeping in on the weekends won’t make up for lack of sleep during the week. Aim to get to sleep by 10:00 if you have to be up for school between 6:00 and 7:00. 

4) Schedule some down time.

Put time in your schedule to relax and gather your thoughts. If you are the type of person who tends to let time get away from you,  set aside specific time to play and then get back to work. If you tend to over schedule yourself and feel guilty if you aren’t working, remember that your mind needs time to relax and process information in order to be efficient. 

5) Participate in clubs and activities.

High school is the time to learn what interests you outside of school. Join some clubs. Explore your passions and make some new friends. Don’t join clubs for the sole purpose of building a college resume. Join a club because the mission of the club interests you. 

6) Tell somebody if you feel stressed.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, tell someone you trust. Let your parents or teachers or counselors know if you are feeling panicky. If you show consistent effort, most teachers will happily work with you to reduce your stress. Sometimes just letting someone else know that you are worried helps alleviate the worry.

7) Do something productive with your summers.

Idle summers are a contributing factor to depression among teenagers. Sure, at the end of the school year you may feel like you could sleep for a month, but after you’ve had a few days to catch up and relax, find something to do.  Get a job or volunteer in your community. Set some exercise goals or read some books that aren’t required.  Find a summer workshop or camp focused on a topic that interests you.  Plan specific activities with your friends and family.  People who have scheduled activities to look forward to tend to be less depressed than those who don’t. 

8) Don’t get caught up in competitiveness with grades.

During high school you will learn your own academic strengths and weaknesses. It isn’t helpful for you to be constantly comparing yourself to other people. Make a pledge to keep your grades to yourself and it will reduce your stress. 

9) Accept your flaws and the flaws of other people.

During high school you will learn that your parents make mistakes and so do your teachers and your friends. Rather than focusing on other people’s errors, remember that you are also not perfect. Be humble and accept that you make mistakes too and be forgiving of other people. 

10) Treat other people better than you expect to be treated.

Hurt people hurt people. When others treat us badly, it is easy to react with anger or vengeance, but if you can take a deep breath, stay calm and consider the possibility that the person who hurt you may have been hurt themselves, it is easier to be kind in return. 

As always, feel free to visit my website at www.youngadulttherapy.com or to contact me at gail@youngadulttherapy.com. 
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