When in-person school ended a year ago this month, students were given the overwhelming task of trying to stay positive and productive in the face of the unknown. The mental health of students was in jeopardy and the things that most students relied on for their mental wellbeing—seeing friends, participating in sports, going on vacation, going to Broadway shows, seeing a movie in a theater—were no longer there to comfort them. The Ridgewood Mental Health Awareness Club was founded last year for the purpose of spreading awareness, combating stigma, and acting as an uplifting and inspiring presence in the high school. We want to show our fellow students that they are not alone. So, we thought we would share some of the different ways that we have nurtured our own mental health during the past year.
Holly Soper, Maya Ramasamy, and Haley Evans are all seniors but all participated in very different activities during quarantine to keep their spirits lifted. Holly says that she writes as a way to “keep my mind active and to prevent any brain rot.” I journaled and wrote as well. Every day I would take a few minutes out of my day to write down everything I was feeling. It helped me organize my thoughts and get them out of my head. If writing is not your thing, perhaps you might want to take Maya’s approach. She would take daily walks and play with her dog, her neighbor’s dog, or really any dog. Maya explains that “these have helped me not sink into a monotonous funk.” By participating in these activities even for a short period of time, Maya’s mood is automatically lifted. If you are not the type of person who enjoys exercising, like me, or you are not especially fond of dogs, maybe Haley will inspire you. She decided to try new hobbies to keep herself busy. Some of her favorites are skateboarding and crocheting. “They really helped with my mental health since we’ve been stuck inside,” Haley says.
These are just a few ways some of the members of the Mental Health Awareness Club looked after their mental health during this pandemic. As you can see, there is no one way to do it. Every person is different and every way a person looks after their mental health is different. What matters is that you take care of yourself in whatever ways works for you during this pandemic and beyond. And remember that there are resources available if you need some help.
For Mental Health Resources at RHS visit: https://sites.google.com/ridgewood.k12.nj.us/schoolbasedmentalhealth/home
Graphic: Zoe Kovac
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