7 Ways to Ground Yourself in the Whirlwind of a School Year

November 14, 2023
Danielle Kerstein

Englewood, Colorado, United States

Class of 2025

Read more from this author →

In a time in our lives we are supposed to enjoy, it can feel like quite the opposite. Parents and adults sugarcoat high school. They say, “It’s the best four years of your life!” For many teens like me, high school is closer to the worst four years of life. Don’t get me wrong: I think high school is enjoyable at times. Going to school football games, dances, prom, and social events makes high school fun. But everything else feels heavy. Teenagers are expected to wake up early, go to school, take 6+ classes, partake in extracurriculars, study for their tests, do their homework, make time for friends and family, and do it all again the next day. In this overwhelming cycle, we forget about the one person we truly should be making time for: Ourselves. It can be really hard to keep yourself grounded and find healthy outlets to make time for yourself. If my therapist's mom taught me one thing, it’s these 7 stress-reducing outlets:

  1.  Take a walk. Sometimes, all we need to do is go outside and get fresh air. Reflect. Listen to music. Do something to mentally distract yourself and have some “you” time. Personally, I really enjoy taking a walk as a study break. I go with my dogs and/or my mom or just by myself. Sometimes, having company on a walk can provide you with someone to talk to or just be a quiet presence.  On days when I feel like I do not have enough time to completely drop everything on my to-do list,  I listen to my assigned books for school while I walk.
  2. Take a bath or shower. School can feel like a time when you don’t have any control. Something that gives me a sense of control is showering. Even taking a 5-minute shower leaves you feeling clean and refreshed. Moreover, ending long homework nights with a shower is a really beneficial way to wind down before bed and let your stress from the day run down the drain. Another thing I love to do is take a bath. I try to take a bath every night. I love baths, and all of the fun Epsom salts and lavender smells that come with the experience. Sometimes, I do schoolwork in the bath. Yes, I know it might sound strange, but just hear me out! If I have a test I am studying for, I set my computer on the ledge next to me and look at my flashcards. Sometimes, I read my book for class. Other times, I do an online assignment for one of my classes. Whatever it is, I can still feel productive while relaxing. Having a relaxing environment, like the bath, to do homework can reduce your stress as you work through it
  3. Read. A lot of people may have just rolled their eyes at this one. You might be thinking, “Why would I read a different book when I already have to read boring ones for school?” My answer to you is simple - finding a good book to pick up before bed allows your brain to mindlessly wander into the world of whatever you are reading. There are millions of great books out there waiting to be read. I could make a whole separate article on the amazing books that everyone should read. Taking at least 10 minutes a night to distract yourself from the stress factors of your life is a good habit to pick up. I want to ask you all to try something: put your phone away 10 minutes before you go to bed. Pick up your book and read. Now, this might be the hardest part for you- when you are ready to go to bed, do not look at your phone again. Just set your book down and go to sleep. Allowing your brain to wind down by reading and not waking it back up with your phone enables you to think less and fall asleep faster. 
  1. Go to therapy. No, really - go to therapy. Therapy has such an unnecessarily bad reputation. Honestly, I think people have a stereotypical idea of what therapy is. A lot of people feel intimidated to open up to a stranger. In my experience, therapy has absolutely changed my life for the better. In such a busy school year, it can be so easy to bottle up your feelings. While that may be a temporary solution, those emotions will just be felt with 1000x more intensity later on. Besides, going to therapy provides you the space to let go of all of the negative emotions you may have. There is no “right” way to go about a therapy session. Some people just need to vent for an hour. Others need advice on specific aspects of their lives. Whatever it is, therapy is there to be your outlet. To ground you. To let your stress factors not feel as big and overwhelming. Plus… you get to talk about yourself for an hour. They are literally paid to listen to you. I mean, who wouldn’t like that?
  1. Meditate. Meditation comes in all sorts of forms. Some people do meditation in the traditional, more stereotypical way. Others go outside and sit and listen to nature for a couple of minutes. Personally, I listen to a meditation guide to fall asleep every night. I use an app called “Insight Timer,” but there are so many out there. Some nights, I listen to a guided meditation from varying lengths. On other nights, I just listen to nature sounds or relaxing music. Meditating, especially to fall asleep, is yet another great way to ground yourself and turn your busy brain off.
  1. Exercise. Did you know that exercising releases dopamine (the happiness hormone)? If that does not convince you to try exercising when you are overwhelmed, I don’t know what will. Just like almost every tip I have shared so far, exercising has so many different variations. Some people find comfort in a public gym. Others prefer an at-home gym. Some people like going for runs outside. Whatever form of exercise, it is tremendously beneficial to your mental health. Exercising gives you another way to feel in control when the rest of your life feels so out of control. You can make your workout exactly how you want it to be. And you get a boost of happiness to conquer the rest of your busy day!  
  1. Go for a drive. I saved this one for last because I know not all people have this freedom. If you have the ability, going for a drive is such a great way to clear your mind. Roll down your windows, turn your music up (to an acceptable level), and pour out your feelings into whatever songs you want. For me, both my parents work mostly from home, so I am rarely alone. A time I can be completely alone is driving in my car, Mumford. Driving gives you a time and place to reflect on your day and create some positive energy. 

I hope you have found inspiration in at least one of these ideas. And just a few words of wisdom before I sign off: you are crushing it, and I am so proud of you. School can be so stressful, and you are getting through this as best as you can. Your best is enough, and I hope you know that. Keep crushing it and keep working to ground yourself through this busy time.

Danielle is a BBG in N'shama Hyatt BBG #165 from Rocky Mountain Region and loves pickles!

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

Explore More Stories

Get The Shofar blasted to your inbox