Top Five Ways High School Seniors Can Prioritize Mental Health

Two students with arms around each other at fountain in courtyard

Spring is here, and with it comes not only flowers and sunshine but also finals, graduation, and many important decisions for high school seniors. It’s an exciting time that can be overwhelming. 

Here are five ways you can take care of your mental health, according to one of Meredith’s counselors.

1. Sleep

You hear it all the time, but getting a good night’s sleep is essential to your mental and physical health. Lack of sleep can make you emotionally and physically exhausted and cause more stress and burnout. 

You may feel like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done, so you put sleep on the back burner. But not prioritizing your basic needs will lead to you getting even less done during the day than if you were to use those few extra hours for sleep.

You should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Let your mind and body rest, and you’ll find yourself ready and energized for the day.

2. Be Present

Often, you may find yourself consumed with thoughts of your future. Maybe you’re worried about your grades, finals, graduation, and college. While these are essential things to keep in mind, you also need to balance being in the present. 

If you’re with your friends, focus entirely on being with them. If you’re working on a project, try and only think about that. 

If you find your mind drifting as you work, get up and take five minutes to do something else. This can be a walk, a mindfulness exercise, or a breathing exercise. Once you take this time to come back to the present, you’ll find yourself more focused when you return to your task.

When you are overwhelmed with anxiety, try the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. This technique takes advantage of your five senses to help you focus on the current moment. After taking some deep breaths, you’ll identify five things you can see at that moment, you’ll acknowledge four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and then one thing you can taste. 

Yes, the future may be very daunting right now, but enjoy the moment. Enjoy your time with your friends and family and do something that makes you happy. 

3. Soak Up the Sun

Going outside and soaking up the sun is proven to help elevate your mental health. Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of serotonin, which is a hormone that regulates your moods. The higher the serotonin, the better your mood is. 

It’s easy. Just grab your favorite book and a blanket, put on some sunscreen, and enjoy a few hours in the sun. 

4. Exercise

Exercise is known to be good for your physical as well as your mental health. People who exercise regularly tend to have better mental health and emotional wellbeing. Exercise can help improve your mood, sleep, and concentration. 

And exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous either. It can simply be going for a 30-minute walk a few times a week. You should try and aim for 150 minutes of exercise each week, and if that seems too much, doing something is better than doing nothing.

Ask a friend if they’ll exercise with you. Having someone else with you can be a great motivator, and they’ll make sure you stick to your schedule.

5. Create Goals

Most importantly, set some reasonable goals for yourself. Creating some healthy habits can help your mental health.

Say you’re not getting anywhere close to eight hours of sleep each night. Try to go to bed 45 minutes earlier than usual, and note how you feel the following day. Are you more energized? Are you feeling better? Give it seven days, and if you find yourself feeling better, stick with it. 

Yes, the future is daunting and stressful to think about. But we’ve all been there. At the end of the day, what matters most is you. So make sure you’re taking care of yourself and enjoying the present so that you’re better prepared for the future. 


And once you’re at Meredith, you can take advantage of a range of support services to boost your mental health. Our counseling center offers one-on-one appointments and drop-in problem-solving hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10 a.m. During this time, you can ask questions, seek support, and begin problem-solving. No appointment is necessary. 

The counseling center also offers a variety of relaxation spaces and tools to help students deal with stress, depression, and anxiety. To learn more, visit the counseling center’s website, or follow the counseling center on Instagram @meredith_ccds.

Take a deep breath and make yourself a priority because you deserve it.

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