School is difficult in some form or fashion for everyone. Sensitive or emotional people often have great difficulty trying to get through life in the educational environment. As a sensitive person who has been in the public schooling system for more than a decade, I’d like to share some tips on how to get through the day well. (And you don’t have to be sensitive to benefit from these tips!)
I. Day-to-day maintenance
These are tips you can practice every day in order to prevent freak-outs and breakdowns.
- Take advantage of opportunities to relax. During lunch, I like going to the library. It’s easy to rest my mind when in the presence of so many delicious books. My school also has a free period, during which I find a hallway to sit down and take a break from working. Technically, I’m supposed to be in a classroom–which is why I choose the most secluded area of the school to avoid confrontation with patrolling administrators. 🙂 If that would stress you out, find an authorized place where you know you don’t have to be working.
- Schedule your breaks for when you need them. Last year, right before my geometry class, I would find a bench to sit on and listen to a calming music playlist. Sometimes I got to class a tiny bit late, but that bit of relaxation was vital to help me through the period. Most of the time, though, I learned to budget my time well.
- Allot yourself some break time during a class. No, this is not an excuse to slack off–you’re still responsible for your work like everybody else. But to maintain sanity, it’s necessary to take a minute to stare off and breathe. I enjoy keeping a “jar of daydreams.” All the thoughts I’ve collected during the day are like treats. Periodically, I reach into the jar and allow myself a little morsel of daydreaming.
- Choose something to look forward to at the end of the day. For me, it’s my afternoon snack and nap. Look at the day not as one large chunk, but as many, smaller chunks. It really helps put things into perspective. Tell yourself, “I’m just going to get through the next ten minutes.” Keep saying that until you’ve made it to the end of the day.
II. Preventing upset
If you feel yourself starting to get tearful or weary, use these tips to help ease yourself back into a pleasant or neutral state before things get out of hand.
- Listen to yourself. What are you feeling–sad, overwhelmed, irritated, tired? How are you feeling physically and emotionally?
- Try to evaluate the situation. Recognize what might be causing your unpleasant state of mind.
- Once you’ve figured out how you’re feeling and what might be influencing you, you can start looking for solutions. If you’re feeling tired, maybe you need to drink some cool water. If you’re sad, maybe you need a quick bathroom break to release your emotions and gather your thoughts.
III. In the middle of it all
Things have gone from bad to worse. Here are some ideas to help you when you’re in the middle of it all.
- Take a bathroom break. I cannot tell you how often I’ve done this or how much it’s helped me. It’s my personal cure-all. Find a bathroom that’s empty–schools have several bathrooms to choose from if one has lots of commotion. When you’ve found the bathroom, just cry. Talk to yourself or to God. Close your eyes and enjoy the relief (the bathrooms I’ve been in are cool, calm, and have good acoustics). Wash your face. Sing. Anything, really. Do what needs to be done.
- Talk to somebody. Excuse yourself to make a phone call. Text someone for support. Or, if you think it would be helpful, see the guidance counselor (I usually don’t recommend this one much because most people aren’t comfortable with it–but if you are, this is an option).
- Be mindful and close your eyes. It’s cliche, but the deep breaths thing is actually very helpful for many different predicaments. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, closing my eyes and focusing on my breathing helps shut out what’s going on around me, at least for a moment.
- Practice discreet crying. Sometimes you’re just gonna cry before you can go anywhere. There are ways to hold back the rivers until you can find a safe place to let them free.
- Go home. No, you can’t just go home whenever you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or upset. This is the last resort for when shit has really, really hit the fan. If you are having a full-on nervous breakdown, school is not the place for you. You’re not going to learn anything anyway. Think of this as if you’re throwing up uncontrollably or having a very high fever. Your mental health is no less important than your physical health.
Emotional, not very emotional, or somewhere in the middle, I wish you the best of luck in maintaining sanity in the stressful education system. Listen to your needs and act accordingly.