Taking Care During Stressful Times

January 09, 2024

Kemi Ojikutu is a high school student from Pennsylvania. She’s a huge extrovert who loves making new friends, helping others, and being a positive force in her community. She’s a member of the Youth Volunteer Corps, and Stand Together Against Racism (STAR) where she serves her community and works to raise awareness and education about important topics. It was through them that she learned about the work the Born This Way Foundation does, and was able and honored to join their advisory board and be part of the change. When she’s not working on a passion project, or volunteering at an event, you can probably find her watching a Marvel movie, reading a book, or hanging out with friends.

This story took place in United States

Pledge to Take Action

The start of a new year can be a stressful time. It can easily feel like everything is moving too fast, especially for us students. We have school and extracurriculars like clubs and sports take up a lot of time. For me at least, the transition between one year to the next usually means constantly working at 100%, then crashing into winter break to rest and recharge. However, that isn’t healthy, so recently I’ve learned some lessons and ways for myself to healthily and happily manage my time, stress, and self throughout the new year. They’ve helped me a lot this past year, so I thought I’d share them!

1. Connect with people.

Even though we see others every day, it can be easy to never actually get to know them. As a student, I see the same groups of people every day in my classes, however, that time is spent learning, so getting to know them requires making an effort outside of class. But when that extra time is spent doing other things, it can be easy to just drift through your schedule surrounded by people, alone. However, when you make or find time (maybe even class time sometimes) to get to know people, it is a completely different experience. It fascinates me how far a little bit of effort and kindness can go when making friends. All of a sudden, instead of going to class or somewhere else just because you go places excited to see and talk to people as well. Every day brings new conversations and experiences with friends you know. It may seem small, but friendship, especially in places you spend so much time in, makes them that much more special and enjoyable.

2. Don’t be afraid to say no.

It took me a long time to truly understand this, but you don’t need to do everything, everywhere, all at once. Opportunity will arise again, and one door closing won’t make the whole house fall. Being able to manage and juggle a bunch of things is oftentimes admired and prioritized in society, but being balanced and not overworked is what’s healthy. Taking on too much often leads to stress, anxiety, and burnout. Making sure that you have time to relax, do other things, and ensuring you aren’t stressed out all the time is so important to your mental health and well-being.

3. (And what I consider to be the most important) Take time for yourself.

I know this is cliche, and we hear it everywhere, but doing things that you enjoy – just to do them, and not to “be productive” or “Get some work done” – is so important to your well-being. I used to think that spending time doing things like watching a movie or Facetiming with my friends when I had work to do was poor time-management. But recently, I’ve seen firsthand how impactful and helpful taking breaks can be. Doing things just because they make you happy, during these stressful times, can take some of the stress away. And for those who need to hear it: Doing “nothing” sometimes and taking care of yourself is just as productive as crossing off everything on your list.

Pledge to Take Action