Self-Care Tips for High School Students

Padya Paramita

Self-Care Tips for High School Students 

We all know that high school can be a rough time. It’s always important to make sure that you take time for yourself so that you don’t stress out too much during finals or the college application process. Of course, it helps to start acting on self-care tips for high school students from the very beginning so that you have a smoother experience over the following four years. But finding ideas on how to, and adapting them into your daily life at any stage, whether sophomore fall or senior spring, can help ease any anxiety that you might be feeling when balancing everything that’s on your plate.

Without further ado, take note of our ten self-care tips for high school students that can help you destress as you take on a rigorous load of classes, extracurriculars, and college applications.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule

Number one on our self-care tips for high school students is sleep. It seems obvious, but you should try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Your peers might brag about pulling all-nighters and getting only two hours of sleep to study for a test, but don’t feel pressured to follow their example. Studies show that sleeping more actually leads to better grades! Your brain needs time to relax and regain energy to take on more as you prepare yourself for your workload. You don’t want to start yawning when in conversation with a Harvard alum for your college interview, or fall asleep in the middle of the SAT! Make sure you plan your study schedule around getting plenty of sleep every night and it will make a difference in the long run.

Remember to eat and hydrate

Alongside sleeping, drinking enough water a day (8 glasses at least!), eating balanced meals, and ensuring that you’re receiving the nutrition you need are other important routines to maintain. It might be tempting to have ice cream for every meal but remember the basics: your body needs a certain amount of carbs, protein, vegetables, and vitamins in order to function properly. If you’re not sure of what you need to eat, consult a nutritionist or doctor. Even though you might want to sleep in, you should be eating breakfast every day before school, and allowing yourself enough time to have lunch and dinner, regardless of how many upcoming exams you have. Your brain will get even more stressed if you’re not eating properly!

Take breaks

Next on our list of self-care tips for high school students comes another action point that your peers might overlook. Your study sessions aren’t a race - you get no points for sitting with your books for ten hours straight. If anything, your brain will get burned out and stop intaking new information. You might forget what you learned during your test or the quality of your essays could go down. To avoid this, you need to make sure you schedule time to step away from the books for half an hour - say at every two-hour interval - and relax. You could try meditating or any other activity that helps you regain energy and composure such as knitting or cooking. You’ll come back with a fresher mind if you take the time to ground yourself before hitting the books again.

Spend some time outside every day

Going off of the last point, one of the ways to utilize your time away from homework is to make sure you get plenty of fresh air. Don’t spend all day cooped up inside your room or even your house. For a change of scenery, consider stepping outside, whether it’s to help your parents do the groceries or simply to go for a walk around the block. Having a change of pace and environment can help your brain refocus before you’re ready to hit the books again.


Next on the list of self-care tips for high school students comes a point related to the last one. Alongside spending time outside every day, you should also make sure that you exercise. Working out not only helps you stay physically fit, but can also energize your brain. Whether you want to join the football team or do yoga, squeeze exercise into your schedule at least three days a week for a minimum of half an hour a session. It might feel like a waste of time when you could be studying, but your body and mind will both feel rejuvenated afterwards.

Make time for your friends

While it’s obviously important to study hard, you shouldn’t feel like you have to isolate yourself all the time in order to succeed in your classes. Take some time - especially over the weekend - to hang out with friends. Go to the movies, go out to eat, or just drop by their house. You’re a teenager - you need to socialize once in a while alongside studying for your finals! If you have a big test coming up but you haven’t seen your friends in a while, why not plan to study together and quiz each other? Studying with a group can often be helpful, and your friends can help you with chapters where you’re struggling.

Read for fun

Reading for fun is a very good habit for high school students to practice and it can certainly help you de-stress! Depending on what you enjoy reading, going beyond the required text can help expand your knowledge on various topics. Check out your school or local library to gain access to books without having to buy them. You can make a Goodreads account and create reading lists for yourself as well as set a target number of books you want to read for the year. Plus, you might encounter college supplemental essay prompts and alumnae interview questions which ask you to elaborate on your favorite book – so this is a habit you should definitely develop!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you’re having trouble understanding schoolwork, don’t just sit by yourself and fail your classes. An essential part of self-care tips for high school students is knowing when to ask for help, whether from parents, friends, teachers, or a guidance counselor. If you’re struggling with certain material on the syllabus, reach out to the particular teacher and ask if you can go over the problem areas after class. If you’re not sure which colleges you should apply to, sit down with your high school counselor to discuss the possibilities. You won’t be penalized or judged for asking for help - this is why these resources exist. Your work will only benefit from taking advantage of the support systems available to you.

Keep a journal

High school is a time where you encounter a lot of different people and experiences. Alongside keeping a planner to organize your schoolwork, you should also write in a journal to reflect on anything of interest that you want to process more through writing. The fun thing about a personal journal is that there are no rules - you can use it as a diary and jot down what happens daily, or you can use it for maintaining lists of TV shows to watch, or more creative work such as writing poetry or drawing comics. Journaling regularly also helps you hone your writing skills while maintaining a record of important events. Who knows - the contents of your journal might end up inspiring your personal statement for college!

Set SMART goals

As part of the self-care tips for high school students, remember that while you should push yourself, you need to set goals that are realistic and specific to you. Adapt SMART goals into your daily life. SMART stands for:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable)
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

One example for making SMART goals could be for creating your college list, which is a time-sensitive task relevant to the next steps in your education. If your SAT score is in the 1300s, and your GPA is 3.50, you shouldn’t be planning to just apply to Ivy League schools. Only applying to Harvard and Yale won’t really work out for you in such a situation because your goals also need to be attainable. You need safety and target options. What are schools that make sense and are more realistic for someone with these numbers? Research institutions where the median scores line up with yours, along with setting specific action points on improving your numbers as much as you can.

High school is a time when you might be caught in the middle of studying, working on college applications, and going out to have fun. While you should challenge yourself with difficult courses and go beyond typical extracurriculars, it’s not fun for anyone if you’re falling asleep in the middle of a presentation because you’re pulling all-nighters. Implement our self-care tips for high school students to start practicing healthy habits and allow yourself to take it easy once in a while. You’ve earned it!

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