Sophomore year of high school still frightens me to this day when I think of it... even for a second. Every moment had become filled with self-doubt, a state of lethargy, and a complete disregard for social activities. I had to will myself to get out of bed every single morning because I hadn't gotten enough sleep that night, and my weekly outfits were just the same few t-shirts and sweatshirts put on in a different order from the previous week. Worst of all, the people around me could tell that my self-esteem had hit an all-time low.
So how do you recover from — arguably — the worst school year of your life? You take the summer after school ends as a time of complete quarantine from the world and build back your self-love, brick-by-brick. And even if it's the middle of the school year, you can rebuild your self-love at any time.
It's so difficult to put away that full-length mirror on the first day, but you'll be thanking yourself very soon.
Get away from social media as much as possible.
I recently deactivated Instagram because of how the posts in my timeline kept mentioning work that was dragging my mood down, and I immediately felt a weight lift off my chest when I deleted the app. Social media is obviously a great escape during the small breaks we have throughout the day, but after spending hours sifting through posts complaining about anything and everything, there's a breaking point we eventually reach.
Put away the bathroom scale. One number won't tell you everything about your body.
I have never been more thankful to learn this tip. Bathroom scales are either extremely motivating or extremely discouraging, but there's actually so little helpful information they provide us with. One of the biggest reasons is that muscle is denser than fat, meaning that one pound of muscle weighs the same as one pound of fat, but your generic scale will not tell the difference between the two. You could be more toned or fit than before, but your scale would give you the illusion that you haven't made any progress. So put it away! It doesn't tell you the full story.
Talk to your friends openly about how you've been feeling.
They're your friends for a reason, and they'll be more than willing to support you. It's difficult to open up at first, but they will do as much as they can to provide assistance whenever you need them.
Do your best to not compare yourself to the people around you.
How others do says nothing about you. So don't worry yourself incessantly over details about others that can't describe your true personality.
Establish at least one night a week where you put away work and focus on yourself.
You can do whatever you want during this time! Watch a movie on Netflix, paint on a canvas, or just take a well-deserved nap! You need some time to recharge after countless hours working, socializing, and just not focusing on yourself. The least you could do is turn around and ask yourself what you want to do in the free time you've been granted.
Look for some intriguing shows to binge-watch as much as you can.
There are the classics, including "Friends" and "The Office", and there are some less popular ones that you can look through on any streaming service you have. But regardless of the show you choose, stick to it, and work all the way to the end of the series.
Start a journal or notebook in which you track how you're doing mentally.
And here's a little bit of inspiration to start those first entries.
Take pictures of the memories you want to remember years from now.
I spent the entirety of junior year changing my perspective on the importance of being with friends, and I took a picture of those important moments throughout the year that I never wanted to forget. In fact, I compiled the 15 best memories into one article that I sent to every person involved. It was my way of thanking them for lifting my spirits up and keeping me on a streak of happiness for nine consecutive months.
Clean out your wardrobe, and start fresh.
You've been there, that time of the year when you circle among the same five shirts but switch up the order in which you wear them each week. Donate your old clothes, and spend a week looking everywhere possible for the clothes that suit you best.
Try to spend time with family and/or friends who know what you're going through.
These are the people who you're closest with, and it could be of help to confide in others. Instead of preserving all your emotions until you can't hold onto everything at once, letting others know updates on your health can keep you grounded. Plus, they'll be completely informed whenever you feel like you need external support.
Set some money aside each month to buy things that make you happy.
We're all a bit materialistic, of course, so spending money on ourselves is one of the simplest and most convenient ways to boost our self-love.
Drive to new locations locally that you think would interest you.
Getting out of the house is actually quite therapeutic if you keep introducing yourself to new settings. For me, going to local parks with friends has always been comforting because the natural scenery is amazing. And it can be helpful to tell yourself not to spend any money when you're out so that you make the most of your trip out of the house.
Keep reminding yourself to take it one day at a time.
I need to keep taking breathers when I get too ahead of myself. And it's because of this. If I have a project due in a month and a trip happening three months from now, my mind will be months in the future compared to where I should be focused. Being aware of the present is always necessary because big steps turn into a chain of doable baby steps. And life becomes easier.
Track your sleep, and make sure you're following a routine.
I have trouble sleeping, and the fact that it's the middle of summer break isn't really helping when it comes to sleeping according to a schedule. But during the school year, that very discipline is one of the biggest factors in maintaining my health.
Headspace has been such a huge help, and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone. And if you have a Fitbit, wear it when you sleep so that you can look at how you progress through your sleep stages.
Redecorate or clean your room to fit your current style.
As soon as the summer break started, I couldn't cope with the sudden lack of assignments. So I spent 16 hours cleaning out my room and completely changing its look. Now, it's transitioned from just a place to work and sleep into the only place I feel comfortable at all times. It's a lot of work to change your room, but it's so important to do to boost your self-esteem.
Stay off your phone whenever you can.
Difficult to do? Absolutely. But Flora is the app you need if you want an "environmentally friendly" reward for staying off your phone. (And you can even plant real trees.)
Get all large assignments done as soon as you can.
The only way to focus on self-love is by getting done any work that would distract you from caring about yourself. Procrastination depletes our motivation until we realize the assignment is due soon, and it's such a tough battle to win if you find yourself turning procrastination into a habit. So just get your work done, and spend the rest of the day having fun!