Aim Higher: The Achieve Blog


Prioritizing mental health is increasingly important for students, teachers, parents, and families, especially since the pandemic. While we are not mental health professionals, we have seen many of our students go through challenging and stressful situations. We discuss the importance of choosing happiness over success, as well as a few tips for improving one’s mental health.


[0:00:03]  In today’s video, we’re going to talk about something that is really important and it’s about prioritizing your mental health. Now, certainly during the pandemic, mental health issues have become…I guess they come more to the forefront, but they’ve always been really important for students and teachers and parents and families. But we’re going to focus on mental health and prioritizing mental health for students.

[0:00:26]  Now, I’m not a mental health professional, but I do see my students go through really challenging, stressful situations, both personally, socially, and academically all the time. And so I have a few things I want to share with you. But first I’m going to start with just a personal story about the advice that I gave to my son just a few months ago, and that was that if you ever have a choice between success and happiness that I hope you choose happiness.

[0:00:55]  Now, that’s not to say that success and happiness are mutually exclusive. And in fact, a lot of times succeeding at something, having a level of success at something you love or something you worked hard at can help lead to happiness, and that’s great. But if you have to choose, if the success is at the expense of your happiness, choose the happiness. Much more important. Now, I want to talk about a few things that you can do to really help with your own personal mental health.

[0:01:21]   So the first thing is eating healthy foods. Certainly eating healthy foods and getting a good balance of nutrients is really good for your brain activity, really good for your mood as well. So eating healthy is the first part of taking care of your body, but you also need to get plenty of sleep. Look, right now, eight to 10 hours is what’s recommended for teenagers. And there are very few teenagers out there who are getting eight to 10 hours of sleep. So really work on trying to schedule your sleep times and make sure you shut off your screen 30 minutes before you go to bed. [Now, I might do an entire video just on sleep and trying to get better sleep because it’s so important.]

[0:01:58]  But for now, we’ll move on to the third thing, which is getting some exercise, moving your body. Look, you don’t have to do some crazy grueling workout every day, but get out there, go for a jog or a walk, do some yoga, play with your dog in the yard. Do something for 20-30 minutes every day if you possibly can. Just getting your body moving is really, really great for your brain health, your mental health, your attitude, and just your overall physical well being.

[0:02:30]  Next, and I cannot stress this one enough, if you feel like you might benefit from some help, if you feel like you need help, reach out and get some help. You can reach out to anyone that you trust. It could be, certainly, a parent. It could be a teacher at school or a school counselor or your advisor. You could reach out to friends that you really trust. Just let these people know, the people that you care about, the people you trust, let them know that you’re struggling and you might need some extra help.

[0:03:05]  There’s certainly no shame in getting help for mental health issues, for depression, for anxiety, anything that’s affecting you. It’s like, look, if you break your arm or are you going to say, no, I’m not going to go see the doctor, that would be silly. And that’s really the level that we’re talking about here. So please, if you need the help, find a way to get the help. Reach out to some people you trust about getting help, okay?.

[0:03:30]  The next thing I want to say is that I want you guys to all understand that saying “no” is a perfectly acceptable answer to a request. And this can be a request that is some sort of social pressure that you don’t want to succumb to. It could be just saying “no” to over-scheduling yourself socially or academically. Saying “no” can actually be really empowering because you’re not succumbing to all this pressure and social pressure. I know it’s super hard in high school and in middle school to deal with that social pressure. But just being able to say “no”and be confident, saying no is really important.

[0:04:06]  The next thing is, I really think you guys all need to find something fun in your lives to do. It could be anything, right? You could just hang out with friends. You could play with your cat. You could start a Stranger Things club at your school. You could do anything that would bring a little bit of joy into your life. And you can do it for long periods of time, short periods of time. This is not time wasted.

[0:04:31]  This is valuable time to help build your mental health and keep you balanced. And in light of that, I would say spending time with the people you love, your family, your friends, building those social connections and that social network is really, really valuable for just making everybody feel good about themselves. So please don’t skimp on the social connections. That’s a really important point. And finally, I would say this is a hard one.

[0:05:06]  And finally, I would say this is a hard one. Just remember that you are the only person who gets to define who you are, right? Grades don’t define who you are. The comments people make about you don’t define who you are. Only you can define who you are. I find that this becomes an easier concept to live up to in college, partially because in high school, we get put into these little boxes, right? People say, oh, there’s Joe, and Joe is this kind of a person and he’s this kind of a student, and he’s this kind of an athlete, and you’ll find that those boxes are meaningless.

[0:05:41]  So don’t let other people put you in that little box and define you. Only you can define who you are and be proud of that. Be proud of who you are as a person. All right, thank you very much. I hope that helps. There are so many resources for helping you with mental health, at school, like I said, parents, even online. Just do some searches if you don’t feel like you have somebody to trust. And let’s all stay healthy out there.

[0:06:08]  Catch you next time. Thank you for watching, and for more information you can go to our website for more videos in our blog or subscribe to our YouTube or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget, Aim Higher.

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