This Article is Better Than Your Therapist

This Article is Better Than Your Therapist

Joy Lee, Staff Writer

“I need a therapist” was the first thing that I said to my mom after school. I was struggling immensely at keeping my sanity. I was hoping that therapy could somehow finish my assignments for me. After a good two years of Zoom schooling in my bed, half-awake, readjusting to real school was very challenging. Being thrown into a humongous school as a freshman was definitely not the best. I was certainly not used to all of the assignments and tests. So, before even trying to overcome my stress, I did what I did best. I neglected my responsibilities by lying horizontal in my dumpster of a room, binging throwback episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians 24/7. This wonderful coping mechanism came to a halt when my mom came into my room and yelled at me to get my life together. She wasn’t wrong, but I had no will-power at all to pick myself up. I was not confident in myself, and I was constantly scared of what my parents or friends thought of me. So I continued to cope the way I wanted to. I would disregard my parents’ disappointed sighs every time they saw me come downstairs with my arms full of cups that I would refuse to put in the sink that week. The high standards I held for myself only made me feel more unconfident whenever I failed to reach an impossible goal. I didn’t know who to go to or how to deal with my stress. I was constantly overthinking and stressing.

I guess it didn’t hit me that I was truly slacking off until I checked my grades. At first, I did what every (or most) teenagers do when they get a horrible grade: “Mom, I’m telling you, the teacher literally doesn’t teach…” That excuse certainly didn’t work. Soon after, my dad made me sign a literal contract saying, “I, Joy Lee, am going to get my phone number canceled if I don’t get straight A’s until the end of the year.” And let me tell you what, after that, boy was I the smartest in my family.

The reason why I wanted to talk about stress is because I wanted to emphasize that it is completely normal to feel like this. The following week after I signed my contract, I started to try to get my life together, with a little help from my assertive dad and some motivational TED Talks. I started to learn the importance of taking care of my mental health by handling my stress in other ways instead of going to my bed. School is so stressful and what parents don’t understand sometimes is that most of us are truly trying our best. However, the world won’t always think that your best is enough, and when we get that reality check, we’re put through a lot of anxiety and self-doubt. But when stress slaps you across the face it’s important to slap it right back. Let’s say you had a terrible day, and that same night you need to study for several subjects; it’s important to take a step back and take care of yourself mentally and physically rather than burning yourself out. After all, being in a bad mental state and trying to cram everything in your head is going to create nothing but more stress. So, here are five things to keep in mind the next time you have a stressful day:


Do what you love 

Everyone is different when it comes to dealing with stress. There might be people—like me at the beginning of the year—who completely give up on their priorities, or there might be people who get up and get things done. Either one is okay, as long as you don’t lose sight of what’s important. My mom always told me that stress is good because it means that you care about something; however, when that stress becomes extreme, it can ruin your mental being. So make sure you schedule breaks for yourself after school to do the things you love. Whether it’s listening to music or playing with your musty dog, do anything that boosts your serotonin. Because, to be honest, I believe that we all deserve a break at some point.


Do your best no matter what state you’re in 

Doing your best is the first step to mastering anything. Remember, everything you do along your journey contributes to where you’re going. Don’t set insane standards for yourself. High standards won’t always be beneficial to bettering yourself. Sometimes you may be setting a level of perfection that nobody can realistically reach. If you were the best version of yourself—not the one you beat yourself up for not being, not some idealized version of yourself who does everything perfectly—how would you spend your days? Make a list. It’s the effort that counts.


Cover your ears

It’s okay to feel stressed after a comment that is made towards us. After all, we are all humans living under a magnifying glass. Throughout our lives, we’ve definitely encountered that one big Debbie Downer. Debbie Downers love sucking the energy from other people because they think it’s going to benefit them. It doesn’t matter where you are, there is always going to be that person. When you encounter these people, whether they’re your “friends” or someone you’ve absolutely never heard of in your life, cover your ears. It’s hard taking criticism, especially when somebody doesn’t know a thing about you, but always remember the things you are in control of. You can’t control the thoughts and insults of others, but you can control how you take that insult. Let’s say, hypothetically, that you came to school feeling confident in your outfit, and then you hear someone say it’s ugly. You can either change into your sweaty gym clothes rotting in your locker, or you can choose to ignore that comment and rock that outfit for the rest of the day. You are in control of your thoughts. So don’t feel pressured by what anyone says and keep moving forward.



The self-care I’m talking about probably isn’t what first comes to mind. If you’re imagining someone in a bathtub with rose petals, wearing a face mask with a wine glass in their hand, you’re very off-base from the type of self-care I’m addressing. Although someone’s self-care might look like what I just described, there are different ways of self-care for everyone. Self-care is essentially taking care of yourself physically and mentally by realizing that you are the most important person in your life. You need to love yourself before you love anybody else. Self-care can be anything that makes you feel as if you’re prioritizing yourself over others. It’s when you put yourself first by getting rid of all of the toxic people bringing you down and simply saying, “You know what? It’s about me now.” Self-care can even be reaching out to someone you love. For me, self-care is simply doing what makes me forget about the outside world for a few hours. I love five minute meditations and buying myself flowers; simple things that make me happy. However, there needs to be a limit to breaks. Breaks aren’t times to slack off, but they’re opportunities to acknowledge your hard work. Keep taking care of yourself because you’re all you’ve got. No one is going to take care of you in the way that you need except for you.


Love yourself

Every step you just read all leads up to self-love. Loving yourself is the most important thing in the world. Always prioritize yourself first, and then take care of the other people you love.


These five super-secret steps to reaching a level of peace have helped me become a lot more confident. I was inspired to write this after I saw a drastic change in my habits. Looking back at my terrible phase of ignoring my responsibilities as my life was falling apart makes me wish someone had told me about the importance of self-care and mental health sooner. I wanted to write this to remind everyone reading this that they aren’t alone when it comes to stress in school. Whenever I feel like I might go back to my bad habits, I take a deep breath and make sure that I don’t lose sight of what’s truly important. Honestly, self-love is the holy grail of happiness. My dad once told me that if you’re struggling mentally or physically, you will never be able to succeed no matter how smart you are. Therefore, prioritizing your mental health is the key to succeeding in your life. I am so proud of everyone in this school for almost making it to the end of the year—we got this!