Being a senior in high school the pressure to get my life together has been heavier than ever. At the beginning of this school year I knew I was going to be busy in piles of college applications, extra curriculars, and sports. I on many occasions have tried to be a planner person. Those people who carry around their planner with every single detail about their schedule, assignments, and workout routine. I never succeeded because I didn't have much going on other than sports. This year I forced myself to stick to my planner and I finally followed through. I had so much going on it was hard to keep track on my phone calendar and notes app. Especially now due to virtual learning and having to rely on technology, I have learned to appreciate things that don't have screens. Writing things out helps it stay in my brain, along with giving me a visual representation of what my week was going to consist of.
Time management has always been an issue for me, but once I started to plan out my days around healthy routines I stopped procrastinating. This is important for your personal and professional life. While many people think of productivity as it relates to their job, you also want to be productive at home. This might include getting cleaning and home organization done, or working on projects you keep putting it off. Regardless of what it is, planners help you to stay on track with each individual task you need to complete, and encourages you to move on to the next one effectively and efficiently. Stress has many forms, but a common denominator is the feeling of being overwhelmed. You are often stressed due to a hectic schedule, having too many demands, or just putting too much on your plate. Outside influences also affect your stress level, but think about how different it could be when you actually have time for everything and are able to seamlessly go from one responsibility to the next without having to worry about missing something, being late, or having to back out at the last minute. You can also use your planner to schedule self-care activities.
Now that I am almost into the third quarter of the school year I can proudly say that it's been my most productive year. My planner allowed me to set time aside for my personal growth and explore new hobbies. I like to separate my hobbies into three key parts. I have hobbies that improve my knowledge, physical health, and mental state. This can be a range of this, for instance I tried out a new cycling class and loved it. I got in some physical exercise while having fun. You don't have to join a club or gym in order to find a hobby, you can clean your mental state by going for a coffee on your way to a morning walk. How can you incorporate nature into your self-care practice? Bringing it into your home is the easiest way, using houseplants and container gardens. Most plants need only light, soil, and water to thrive, making them suitable for urban spaces. Nature-based self-care is also associated with lower levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Further, the bacteria found in plant life may help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Studies suggest that just looking at nature can make a difference.
In addition to this, planners can help broaden your horizons and get you involved in creative activities. I was shocked when I found out that the creative art piece I did didn’t have to be perfect. I am a perfectionist and if I mess up in any way, I will restart it until I get it right. That's the beauty in creative activities like painting and sculpting. You can make absolutely anything you want, and pant whatever you want and it's okay. Along with stickers, a self journaling page, and a goal page, some planners have a draw your mood page. It is usually a thicker page where you can paint, draw with pen, pencil, or permanent marker because there are no rules. For a lot of us, access to our creativity ends once art is no longer a required course in order to graduate. We hang up the markers, colored pencils, watercolor paints, and convince ourselves we’re “not very artistic,” when that actually isn’t a requirement for this form of self-expression. Studies show that the levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone, drastically drop when we spend time making art. Artistic or not, we all deal with stress. So maybe it’s time we explore the avenue of arts and crafts as a form of self-care. Art therapy is a long-standing mental health practice using art materials and creative expression to treat those who experience anxiety, depression, social difficulties, or medical ailments. By creating art, no matter the skill level, we engage our mind, body, and spirit in a way that is restorative and comes with a host of benefits. Practicing art therapy helps to reduce stress and anxiety, while also increasing self-esteem. Get a planner or agenda pad where you can organize your thoughts, routines, hobbies, and academic work. Try It!