By River Pease, International trustee, Michigan District

As high school students, we have a lot on our plates. From a busy day of classes to sports and other extracurricular activities, it’s often tough to find the time to remain healthy, both physically and emotionally. This fall, I started my junior year of high school, and it’s already been incredibly busy. For this article, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite ‘high school hacks’ that may be beneficial for the remainder of your high school career.

The most important thing is sleep. Oftentimes, you may find yourself sacrificing sleep in exchange for a few extra minutes of studying or scrolling through TikTok (we’ve all wasted hours on that app, don’t worry). The best thing you can do for your physical and mental health is to get eight hours of sleep every night. A lack of sleep negatively impacts your cognitive abilities and academic performance and creates a sense of drowsiness that leads to a lack of productivity. I know that getting enough sleep is not nearly as easy as it sounds, and there are several ways to train yourself to get more sleep.

Set a sleeping schedule. If you wake up for school every day at 6 a.m., make it a priority to go to sleep at 10 p.m. or earlier. It is best to try and wind down for the evening at the same time each night to allow your body to regulate itself.

Don’t oversleep on weekends. Although it’s tempting to sleep until the afternoon on weekends, it’s best to try and maintain your sleep schedule even without school demanding your presence.

Take naps! School requires a lot of focus and is often draining even if you’re well rested. If you have 15-20 minutes, it’s proven beneficial to take a brief nap to restore your energy. No nap should be your substitute for sleep, however.

Sleep is only one aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Another is reframing your thinking to plot out the time you have available to work. Instead of thinking “I need to finish this assignment,” ask yourself, “When will I finish this assignment?”

Whenever possible, keep some supplies in your backpack such as pocket money, tissues, Tylenol and maybe even sunglasses. Being prepared for anything will limit the unexpected situations you find yourself in. And keep organized! Use clothe pouches and pockets to organize your school supplies. Order leads to inner calm and keeping your items neat and tidy will greatly improve your productivity throughout the day.

A helpful tip in both high school and college is to bond with your teachers/professors. Being respectful in class and greeting your teachers in the halls goes a long way when it comes to your success in class. Take advantage of office hours and ask for help. Your teachers are there to help you grow, and generally they’re ecstatic when students come to them for guidance. Additionally, if you miss a night’s homework, your teacher might be more willing to give you an extra day or two if they know you well.

Use online study tools, such as Quizlet and Chegg, for homework help. These websites make studying a breeze, and there truly is a program for every subject. Another helpful online program is Grammarly, which automatically checks and corrects your grammar. When writing essays, however, don’t only rely on Grammarly! Read your essay yourself and use a text-to-speech program to listen to your work and catch even more errors.

Set aside time during the day for homework. If you are someone who likes to socialize with your friends during free periods at school, that’s OK! Just know you’ll have to take the afternoon to finish your work. If you find it more beneficial, use every free second between classes and at lunch to complete your homework! I prefer to work during the school day and have a free evening.

Remember that your emotional well-being comes before any grade. Don’t skip meals to study longer or miss an extracurricular activity you love to prepare for a test the next day. Developing as a person is more than passing tests, and high school is a time to find out who you are and what you want for the rest of your life. Sometimes those answers don’t arise in the classroom, and that’s OK! Taking time for yourself and to relax is key to having not only a successful four years in high school, but a successful and happy life. This is a hard lesson to learn, and I know from personal experience how easy it is to distract yourself with constant busyness, but I promise you it won’t bring any real contentment.

A closing note: You may have noticed that many of these “hacks” only apply if you’re going to school in person. Check out other resources for virtual learning tips and more ways to juggle a busy schedule!