How to Care for Your Mental Health in the IB.

Written By Ranjika B.

The IBDP is infamous for its high pressure, intense workload and the students’ general lack of sleep. Needless to say, these conditions don’t exactly foster good mental health conditions. IBDP students become highly prone to stress and anxiety, and in extreme cases this can even lead to burnout. It is extremely difficult to these with these conditions, but certain mental health rituals have been shown to reduce stress, and help students cope with the intense workload and pressure of the DP. 

DISCLAIMER: None of these rituals are a substitute for professional help. If you are struggling with mental health issues, please reach out to a professional. These rituals are only meant to help deal with pressure and stress, but if they are not enough for you, please do not hesitate to seek help from a qualified mental health professional. 

Keeping a journal helps immensely with organizing your thoughts. It is easy to get overwhelmed with IB due dates, examinations, CAS activities, personal life, college applications and so on. Keeping a journal and noting down all these thoughts helps students be more organized and has been shown to reduce stress by a large margin. A journal is also extremely customizable. For example, some keep very organized journals with plans, to do lists, calendars and habit trackers; while others just use them to vent out their feelings. Writing down the thoughts that are stressing you out helps in reducing tension and allows you to self reflect on your activities. 

2-Practicing gratitude
Practicing gratitude is another way to reduce stress and anxiety. It is easy to get lost in the negativity and pressures of everyday life, and sometimes we find ourselves without anything to feel happy for or look forward to. Writing down a few things that you are grateful for each day helps to shape a more positive outlook towards life, helping you be more happy and have more things to look forward to. Additionally, you can practice self gratitude, either through writing or through speaking to yourself in the mirror. Say five good things about yourself to appreciate yourself more. You can also practice gratitude with your friends, where you say good things about each other everyday. Practicing gratitude is crucial to having a positive outlook towards the IB and has been shown to make you more motivated in your day-to-day activities. 

This is an easy one, but often overlooked. Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin in the brain, that make you happier. It also helps you sleep better which plays a strong role in improving your mood. Physical activity also allows you to release any negative feelings you have and vent them out to feel better. “Activity” is an integral part of the IB CAS requirements for this very reason. Understanding the benefit of exercise and physical activity can allow those CAS experiences to be more enjoyable, and reduce stress and risk of other mental health issues. 

4-Following a routine
Following a daily routine is very good in reducing stress and forming healthy habits. Having a plan for how to tackle your day can reduce the stress of uncertainty and the overwhelming feeling you get when you have a lot to do and have no idea where to start it. Moreover, following a regular routine helps promote healthy habits and reduces the stress of having to do a lot of work the night before a deadline. 

5-Set small, achievable goals
Rather than looking at tasks as a big goal, break them down into smaller achievable goals to get a sense of accomplishment. Tasks have a tendency to appear more complex than they really are. “Write Extended Essay” is a huge goal, and can overwhelm you very easily. You are more likely to procrastinate on it if you look at the task as a whole, but you can easily break it up into smaller chunks to make it more manageable. For the Extended Essay, you could break it up into different stages of research, by paragraphs and sections or even by the number of words you write each day. Completing these small tasks will also give you a feeling of accomplishment and gain the confidence needed to complete other tasks. 

6-Try to get enough sleep
IB students are known for their inability to sleep due to their workload. But lack of sleep is actually very detrimental to your performance and mental health. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night strongly reduces stress and anxiety. Moreover, it gives you the energy to tackle your day. Rather than pulling an all-nighter, getting enough sleep improves focus and concentration, allowing you to study and work on assignments more effectively in shorter periods of time. Moreover, this will help improve mental health tremendously. 

By making a conscious effort to implement some of these in your daily life, your levels of stress and anxiety can reduce immensely. However if you find yourself struggling with mental health issues, please reach out to a professional. Usually your country will have a website with national resources for mental health issues. These rituals are very important to taking better care of mental health and being able to complete the IB with minimal stress. 

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