Trying internet self-help tips for a week


Jay Walker-Schulte

A student reading about self help tips

Jay Walker-Schulte and Emily Schmidt

As mental illnesses and stress become more prominent within the scope of our teenage lives, thousands of coping mechanisms have been created and compiled into lists as a way to alleviate symptoms without the aid of therapists, medication, or doctors. This can be potentially harmful, however, when those who spread these ideas aren’t fully informed about mental illness. We tested out five popular “self help” and “life-improving” tips to see if they actually boosted our moods. Please bear in mind that everyone is different and may not experience the same results as we did.

Day One (Wednesday, October 24th): Exercise more

Jay: I typically don’t force myself to exercise–I’d rather play video games in my precious free-time. However, it’s heavily recommended (especially for those with depression) to exercise regularly. Personally? I refuse to do anything outside of the gym. I stepped out of my comfort zone, though, and did some at-home work. I’d love to describe how great I felt afterwards, yet de facto I didn’t really retrieve an overwhelming sense of achievement from the experience. I assume that regular exercise does in fact act as a mood-booster, but a one-off instance most likely won’t ever make a huge impact.

Emily: Exercise has always been my go-to stress reliever and feel good activity. The reason I did cross country freshman and sophomore year was because of the “runner’s high”. When we decided on exercise as one of our options, I was stoked. I opted to do an ab workout instead of hitting the treadmill or pavement for some cardio like I usually would. Maybe it was the Ke$ha I had beating my ear drums, but I was super motivated afterwards. I felt no different than usual otherwise which is why I’m attributing it to Ke$ha. It could be because of how regularly I exercise. I totally understand not everyone is like me (no joke, I get super testy if I go a while without a good workout) and would rather sell their soul than hit the gym. While everyone may not get the same result/reaction it’s proven that physical activity like workouts or even something as simple as a walk releases endorphins and a chemical called serotonin that regulates emotions such as anxiety and happiness. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression. It doesn’t even have to be a “workout”. It could be something like playing fetch with your dog. Because of its proven benefits, I’d say exercise is one of the first steps to take to improve your life.

Day Two (Thursday, October 25th): Clean Up

Jay: I don’t think that I’m a slob, but when I get overloaded with school and volunteer work I’m definitely not motivated to clean. (My mom can attest to that.) And the busier I am, the harder it is to clean up. When I get home I’m a fan of flopping down onto my bed right away. However, the self-care guru tips demand what they demand. And, surprisingly, I felt great in a snap! I hadn’t realized it, but the piles of clothes and discarded stacks of homework was enveloping me in a negative aura. Once everything was cleared away, I felt lighter–the room seemed brighter and it was easier to not want to nap. If your room is untidy I’d recommend a little bit of jazz to add a spring to your step paired with ten minutes to spare after school.

Emily: This one didn’t do it for me. It was kind of satisfying to look at my newly organized room, but the amount of effort I had to put into the overhaul caused more frustration than anything else. Completing a task just unveiled another one. Perhaps it will be more rewarding and effective for people who get enjoyment out of cleaning or are super organized or neat already and don’t have to spend an unholy amount of time to be content with their organization. It probably didn’t help that I was reminding myself my valiant struggle would be ruined in a week tops.

Day Three (Friday, October 26th): Watch comedy

Jay: As silly as it sounds, whenever I need a good time, I love watching wacky animal videos. If you show me a cat wearing a cowboy hat, I’ll probably cackle to my heart’s content. Unfortunately, I get plenty of laughs throughout my day; so as much as I enjoyed watching a cat papping his owner’s face, it wasn’t life-changing.

Emily: People say laughter is the best medicine. Like exercise, laughter releases endorphins and burns calories. It has also been shown to decrease stress hormones and increase immune cells as well as relax muscles in your body for up to 45 minutes afterward. While watching a couple episodes of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” I felt was more relaxed, but wasn’t any happier than usual after. While comedies are entertaining and a great way to take your mind off things, I would not recommend using binge watching comedy specials or series on Netflix as a “coping mechanism”.

Day Four (Saturday, October 27th): Do something you’ve always wanted to do but don’t have time for

Jay: I love playing video games. I’m a bit of a fanatic. However, it’s hard to set aside time, especially if you’re like me and single-player games tend to suck you in. I genuinely enjoyed setting some time aside for myself without feeling ashamed. I replayed a section of Quantic Dream’s “Detroit: Become Human”, then promptly after crying my eyes out over the chapter I was on, I took a fat nap. Video games might not be the healthiest way to deal with problems, but it certainly aides in taking one’s mind off of them.

Emily: Arguably the best part of weekends is getting whole days of free time instead of an hour or two after school and extracurriculars. The weekend gives me time to indulge in my creative side with activities I can’t cram into the week. Playing the guitar, coloring, and reading are my top picks. Each of them offer a different way to escape the stress and monotony of everyday life and get swept into something unique and beautiful. I’ll be the first to admit I’m no Ed Sheeran on the guitar, but the proving your talent isn’t the point. Sometimes all it takes to get you out of a funk is a change of pace or scenery.

Day Five (Sunday, October 28th): Set your alarm half an hour early

Jay: This. Was. The. Worst. If the early bird gets the worm, then I suppose sis ain’t eating too good. Please, don’t torture yourself by doing this. I had to slam down a home-brewed coffee and an additional Starbucks frappuccino to kick-start my day, and by the afternoon I felt like Frankenstein’s Bride.

Emily: I did even better than half an hour early. I had a 7:30 indoor game for high school soccer, so I was up and moving roughly five hours earlier than I normally am on weekends. Waking up earlier didn’t affect my mood, however. It felt like a typical day. I had the same energy and enthusiasm as I always do. In fact, some people may need to do the opposite and sleep in to feel any improvement. Getting proper amounts of rest is very important to staying healthy, so if you do plan on waking up earlier, maybe set aside time the night before for a few extra hours of sleep.

It’s totally okay to take a break everyone once in awhile. Life might be important, but it can’t go on without you. We can’t say that anything a self-help guru says is the bonafide truth—but that doesn’t mean that taking the advice could hurt at all. Take a break. Have a laugh. Go ahead and read those silly inspirational quotes on Pinterest. You deserve it.