Self-Care for the Student Activist

Syd Smith

In today’s political climate, there is a myriad of issues to be passionate about. Depending on your political beliefs, you may find that a thousand things are going wrong (or right) in our government. Thankfully, the members of this generation seem to be incredibly aware of the challenges our polarized nation face and are willing to speak up and fight for the issues they believe in. However, with the constant access to the news through social media, the updates and headlines can become overwhelming. While being active in politics is incredibly important, mental health should be valued above all. MHS student Rupa Ballamudi and teacher Ms. Richter are familiar with these stressors and understand the difficulty of maintaining good mental health. Sharing ideas as to how to remain balanced as both an activist and student, these are tips we can all use regardless of political opinion.


In a recent survey conducted by The Cardinal Chronicle with over 200 responses, 70% of students reported that they found news about politics and political discourse to be stressful. Many students are unsure about how to balance their passion for activism with their mental wellbeing, leading to large amounts of stress. MHS student activist Rupa Ballamudi knows this stress well, saying “It’s difficult because you have a moral duty to speak up for those who don’t have a voice, and you want to do a good job.” Ballamudi has assisted with the March For Our Lives movement, is on the leadership board for MHS Girl Up, and is president of the High School Democrats of Wisconsin Middleton chapter.

Prioritizing is key when it comes to activism. Ballamudi says, “You have to find out what to prioritize. I have to finish AP Chem before I do Girl Up. It’s hard to choose school over activism because in my heart I care more about activism, but I have to put it as an extracurricular instead.”

Understanding that there are only so many hours in a day is critical to staying balanced and staying on top of your work. Ballamudi also credits her self-care routine for helping her feel sane, saying “Student activists and students have a problem with sleep in their self-care regimen. Staying up until 2:00 [am] in the morning then waking up at 5:00 [am] to do homework is not the best idea! Try your best to keep a regular schedule.”


While being organized and aware of your activities is great, sometimes it is not enough.

Self-care is not just keeping a calendar or staying on top of your classes. Sometimes it is creating a routine of mindfulness. MHS gym teacher Ms. Richter is the leader of Yoga Club, and she often sees students who are overwhelmed both academically and politically. She says, “The news is just so sad these days. Every time you watch it you just feel worse and worse. Add that to school pressures, and you’ve got a mess.”

Richter’s tips for staying well mentally are simple: “Be thankful for what you have, be kind to others, and focus on you and what you can control.”


Students often practice mindfulness in both Yoga Club and many gym classes, and Richter believes that practicing those skills outside of the classroom as well can be incredibly beneficial: “You always have your breathing with you, and you’ve always got mindfulness with you. Those tools can really make a difference in your life.”


The constant influx of tragic news updates can be exhausting and upsetting. It has become an everyday part of our modern lives, and we need to update our routines to accommodate this. MHS student Rupa Ballamudi and teacher Ms. Richter understand this stress, and we can all use their tips to stay mindful. Overall, focusing on ourselves and what we can control is incredibly important in order to keep a healthy mental state.