There’s a strong link between health and happiness, and productivity and success, according to author Jerome Doraisamy.
And yet often this link is forgotten during times of high intensity, or high-pressured work, particularly when it comes to high school students.
Doraisamy wants to help, with his new self help book The Wellness Doctrines for High School Students.
It follows on from his successful 2015 book on wellness for law students and lawyers, and is something you might want to consider for the high school students in your life — to not only support them through these difficult years, but also to set themselves up with good wellness habits well into their careers.
Doraisamy, a lawyer, writer and journalist, experienced a breakdown just before finishing law school, but was able to rebuild himself and turn the experience into an opportunity to reassess his priorities, and help others. On reflecting more on his high school days, he realised that many of the reasons that led to his breakdown started in high school.
“It was the pessimism, the perfectionism, and coming in to year 12 desperately trying to do well,” he says.
“I believe there are many high school students experiencing the same thing.”
The underlying message of the book is that if you prioritise your health and happiness, it will give you a much better chance of being a productive student.
It’s also a reminder to students that they are a “person first, and a student second”. The latter can’t exist without the former — a message that we can all consider when it comes to our work.
Doraisamy adds that the book is written especially to meet the demands of our education system, which he describes as “incredibly perfectionist”, especially when university admissions are determined by ranking. “That’s giving students a clear avenue by which to measure their perceived self worth,” he says. “While we as adults can say to a Year 12 student that ‘it’s not the end of the world’, many of these students will never have experienced anything as significant or big as that final year. So the idea that it can be ‘the end of the world’ becomes a reasonable assumption for them to make.”
He says his book advocates for students to take individual responsibility over their wellness, reminding them that it’s key to their productivity. “It’s about being proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to your health and wellbeing.”
There is no one blanket solution when it comes to managing a student’s wellbeing, rather students need to figure out what works for them. For Doraisamy, it was teams sports and reading books that helped, while mindfulness and meditation achieved little. There’s also socialising, and even ‘guilty pleasures’ that have their place, like a Netflix binge. “A binge is not as healthy as a run obviously, and they’re designed to be used sporadically, but it’s recognising that these things can be nice and a good way to indulge.
“It’s incumbent upon a teenager to figure out what activities will be beneficial to them, to make them feel better, and give themselves something to look forward to, and to better balance their schedules.”
Doraisamy also writes about the importance of sleep for high school students. While conceding that high school hours are not necessarily well structured for this age group, he says students can still figure out how to best schedule study and other activities outside of official hours.
Doraisamy spoke to a wide range of experts in the ‘high school sphere’ during his research, including recent grads, parents, careers counsellors, school principals and mental health professionals.
“If we’re going be proactive about health and wellbeing, what better place to start than with children? It will be paramount to their productivity and success while at school, but it also sets them up to have balance once they leave,” he says.