Self care is generally reserved for adults, but if you really think about it, self care for teens is important, too. If parents encourage self-care in their children at a young age, they are more likely to continue healthy practices when they become adults.
Young people need to be exposed to different activities that they can incorporate into their busy schedules to learn to prioritize their well-being and adopt wellness routines that they can carry into their adult lives.
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What is self care?
Self care is taking care of your basic needs. It’s doing things to take care of your physical needs and mental well-being. For teens, it’s practicing healthy behaviors consistently so that they can grow up to be healthier, happier adults.
Why do teens need to focus on self care?
Being a teen is a tough job. Sometimes, I’m not sure that we give teens enough credit for the number of challenges they face. Teens are faced with navigating life with an incredible amount of pressure at home, at school, and in the community.
Focusing on learning to navigate life and living up to the expectations of family members while dealing with pressures from parents, teachers, and peers can overshadow the need to pay attention to their overall health. Therefore, adults need to encourage self care in teens to help them make it a habit to live a healthy lifestyle.
How can teenagers learn to prioritize their well-being?
Young people can start doing little things right now to help them learn to prioritize self care. Focusing on healthy living now may prevent them from dealing with health conditions in the future.
Here are some activities that will promote a more balanced lifestyle in teenagers:
1. Take brain breaks
Throughout the school year, teens are engaged in learning activities that are usually rigorous and challenging. Encourage them to take brain breaks if they tend to get frustrated while they are learning. Encouraging teens to take rest breaks when engaged in hard work is one of the best ways to help them learn how to manage challenging situations.
2. Participate in extracurricular activities
Extracurricular activities have proven effects on the overall development of young people. Crimson Education lists 8 benefits of participating in extracurricular activities. Encourage your teens to think about their interests and find activities that they can participate in and enjoy. In addition to having fun, they’ll also learn how important it is to do something that you love doing.
3. Volunteer with community organizations
Even though volunteering is beneficial to the organization that you’re helping, it also has several benefits for the volunteer. Doing something good for others somehow helps you to feel better, too. There are probably several organizations in your community that would love to have some volunteers.
4. Seek mental health resources
As teens develop and grow into young adults, their minds can be overloaded with things that negatively impact their mental health. Adults can expose teens to a variety of mental health activities so that they are aware of the resources that are available to them. Normalizing seeking mental health assistance is a great way to encourage mental wellness.
5. Take a fitness class
Fitness classes are a great form of self care. In addition to increased energy levels, teens can also reap other health benefits from incorporating exercise into their self-care routine.
6. Play with a pet
Playing with pets is not only fun, but it gives teens an opportunity to exercise and spend time outdoors. The CDC states that playing with pets has a positive impact on mental and physical health.
7. Listen to music
Listening to music is a great form of self care. In addition to being relaxing, it can also help improve your mood. If your teen isn’t already a fan of music, consider encouraging them to listen to uplifting, upbeat music more often.
8. Eat nutritious foods
Making healthy food choices has several benefits. Teens have a high metabolism, so finding ways to encourage a healthy diet as often as you can is key. Taking simple steps like making healthy snack options available at home is a great way to encourage teens to eat foods that are good for them.
9. Do a word search puzzle
Word search puzzles are a great activity for teens. Not only do they help improve vocabulary skills, they also provide a means to disconnect from daily stresses. Another added benefit of word search puzzles is that it helps to reduce screen time.
10. Get a good night’s sleep
If teens are involved in extracurricular activities, they are likely worn out by the end of the day. Talk to your teen about getting adequate rest and encourage them to be more intentional about getting enough sleep.
11. Limit time playing video games
A study by Dartmouth College revealed that video games could impact adolescent behavior. Though teens may enjoy playing these games, limiting exposure to violent games can positively affect their overall well-being.
12. Learn about sexual health
Parents tend to shy away from conversations about sex, but it’s so important to have open conversations with your teens. It’s not always comfortable to have these tough conversations with teens, but several experts stress the importance of talking to young people about sex at an early age.
How do I help my teenager with self care?
Parents should be intentional about helping their teens with self care. It takes intentionality to help teenagers see how important it is to focus on their physical, mental, and emotional health.
A great way to begin the conversation about self care is simply to discuss the definition of self care together. You could also help them by asking them to reflect on the activities and people in their lives that make them feel their best. Have them write those activities and people down and then make plans to incorporate those things into their life as much as possible.
Perhaps the best way to help your teen with self care is to model what it looks like to put yourself first, yet still take care of your responsibilities. Teens need to see that it’s possible to put themselves first and still take care of the people and things around them.