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Key Takeaways:

  • Self-care entails activities that enable teenagers to minimize stress and improve their physical and mental health.
  • It’s essential for teenagers to practice self-care, as it improves mood, productivity, energy, and physical health.
  • Teenagers can practice self-care by getting enough sleep, adhering to a balanced diet, getting exercise, and spending time in nature.

Modern-day teenagers are more depressed, anxious, and lonely than their predecessors [*]. Thus, it isn’t uncommon for them to neglect their self-care. Yet, self-care for teens is more necessary than ever.

As a parent or caregiver, watching your teen succumb to depressive habits can be challenging. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to improve your child’s self-care habits.

The Importance of Self-Care for Teens

Self-care is essential for teenagers as they face insecurities, academic pressures, and the general desire to fit in. Through self-care, teenagers can relieve some of the stress they experience in school and with friends.

As per a 2018 study, teenagers who practiced self-care felt better about themselves and were better at coping with stressful life events [*]. Self-care can also curb perfectionist tendencies, wherein teenagers hold themselves to unrealistic standards.

By practicing self-care, teenagers can better manage mental health concerns and improve their physical health.

Benefits of Practicing Self-Care

Self-care routines have been clinically proven to eliminate anxiety and depression in teenagers by increasing their happiness and reducing stress [*]. The other benefits of practicing self-care include the following:

  • Reduces the chances of developing physical ailments like heart disease, stroke, and cancer
  • Allows individuals to achieve balance in different areas of their lives
  • Fosters and sustains positive relationships
  • Enables better sleep quality
  • Improves productivity
  • Reduces risk of burnout
  • Improves self-esteem and self-confidence

Self-Care Tips for Teens

Self-care may not always come naturally to a teenager. Here are a few self-care tips for teens you can suggest.

1. Eat a balanced and healthy diet

When the body is stressed, it doesn’t crave the healthiest foods. However, staying physically nourished can improve mood and energy levels. Teenagers’ bodies are still developing, so introducing nutrients like iron, calcium, and vitamin D is essential.

Find palatable ways to incorporate essential food groups like fruits and vegetables into your teenagers’ diets by discovering recipes together.

2. Engage in regular exercise and physical activity

Not all teenagers are natural athletes, but it doesn’t mean they can’t get their fair share of physical activity. Consider other methods of exercise, such as dance classes, yoga, or long walks with the family dog.

3. Get enough sleep

Lacking sleep can be detrimental to a teenager’s thinking and negatively affect their emotional health. Most teenagers require seven to eight hours a night to reap the benefits of good-quality sleep, which include lowering the risk of health problems, feeling recharged, and being in a good mood.

However, a proper sleep schedule can be challenging to adopt. Follow our tips to improve sleep to help your child get enough rest.

4. Express your emotions

Teenagers need a safe space to express themselves and to feel confident that they won’t be received with judgment. Start by using a feelings chart to help them identify their emotions. Labeling emotions can lead to tangible solutions by understanding why your teenager feels a certain way.

5. Develop coping strategies for stress

Different people respond to different coping mechanisms. It’s essential to consider your teens personality and lifestyle to determine what stress-reducing activities are most successful for them.

For instance, an active teenager may find physical activity to be the most effective coping strategy, whereas an artistic teenager may fare better journaling.

6. Build and maintain healthy relationships

It isn’t always easy for a teenager to confide in a parent or teacher. Instead, they may be more comfortable talking to friends. Encourage healthy, positive, and communicative relationships with their peers and offer an environment where they can talk or enjoy projects together.

7. Set boundaries

While it’s important to check in with your teenager, setting healthy boundaries can help them establish a sense of self-worth and independence. Boundaries allow teenagers to reflect and sit with their feelings without the pressure of having to confide in someone else.

Respecting boundaries and personal space can also help parents learn to interact with their teenagers better. They can confidently understand when stepping in is appropriate and when their children need time to themselves.

8. Be mindful

Being mindful means being present in the moment and finding opportunities to calm down. If you find that your teenager is constantly worrying about the future, introducing mindfulness is a great way to get them to reflect on the “here and now.”

Remind your child to take a mindful break by meditating, reading, or finding quiet time.

9. Practice gratitude

Gratitude does wonders for mental health, as it provides teenagers with opportunities to reflect on their luck and privilege. In today’s fast-paced social landscape, it isn’t uncommon for a teenager to crave instant gratification.

By taking the time to be thankful, teenagers may realize they are already blessed with what they need. Practice gratitude together by participating in a gratitude circle, saying gratitude affirmations, starting a family gratitude jar, or writing letters to each other.

10. Set limits on screen time and social media use

Social comparison between teenagers is inevitable and can provide opportunities to keep them motivated. However, being ever-present on social media can affect teenagers negatively.

Chronically online teenagers may experience poor mental health because of constant comparison, a fear of missing out (FOMO), and technology addiction. Social media can also contribute to low self-esteem, as teenagers constantly strive to prove themselves to their peers.

Thus, limiting screen time can prevent teenagers from engaging in constant comparison and help them develop healthier real-life perspectives.

11. Spend time in nature

Nature has an uncanny knack for generating positive emotions like calmness and joy. When we are removed from the urban world, we have opportunities to temporarily forget our woes and focus on achieving a better, more relaxed headspace.

In fact, formal treatments like ecotherapy are becoming more common in programs for depression and anxiety. You and your teenager can enjoy simple outdoor pleasures like gardening, taking a walk in nature, or visiting an animal sanctuary.

The Bottom Line

Self-care is becoming increasingly important for teenagers facing modern pressures. With these self-care activities for teens, your child can develop sustainable coping mechanisms that arm them in challenging circumstances.

Explore our other stress management worksheets for activities to practice at home and in school.

Sources

  1. Gerasimos Konstantinou, Attia M. “Perspective Chapter: From the Boom to Gen Z – Has Depression Changed Across Generations?” IntechOpen eBooks, 2023.
  2. Oberle E. “Early Adolescents’ Emotional Well‐Being in the Classroom: The Role of Personal and Contextual Assets.” Journal of School Health, 2018.
  3. “Caring for Your Mental Health.” National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 2024.