Self-Care for Teenagers

Tips for Helping Teens Manage Stress

Today’s teens face increased pressure in all aspects of their lives—from trying to “keep up” with their peers academically and socially to thinking about their future during uncertain times. Most parents try to strike a balance between easing everyday stress and encouraging their children to move forward with their hopes and dreams. This short guide to self-care for teenagers can help.

Share these tips with your student so they can prevent stress before it starts, and find methods of coping when stress occurs.  

Go to Bed at a Consistent Time

Teens are known for staying up until the wee hours of the morning, both to hang out with friends and because school requires more hours of homework than ever before. While burning the midnight oil may seem like the thing to do, research has shown that consistent bedtimes can have a positive impact on academic performance. 

Encourage your teen to try and get at least nine hours of sleep a night. The better rested your student is, the better they will feel and fare.

Start the Day With Gratitude

It’s not uncommon for teens to feel stressed about college applications, schoolwork, and what the future holds for them. Finding ways to offset that stress is key. Gratitude can help reduce stress hormones and keep away negative emotions—such as resentment, envy, depression, and regret. 

You can help by reminding your student that when they’re anxious it’s a good time to refocus on what is good in their life, no matter how big or small it may be. Those good feelings can help get them through each day with a more positive mindset.

Eat Breakfast!

Studies show that after fasting throughout the night, breakfast helps replenish the stores of energy and nutrients in your body. This is especially important for teenagers going through growth spurts. Eating a nutritious breakfast will not only provide energy, but help with focus. Teens who eat breakfast tend to have higher grades and more consistent sleep patterns than their peers who don’t eat breakfast. If your teen resists the idea of sitting down for breakfast, try something they can take with them like a healthy granola bar or fruit they can eat on their way to school.

Write in a Journal

Keeping a journal can be a great way to practice self-care, especially if your teen is someone who finds it easier to process their thoughts and feelings on paper rather than out loud. Journaling can be a powerful and therapeutic way for teens to understand their emotions and express themselves freely. 

Encourage your teen to keep a journal by suggesting they set a daily or weekly schedule for writing in it. The goal is for journaling to become a part of their routine.

Make Time for Exercise

Whether it’s joining an after-school sports program or simply shooting hoops with friends, studies show that exercise releases endorphins, which can help your teen manage stress, anxiety, and emotions better. Plus, getting enough exercise can help your teen sleep better at night. 

If your teen needs a little push to make time for exercise, suggest they try starting with small goals, like going outside for 10 minutes after school or walking around the neighborhood after dinner.

Engage in Acts of Kindness

Numerous research studies have found that doing something nice for someone else can lead to increased happiness, decreased stress, and improved resiliency. This can be attributed to several factors, including the fact that people who practice acts of kindness are likely to feel more valued, which boosts their happiness levels.

Acts of kindness can be as simple as picking up a treat for a friend who’s been struggling, helping a classmate or sibling with their homework, opening the door for a stranger, assisting someone with their luggage on an airplane. All of these acts help us feel good about ourselves and build more genuine connections within our community.  

Take Breaks From Tech

Smartphones, tablets, and computers are an essential part of daily life, but they can also be a source of stress and anxiety for teens. Many feel pressured to respond to texts or social media posts in a timely way, or get the sense that their online lives are more important than their in-person lives. 

Taking small breaks from technology, either by putting away your phone or going outside and disconnecting from the grid entirely, can be an effective way to practice self-care and reduce feelings of stress related to technology. Replacing technology with focused breathing (take a deep breath in for ten counts and out for ten counts) can also help teens feel refreshed and ready to move forward.

Spend Time With Friends

Hanging out with friends not only helps your teen build relationships, but also provides them with a safe place to vent and get support. Whether it’s grabbing a snack together or shooting hoops, your teen is able to take a break and create special memories. As a result, they are ultimately building a community that they can count on. 

Commit to Something You Love

Engaging in a hobby or passion is a great way to practice self-care during the teen years. Whether it’s photography, cooking, or a sport, committing to a hobby can help your teen relieve stress, feel more creative, and gain a new appreciation for their skills and abilities. 

Be sure to check in with them and ask if they’re still enjoying the activity—that it’s not something they feel pressured to do. 

It All Adds Up.

Self-care is an important part of growing up, and while it may seem like something that only applies to adults, helping your teen practice self-care will set the foundation for a happy and healthy future.

By committing to one or more of these ways to practice self-care, your teen will learn how to manage stress while working towards academic and personal success.

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