Being a Teenager
You’ve probably heard that the teen years can be some of the best but some of the hardest in life. You have your whole life ahead of you, which can be so scary and so exciting at the same time. You also have a lot on your plate. There is homework, exams to study for, sports, friends, parents, the SAT to prepare for, college applications, job applications, and so many other pressures that are unique to you.
High School Pressures
If you’re a freshman, you’re getting used to a new school, harder classes, and maybe some new friends too. If you’re a junior or a senior, you’re thinking about what happens after high school. You probably have so many questions flying through your mind. Do I want to go to college? How do I get into college? Who pays for college? What do I want to study? Will I have the same friends after high school? How do I live on my own? All of these questions and unknowns can bring up feelings of anxiety, excitement, doubt, and maybe some fear.
Coping with Being a Teen
So how do you cope with being a teen? Do you try to push these difficult feelings away and tell yourself you’ll worry about it later. Maybe you lie awake at night worrying about the future and feel anxious every day. This can make you feel hopeless and out of control. However, while a lot of your life can feel like it’s out of your control, you do have control over more than you think. You have control over your own mental health. Many adults have learned the hard way that mental health takes work and time. But if you start taking care of your mind as a teen, you will save yourself a lot of problems in the future.
Being Mentally Healthy
So how do you manage your stress and take care of your mental health when you already have so little time to do everything else? Here are a few simple things you can do every day to prevent things like anxiety and depression from creeping into your life.
10 Tips for Self-Care
1. Check in with your mind: It’s so easy to go through the day and never notice what we’re thinking. When you wake up in the morning, what thoughts are going through your mind? How quickly are these thoughts moving? If you wake up and immediately have hundreds of thoughts racing through your mind, you are likely to feel stressed for the rest of the day. Bringing some awareness to your thoughts can help you notice what you’re worried about or stressing about.
2. Check in with your body: We also need to check in with how we’re feeling physically. You might feel tight in your shoulders or in your stomach. Maybe you clench your jaw when you’re anxious. Maybe you’re so busy that you hardly notice when you’re hungry. These feelings can become so normal that we don’t even feel them anymore, but if we bring a little attention to our bodies, we can start to relax these areas that tend to take on the most tension.
3. Breathe deeply: Deep breathing is a proven technique for stress management. It does such awesome things for our bodies, like reducing blood pressure and lowering the stress hormone cortisol. It is so easy to go through the day and never take a deep breath. By taking a few seconds a few times a day to simply breathe, we can do amazing things for our mental health.
4. Practice gratitude: Take a few minutes each day to think about what you’re grateful for. You can do this first thing in the morning or while you’re brushing your teeth, but thinking positively and noticing the good things in your life can do great things for your mental health.
5. Do something you love: You might be so busy that you feel like you only have time to do things you have to do. Schedule in some time to do what you love to do. Maybe it’s reading a book for fun, watching netflix, playing with your dog, skateboarding, drawing, or painting. We need these little joys in order to keep doing the things we have to do.
6. Be Mindful: Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judgement. This may seem like a simple thing to do, but it could not be harder! We are so used to thinking about a million things at once, that it seems nearly impossible to just notice. Start small, by just noticing something you smell, taste, see, hear, or touch throughout your day. Soon, you’ll spend more time noticing and less time thinking and worrying.
7. Reflect on and talk about your feelings: We have so many feelings throughout each day that it’s often hard to keep up with them. At the end of the day, reflect on the feelings you had and either share them with someone or write them in a journal. It helps to get your feelings out instead of holding on to them.
8. Spend time with someone you love (even 5 minutes!): Spending time with loved ones is a wonderful way to reduce stress. Maybe you have dinner with your family, or talk to a friend, but feeling love every day can have major health benefits.
9. Nourish your body: When we get busy, we tend to eat food that is fast and easy and we eat it quickly. These foods are often not the healthiest options for our bodies. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to something delicious, but if we don’t have the nutrition our bodies need, it can start to impact our mental health. Take time to ask your body what it needs and eat some foods that give it energy.
10. Exercise your body: We all know that exercise is healthy for our bodies, but it’s also soooo helpful for our minds. Try to do some sort of physical exercise every day, whether it’s taking your dog for a walk, dancing in your room by yourself, or jumping on a trampoline, getting your body moving is part of a healthy mind.
Schedule it In!
Every person is unique and some of these ideas may work for you and others may not. The only way to discover what works is to try out a lot of different things and the only way to make a self-care plan work is to schedule it into your life. It can be difficult at first to find the time to squeeze all of these things into your already crazy schedule, but over time it will become second nature. Your mind and your body will thank you for investing in yourself!
Print these self-care tips and hang them somewhere you look at every day to remind yourself to do something small to take care of yourself daily.
Counseling for Teens
At BPC, we have therapists who love working with teens. Visit our Teen Counseling page to learn more about how we can help you learn to manage stress and become a healthy, well-balanced adult. Visit our Contact us to set up a free 20 minute phone consultation if you’re interested in meeting with someone.