Self-care and mental health tips for teens can go a long way towards reducing the impact that stress can have on their lives. Teenagers face a myriad of challenges as they approach adulthood, from an ever-growing list of responsibilities to the social and physical awkwardness that comes with puberty, to the difficulties of navigating relationships in the 21st century with the ubiquity of the Internet. In addition to various social changes, teens today also face the uncertain impact of social media and cyberbullying, online image problems, and a rising spike in cases of anxiety and depression.
Recognizing and standing up to these challenges can be very difficult, even with the full support of friends and family members. It’s more important than ever for teens to be aware of how their daily stressors can impact their thoughts and feelings, and how simple techniques can help them combat these stressors, overcome their challenges, and build their confidence for the future. Let’s explore a few mental health tips for teens on building resilience in the face of stress.
Embrace Resources and Mental Health Tips for Teens
One of the most important mental health tips of teens is a boring one and has little to do with self-care. While it’s important to emphasize your agency when dealing with your mental and physical health, it’s also important to recognize that the nature of a serious mental health issue can be debilitating and paralyzing. Not everyone is equipped to deal with the way their anxiety or mood changes affect their relationships with others, or their ability to participate in a normal life with their peers. Many teens struggle with undiagnosed mental health issues that cannot reliably be dealt with alone.
If you feel like you’re completely isolated, drowning, and left to your own devices at times, ask for help. Embrace the resources available to you and get in touch with a professional. Talk to a guidance counselor, a parent, or a teacher. Seek out online local and governmental resources, alone or with a friend, to schedule an appointment with a professional and get a diagnosis. Sometimes, being able to put a name to how you’re feeling can be incredibly liberating, let alone the impact that a first-line treatment can make. Do not be afraid to make that first step towards a better life. There’s no need to struggle alone.
Seek Help From an Adult
Even if you don’t feel like seeking out mental health resources over your problems, you can still get a little help by communicating with an adult. Talk to your teacher or parent about how you’re feeling. Open up to them. Listen to what they have to say. Parents need to know how to communicate with their kids when they’re having a hard time balancing their thoughts.
Things can get overwhelming for teens, between sports, school responsibilities, new relationships, bullying, self-image, and the expectations of the future. Many parents will remember what it was like to be a teen and may help their kid by relating to their experiences and bringing up some of the ways they coped back then. If your parents aren’t helpful, you can always seek help from a counselor or therapist.
Explore Constructive Coping Skills
There are constructive and destructive coping skills. To cope means to live with, or even in spite of a negative circumstance. But some coping skills are better or worse than others. Destructive coping skills include drinking, substance use, engaging in violence, bullying and self-harm. Constructive coping skills help build up a teen’s self-esteem through skills building, better physical health, a healthier sense of self, and include hobbies such as:
- Tinkering or mechanical work
- Pursuing a personal project
- Taking up a sport or athletic goal
If you don’t have any hobbies you enjoy, or if you need new hobbies, it’s a good idea to try things out with a friend or relative. Picking up a new interest or hobby with someone else can help you stay consistent. Coping skills can also be irrespective of a hobby or interest, such as talking outdoor walks or hikes in the forest, swimming or other physical activities, or journaling.
Implement Meditative Activity
Aside from different interests or coping skills, it can also be a good idea to pursue a deliberately meditative activity. Find something to do that keeps you away from distracting conversations, screens, media, and other stimuli. Some people like to meditate in the mornings – others meditate through physical expression, like yoga. Others yet enjoy meditative activities that don’t seem meditative at first, such as room cleaning, gardening, or long walks alone.
The point of a meditative activity is to emphasize mindfulness and self-reflection. A lot of mental health issues are exacerbated or emphasized through negative thoughts and unwanted, intrusive emotions. Mindfulness represents taking an active approach to shaping the way we feel and, as an extension, the way we act. A meditative activity can help you prime yourself for a better day through affirmative and positive thoughts, gratitude, and other mental exercises while you go through the motions.
Visit Support Groups
Aside from healthy self-care and seeking help when it’s needed, another useful way to cope with your inner thoughts and the challenges of teen life is by talking to other teens with similar issues. Seeking out support groups for your particular diagnosis, or just hanging out with other teens who share similar school and home life problems can help you gain an appreciation for the way other people cope, learn how their experiences shaped positive or negative outcomes, and learn more about yourself in the process.
Impromptu support groups can be toxic. Sometimes, people get together because of shared trauma or similar experiences, but cope in negative ways (self-destructive habits, from drug taking to delinquency). Seek out support groups headed by teens or adults interested in shaping a positive and accepting space for people who want to improve and feel better, through therapy and healthy coping skills.
There are many other ways to deal with the stressors of life, and their impact on mental health, including practiced gratitude, doing something for others, and encouraging those around you to take better care of their own needs as well. Whenever you feel lost or at the brink, it’s important to call for help and get in touch with a professional. The teen years can be difficult, but they’re also often the onset for most mental health problems, from depression to schizophrenia. If you’re struggling with the way you feel, there’s never any shame in talking to someone about it.