Instill the Value of Self-Care in Teens

Self-care is a big buzz word thrown around media these days, but there’s a lot of confusion about what it really means and there are many misconceptions about it. Self-care is not self-indulgence or being selfish – it doesn’t mean splurging on a shopping trip or spending all day at the spa.

Self-care encompasses activities, practices, and habits that reduce the stress and strain on your mind and body and make you feel happy and at peace with yourself. Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce anxiety and depression, improve concentration, reduce stress, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness, improve energy, reduce heart disease, and more.

With so many teens and young adults currently struggling with mental health issues, it makes a lot of sense for the adults in their lives to instill the value of self-care. Creating a habit of taking care of yourself will set teens up for meaningful and successful adulthoods. Here are ways for your teen to take care of themselves:

Schedule Daily Time to Refresh

It’s not easy to set time aside with everything going on in life, but learning to carve a few minutes of self-care into your schedule is necessary. If you never make the time, you will never take care of yourself, so you’re essentially saying that you are your last priority. Set aside 15 minutes every day to do something that refreshes you. It can be any activity that recharges you, but the important part is making it a part of your everyday routine. Ideas include:

  • brisk walk, yoga, or some other form of physical movement,
  • playing with a pet,
  • journaling, drawing, or some other form of creative expression,
  • taking a bath,
  • appreciating nature or spending time outside,
  • meditating or practicing mindfulness or gratitude, and
  • reading or listening to music.


Exercise not only gets you physically fit, but it’s also a natural way to help decrease depression and anxiety. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that help you feel positive. Working out comes in many forms, so it doesn’t have to feel like a chore. You could lift weights, ride a bike, shoot hoops, take a jog or a hike, climb a rock wall, dance, learn martial arts, or play Frisbee with a friend. Simply taking a brisk walk is great exercise – plus it gets you outside!


Sleep deprivation can contribute to mental health issues, and is detrimental to a person’s thinking, as well as their physical and emotional state. Most young people need eight to ten hours of restful sleep to function at their best. It’s not easy fitting this into a schedule filled with academic, social and recreational activities, but it will significantly improve your overall well-being. To improve sleep, teens should:

  • prioritize getting 8-10 hours of sleep every night.
  • establish a consistent bedtime and wakeup schedule.
  • place all electronic devices outside of your bedroom at least 30 minutes before bed.
  • avoid consuming caffeine after 2pm.
  • create a relaxing pre-bed routine.
  • make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet at bedtime.

Eat Quality Foods

Many people are completely unaware of how their diet impacts their overall wellbeing. The foods you choose to eat can affect your health, appearance, mood, and energy level. Avoid processed foods (foods that come in a box or bag and contain more than one item on the list of ingredients). Drink more water and less sugary drinks. Control your portion sizes. Eat foods from all of the different food groups, especially fruits and vegetables. A nutritious diet helps us think clearer, sleep better, have more energy, improve our immune system, have clearer skin, and improve our mental health.

Take a Break from Social Media

Research shows that social media is contributing to anxiety and depression in young people. The information on these platforms is constant, causes us to negatively compare ourselves with others, and can be worrying or stressful. While you might think you need to see every post immediately, in reality, your brain needs a break from the constant input.

Practice Positive Self-Talk

The majority of today’s teenagers are struggling with negative self-talk. Negative self-talk is an inner dialogue you have in your own mind that puts yourself down, focuses on weaknesses and minimizes strengths, limits your confidence, or blocks your ability to reach your potential. If you are hard on yourself, there are ways you can improve your inner monologue. Read our previous blog to learn ideas to silence your inner critic: Fighting Negative Self-Talk.

Final Thoughts…

Self-care techniques are both fundamental for preventing stress before it strikes and for sustaining our equilibrium during hard times. Self-care isn’t a “nice to do when I have time” – it’s essential to your overall health and wellbeing.

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