Teach Teens Positive Ways to Increase Energy
Classes, social stress, homework, sports, chores, part-time jobs, after-school activities… teens live busy lives. Does your teen seem to be dragging? Many teens feel tired from their many commitments and look for ways to increase their energy. Some of these ways may be unhealthy. Before your teen gets burnout, it’s a good time to teach your adolescent about how their choices can drain or improve their energy.
Unhealthy Energy Boosts
Sugar. Many teens resort to candy for a quick sugar high when their energy is flagging, but the sugar rush doesn’t last long and usually leads to a crash, leaving them feeling worse than before. It also provides a lot of empty calories which isn’t good for their overall health. To keep their energy level up and steady, advise your teen to eat a snack with a healthy mix of protein, healthy fat, and carbs, such as apples and peanut butter with some trail mix. A well-balanced diet and eating frequently through the day is one of the best ways to establish good energy.
Caffeine and Energy Drinks. Teens love energy drinks because they’re an easy way to get a big boost. Unfortunately, caffeine and energy drinks act similarly to candy – giving them a quick rush of energy only to leave them crashing a little bit later leaving them more tired than before. Caffeine can also leave them dehydrated, which makes them feel sluggish, and caffeine negatively impacts their ability to sleep, which can lead to a vicious cycle of drinking more caffeine because they’re tired from not sleeping well the night before. Teens should limit their daily caffeine intake.
Drugs. Some teens are tempted to abuse prescription stimulants to get a boost of energy. There is a rumor going around schools that Ritalin and Adderall (used to treat ADHD), as well as Xanax (used to treat anxiety), will help students without medical problems to learn quicker, focus better, and provide extra energy to study longer. Many students, stressed out from academic pressure, fall prey to these rumors, hoping these drugs will help them to improve their grades. Teens tend to think these medications are safe to use because they are prescribed by doctors. These are all myths, and absolutely do not work. You can learn more about this problem and what to do about it in one of our previous blogs.
Healthy Ways to Boost Energy
Sleep. Sleep is arguably the most important element to having more energy throughout the day, but unfortunately, only about 15% of high school students get healthy sleep. Without enough quality sleep, teens literally can’t function properly. Getting more sleep improves their mental health and helps them get better grades, be a safer driver, keep off extra pounds, fight illness, have better moods, and yes, have more energy. Please read our previous blog to learn more about how parents can help teens prioritize sleep.
Healthy Eating. Explain to teens that food is literally fuel for their body. To get the best results for their health and their energy levels, they should eat regularly throughout the day – no skipping meals – and eat foods that have a combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. If they skip meals (especially breakfast – even if they don’t think they’re hungry when they wake up, their body’s been fasting for the last 8+ hours) or eat a lot of junk food, they aren’t giving their body the fuel it needs to operate, leaving them feeling fatigued.
Exercise. It might be counterintuitive, but research shows that people feel better and have more energy as soon as they start moving their bodies. Sitting in front of the TV or computer may seem like a good idea when they’re tired, but it’s actually putting their body in “sleep mode” without actually getting a refreshing rest. Regular exercise encourages good sleeping patterns, healthier weight and boosts their body’s energy. Be sure to expand your teen’s definition of exercise – mow the lawn, do a TikTok dance, walk the dog, or play a game of basketball.
Water. Encourage your teen to make water their first choice of beverage for natural energy. Drinking plenty of water helps keep them alert, focused, and moving easily. Even mild dehydration can negatively impact their energy levels and ability to concentrate.
Reduce stress. Stress emotions consume huge amounts of energy. Teens are living with a lot of stress in their lives, and it is making them feel tired. Do whatever it takes to reduce that stress – it could be improving time management skills, preventing overcommitment, scheduling downtime, spending more time with friends, meditating, or doing some other relaxing activity for a few minutes every day.
The best natural energy comes from getting enough rest, being active, eating well, and drinking plenty of water. Role model these strategies for your teen, and talk about the choices you’re making.