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11 Self-Care Tips for Teens and Young Adults

self-care tips for teens and young adults

STRESS – Teens and young adults today are more stressed, anxious, depressed, and lonely than ever – at least in the United States. At first glance, it’s hard to wrap your head around this fact. This post covers self-care tips for teens and young adults in stress.

No one really knows the root cause, but it seems to be a perfect storm of several factors. While many experts have pointed to digital and social media, the data just don’t support this as the sole or even most important source of the problem. 

stress is caused by being here but wanting to be there
11 Self-Care Tips for Teens and Young Adults

Additional forces plaguing Gen Z and college-age Millennials include worries about their future, from climate change to economic and job uncertainty; concerns about image; academic pressures to meet or exceed perfection; and being over-scheduled with demands to “do it all” – school, community service, sports, arts, family, and religious activities, etc. Others are lured by the endless array of compelling on-demand TV series to binge-watch, or video games to play – often alone.

Children Who Grow Up in Stressful Environments Tend To Overthink
11 Self-Care Tips for Teens and Young Adults

Gen Z and Millennials are also becoming more aware of mental health challenges, particularly their own anxiety and depression. And, most scary is that depression and suicide are on the rise and have reached an all-time high.

I don’t intend here to propose any grand solutions to these problems. But given the situation, let’s consider how young folks can take care of themselves and cope with the many stresses they face.

Here are some things that can be included in a toolbox to promote well-being. Many of these are in the Clay Center Videos on Middle School, High School, and College Self-Care .

Here are 11 tools for Self-Care for teens and young adults:

1. Carve Out Time. 

This is the basic pre-requisite for just about all the ways to take of yourself. You need time, and it has to be part of a daily routine. It’s not always easy to set time aside with everything going on in life, but learning to carve it into your schedule is necessary. If you start now, it will become a habit. Many of the activities below don’t require a lot of time – some only take up 15-20 minutes in your day. It’s the regularity that counts.

Read What’s Your Coping Style? How to Manage Stress the Right Way

2. Meditation. 

This is one of the best self-care activities. We’ve come a long way from meditation being considered hocus pocus. Mindful meditation has proven to change the structure and function of the brain, and it’s a fabulous way to promote relaxation while reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. It can be learned in person with an expert, or online (there are plenty of YouTube instructional videos or smartphone apps). This is something you can do anytime in any place, whenever you need it!

Meditation as self-care practice can change the brain’s structure in just 8 weeks
11 Self-Care Tips for Teens and Young Adults

Read Mindfulness Meditation For Panic Disorder Relief

3. Yoga. 

Yoga and other types of Eastern methods of self-care activity involve stretching, improving flexibility, connecting mind and body – all of which are helpful for stress reduction and wellness, and have been used extensively for thousands of years. The best way to learn Yoga is through a studio, but you can also do so from videos online.

Read The Ultimate Guide to the Best Types of Yoga Poses

4. Exercise. 

Working out comes in many forms. There’s training for strength, endurance, and aerobic activity (getting your heart beat up). But simply walking 2 miles a day is great self-care exercise – plus it gets you outside! Exercise not only gets you physically fit, but it’s a natural way to help decrease depression and anxiety.

5. Get Some Sleep. 

Don’t Skip on sleep. Sleep is more important than homework.
11 Self-Care Tips for Teens and Young Adults

Easier said than done, but sleep deprivation is detrimental to a person’s thinking, and their physical and emotional state. Most young people need eight to nine 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 sure has a big payoff.

Read 13 Terrifying Health Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Try to have as regular a sleep schedule as possible, and you’ll generally find that your “biological clock” will remember when to fall asleep and wake up.

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Eugene V. Beresin

Eugene V. Beresin, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He received a M.A. in Philosophy and M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He is Executive Director of the MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds. He is Director of the Elizabeth Thatcher Acampora Endowment, an outreach program to meet the needs of under-served youth and families in three community settings. Beresin is Director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at The Massachusetts General Hospital. He was Director of Child and Adolescent Residency Training at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital from 1985-2013. He served as President of the New England Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and President of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training. He also served as Editor-in-Chief of the Psychiatry Residents in Training Examination (PRITE). He was elected as a Counselor-at-Large of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He was elected to the Board of Regents of the American College of Psychiatrists. He is director of the year-long required third-year course, The Developing Physician: Lifelong Integration of Personal and Professional Growth with Sensitive, Compassionate Care, at Harvard Medical School that focuses on reflective practice, ethics, professionalism and interpersonal skills as the students take their core clerkships and develop their identities as physicians. Beresin is Deputy Editor and Media Editor for Academic Psychiatry. He has won a number of local and national teaching awards, including the Parker J. Palmer "Courage to Teach" Award in 2002, given annually by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education to 10 Program Directors from all medical specialties. In 2004, he was awarded the American Psychiatric Association and National Institute of Mental Health Vestermark Award for Outstanding Teaching. In 2008 he was awarded the Bowis Award by the American College of Psychiatrists for outstanding service to and leadership in the College. In 2010 he was appointed a scholar in the Academy at Harvard Medical School. In 2010 he was awarded the Excellence in Reviewing Award by Academic Medicine given to 14 794 reviewers for the Journal. In 2011, Beresin was awarded the Cynthia N. Kettyle Award for Medical Student Teaching by the Departments of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. Beresin has consulted to a variety of television shows including ER and Law and Order SVU. He was Consultant to the Emmy Award winning HBO children's specials, Goodnight Moon and Other Sleepytime Tales (2000), Through a Child's Eyes: September 11, 2001 (2003) and Classical Baby (2005). He co-produced a Parenting Resource website for abcnews.com. Beresin has published numerous papers and chapters on a variety of topics including graduate medical education, mental health and media, eating disorders, personality disorders, and child and adolescent psychiatric treatments.View Author posts