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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.