5 Basic Self-Care Tips for Teens
We know that there are many advantages to being a teen these days: you’re super connected to the world, you have a million ways to keep yourself entertained with just your phone, there’s tons of high-quality entertainment for you to stream at any time, and you and your peers are some of the biggest social advocates in history.
We know, too, that it’s not all fun and games. Being a teen these days can be challenging. At times, it may even feel like the stress gets overwhelming. On top of pandemics and ever-higher standards for getting into college, high school can take a toll on your mental and physical health.
Teen entrepreneurs are the future of business. In fact, teens in general are the future, full stop. While many self-care tips require amounts of time and energy you don’t have (and therefore undo the whole point of self-care), we have 5 easy tips you can try today.
Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. Don’t think of it as an indulgence. Learning how to take good care of yourself is a vital part of growing up.
1. PERFECTION DOES NOT EXIST
If it did, don’t you think there would be more “perfect” people in the world?
By definition, no one can give 110%. You can’t do more than your best. At some point, you can’t study anymore for a test because your brain can’t absorb new information anymore. Studying isn’t the only thing you need to do to pass a test. You need a good night’s sleep and a nutritional breakfast. You need self-confidence and focus. And you won’t get those things by staying up all night stressing.
Everyone in this world has natural talents and abilities. Stop comparing yourself to others. Your best friend might breeze through AP Calculus while you struggle through basic algebra 2. But we guarantee your friend isn’t as good at, say, writing essays on ancient history as you are.
Understand, too, that everyone has bad days now and then. Don’t let a single bad day (or rough morning or stressful evening) make you think you’re somehow falling behind. Even people who seem like they always have it together have bad days. Don’t compare your “behind the scenes” with someone else’s “highlight reel.”
2. BE GENTLE WHEN SPEAKING TO YOURSELF
It’s easy to let other people’s negative talk get stuck in your head and grind you down. That’s called “negativity bias,” and it’s a real thing that all humans cope with. Just look at the news on any given day. How many negative stories do you see compared to positive stories?
This is why it’s so important that your inner voice be gentle. There’s enough negativity around you. Instead of beating yourself up because you made a mistake, tell yourself that this was a normal human thing to do. You’ll try to do better next time. Try to replace negative self-talk with gentleness:
- Instead of, “That was so stupid of me,” try, “Oopsie! Mistakes happen!”
- Instead of, “Everyone here hates me,” try, “Everyone here must be as nervous as I am.”
- Instead of, “I’ll never get this right,” try, “I’m going to keep trying, and if I really can’t get it, I’ll ask for help.”
- Instead of, “I’m the worst,” try, “Here are 3 things I know I’m good at.”
3. FIND A CREATIVE OUTLET
Not everyone is creative in the same way. Thank goodness, too, or imagine how boring the world would be! But creatively expressing yourself is wonderful for self-care.
You might already be good at a creative pursuit, like painting or playing music. This doesn’t mean you have to express yourself that way. Trying something new can be a great way to boost your mood and reboot your mind! Maybe you’re a writer. Try working with your hands for a change, like digging into a mound of clay. Don’t worry about getting it “right.” Instead, tell yourself that this is just for fun. You’re just trying it! You don’t need to show your sculpture to anyone else.
4. HAVE AT LEAST 1 OR 2 TRUE FRIENDS
How do your friends make you feel? After spending time with them, do you feel good about yourself? Are you happy, energized, and fulfilled? If not, it might be time to find new friends. Toxic relationships aren’t good for anyone. Is someone truly your friend if they always find ways to make you feel bad? If you’re constantly apologizing for things you’re not sure you did wrong? If they’re constantly trying to make you jealous?
Remember, true friends love you and want you to be happy. They don’t put you down, talk you into doing things you don’t feel comfortable doing, and they don’t let a simple difference of opinion turn into a heated argument. Positive friendship is a give and take. There are no threats or mind games.
5. GET OFF THE SCREEN
Going online is necessary for life these days. You probably work and play online. You probably socialize online. You make plans and learn about the world online. And we’d never tell you to stop going online.
Instead, look for times in your day when you’re mindlessly scrolling yet still bored. Be mindful of engaging in drama or letting others get the better of you. Stop comparing yourself to professional influencers.
Once in a while, put down the phone. Play a game with your family. Cook a wholesome meal for yourself. Go for a walk. Read a physical book. Listen to music without staring at a screen. Organize your room. There are a million things you can do that don’t require you to be online. It’s one of the simplest forms of self-care out there and helps you avoid anxiety, stress, and depression.
The 5 tips we’ve listed here are all free, simple, and can truly help you feel better. Go ahead and try just one thing right now. After a while, these things will become habits. When that happens, you’ll find yourself enjoying more “good” days and fewer “bad” ones.
The Kantner Foundation awards college scholarships to young entrepreneurs in Florida. Click here to learn more and apply.