The first blush of the new school year has worn off and stress starts to build up. Is your teenager ready to handle the stress of school deadlines, full schedules and evenings loaded with activities? Even as adults we can find ourselves overwhelmed and often unaware of the toll stress is taking in our life. We need to be ready by keeping a daily self-care routine. And as parents we need to teach our youth how to develop self-care activities into their life. Here are some self-care activities for youth to try out and build into their self-care routine.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is being aware of and attending to one’s own needs.
Self-care is recognizing that we have spiritual, mental, emotional and physical needs as humans, and we need to be responsible in taking action to care for ourselves.
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More simply put, we need to check in with ourselves and provide those routines that help us to function at our best!
Self-care done well is not selfish. We all have responsibilities and jobs we are required to do. But in order to do our jobs we have to be working well. And in order to keep plowing along we have to take care of ourselves!!
Our teens need to work hard at school, be able to concentrate in class and at home, and recall what they have learned. Adolescents may have activities after school where they are challenging themselves physically and mentally. High school students may have part-time jobs where they learn and perform various tasks. At home, teenagers have chores and may need to care for little siblings.
So self-care, caring for ourselves is vital to a healthy life!
Self-Care Activities for Youth
Now that we have talked about what self-care is, let’s look at some concrete self-care activities for youth! Here are 25 self-care tips for teens!
- Share your troubles with a parent or mentor such as a teacher, youth pastor or coach.
2. Get enough sleep at night by having a consistent bed-time.
3. Give yourself social media breaks where you don’t look at any social media for an hour or afternoon.
4. Making a list of everything you have to do and identify what needs to be done next.
5. Spend time with those friends that are truly encouraging of you, face to face or on the phone.
5. Release relationships that make you feel drained or that you aren’t good enough.
6. Be careful how you talk about yourself and drop those overly negative statements.
7. Make a list of all the things you LOVE! And then develop a few hobbies that truly fill you back up.
8. Make time to eat breakfast to get your metabolism going and care for your body.
9. Limit the amount of sugar you eat. Set simple guidelines like no more than 3 pops/ soft drinks a week.
10. Pay attention in class. You are already there so use the time wisely by listening and taking notes.
11. Be aware of your own ups and downs, and create a plan to balance your low times.
12. Read a good book. Ask your librarian for help or your friends for recommendations.
13. Start a side business. Learn and bring in money by creating a micro-business.
15. Get physical. Walk with a friend or parent. Join a school sport or have fun on an intramural team.
16. Say no to things you truly don’t want to do such as a school activity you only joined cause your friend asked.
17. Manage your chores. Don’t wait for tension and parental nagging. Decide what time works best and get it done!
18. Schedule your time off. Be deliberate to schedule “off time” where you can really relax and not feel guilty.
19. Go through your closet, room and locker twice a year to remove broken, old or no longer needed items.
20. Add 10 minutes of something relaxing or encouraging to your morning routine.
21. Set specific and measurable goals for yourself. Break them into areas such as school, summer or personal goals.
22. Reflect on something you are thankful for or a task you did well.
23. Join or get involved in a local church. Church can be a great place to find imperfect people who are trying to become a little better.
24. Pray or meditate. Recognize that you can only control so much of life.
25. Get creative and playful. Even though you are older doesn’t mean you don’t still need to play in your life. Make a craft, bake or take your little sibling or niece (or nephew) to the park.
More Self-Care Ideas for Adolescents
Recognize that self-care for youth needs to address a teenager’s mental, spiritual, physical and emotional needs. Help your teenagers recognize that self-care is more than just caring for the outside but also for their mind and soul. Try out these self-care activities for youth!
Physical Self-Care Ideas for Teenagers
- Soak in a hot tub.
- Update your look seasonally with a few new clothing pieces or a hair cut.
- Have a bed-time routine that helps you to start relaxing a half an hour before lights out.
- Make sure to wash your face in the evening and morning with a simple face cleaner (like Cetaphil).
- Get creative with a new make-up style if you wear make-up.
- Clean out your closet of things that don’t fit or make you feel blah when you wear them.
- Drink lots of water.
- Make sure to get enough Vitamin D by being outside in the sun a little each day.
- Practice waiting before you treat yourself to develop a habit of thinking through your food choices.
Mental Self-Care Activities for Youth
- Start to recognize what things make you feel anxious, depressed or angry. Are there things you can do differently to balance these interactions. Should you avoid social media first thing in the morning? Do you need to be by yourself for an hour after coming home from school? Are there certain relationships that cause you to feel yuck that you need to release? Do you need to plan something a little “fun” each week like hanging out with a friend?
- Create a de-stress plan that works well for you. Do you like to write or journal about your feelings? Does it help to talk aloud to a friend? Do you need to get outside and do something physical?
- Tell your parent or mentor if you start having more and more negative thoughts. Sometimes we need a little help. And that is OK. You may find it helpful to go to talk to a counselor who can help you work through your negative feelings.
Positive Affirmations for Teenagers
The messages we internally repeat to ourselves over and over are VERY powerful! Be aware of what you are telling yourself and make sure to replace the negatives messages with positive affirmations!
- I am unique and the world needs my gifts!
- I am smart in ways that even I have yet to discover!
- I can overcome my mistakes and learn from them!
- I am worthy of love because I am a person not because of how I look or perform.
- I don’t have to compare myself against others to know if I’m valuable.
- I may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there are many for who I am a perfect match!
- I will be just the person someone needs to hear from or see today!
- I have already accomplished some wonderful things in my life.
- If I feel overwhelmed by fear, anxiety or depression today, that’s Ok, because tomorrow is a new day!
- I am created by God and He has a purpose for my life!
Emotional Self-Care Ideas
Our teenagers are their own unique person with their own likes, needs and dislikes. Teach your teenagers to value themselves and care for their emotional needs. This starts with us valuing them…even when we don’t always get what they are going through. Encourage them to try out some of these emotional self-care tips!
- Practice sharing how you are feeling with those who you feel safe.
- Learn to trust your instincts in relationships. If something feels off, it probably is.
- Give yourself room to feel sad, angry, jealous or anxious. Examine why you feel this way. Think about what is reality and truth and what is mainly your fear speaking.
- Think about what brings you joy. Can you incorporate more of this into your life?
- Train yourself to be careful how you talk to those you love so that you don’t cause unnecessary pain by unkind words.
- Be aware of what you grab to comfort yourself (food, shopping, netflix, scrolling social media, porn, gossiping, etc…) and replace it with something more positive that will actually refuel you!
Self-Care Activities Worksheets for Teens and Tweens
We can help our teenagers create a self-care routine by practicing a little self-care each day. And we should experiment with different types of self-care. So I created a self-care activities worksheet so that teens can get used to thinking of self-care and how best to care for themselves.
Here are 20 days of self-care ideas to do on this easy PRINTABLE SELF-CARE CALENDAR FOR TEENS.
Simply go to the Resource Library, enter the password and print off as many copies of the self-care calendar as you need for your tweens and teens. The calendar can print as a poster or if you just want to print as a 8 1/2 by 11, then just choose “print to fit” on your printer setting!
If you are not a member of The Reluctant Cowgirl family go here to drop your email and receive the password to the Resource Library sent right to your inbox! Simple and immediate access! Or Simply click on the graphic above!