I sometimes feel that all I hear about is what I’m not doing – meditation, practising mindfulness, keeping a gratitude journal, and a million and one other things I should be making time for but don’t. It’s all a bit too woo-woo and not a realistic part of everyday life for many of us.
And the phrase “self-care” is everywhere these days. So, is it something else that’s just fashionable right now but not for everyone?
Well, no. When you bring it back to basics, self-care is just good, healthy, regular habits that really make life better.
So, what exactly is self-care?
The dictionary definition is “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
Definitely something we should all be doing! And especially teens, who are living turbulent lives and dealing with constant change just through the process of growing up. The rapidly-changing teenage brain can really benefit from self-care routines, which can act as an anchor for teens as they navigate adolescence. These habits can help grow stability and resiliency, as well as minimising stress.
Teenage self care can also mean being consciously lazy for a time, or being extra productive with the things that are stressing them out.
Like everything, it takes effort and organisation. It’s important to find time and make self-care part of a daily routine. Help your teen give it some thought and encourage them to build some practices in every day, plus allow some extra time every so often, maybe weekly, to regularly tick a few other habits off a list.
So, forget all the hype and the TikTok trends, and have a chat to your teens about what self-care means to them. If you want to make some suggestions, here are 10 of the best self-care habits for teens:
Daily self-care habits
Yes, I know. Not exactly original. But it’s the top tip for a reason – it really works. Natural light and fresh air make a huge impact on your mood. And being active – in a way you enjoy – is so important for a healthy, happy life.
We’ve been recommending yoga for teens since lockdown – it can go down surprisingly well with them. And it’s just brilliant for relaxation and feeling great about yourself. We usually recommend Yoga with Adriene; as this is a course specifically aimed at teens.
Get enough sleep
Absolutely vital. There’s really nothing more important and the better their sleep habits are, the better they’ll feel.
Take some time away from screens
Let’s be honest, it’s not easy, for any of us. But a set amount of time away from all screens on a daily basis really does quiet the mind and help put everything into perspective. Lead by example and see for yourself!
Spend quality time with friends and family
Of course, teens see friends and family at school and at home all the time. But taking a few minutes to chat quietly about something specific, or do a particular activity together – whether it’s cooking a meal, or going for a walk, or watching a new series on TV – rather than just co-existing, makes a big difference.
And pets count too – in fact, they’re especially beneficial!
Do something that makes you feel good about yourself
Ask them what pops into their mind when you suggest this. Whatever it is, it’s what they should spend a bit of time doing every day. It might be a workout, reading, baking, gaming… it’s important to make time for the happy stuff.
Regular self-care habits
Do something you’ve been putting off for a while
We all know and love the procrastination memes, about how something we’ve put off for six months only takes five minutes. Teenagers can be the worst at this, as ‘life admin’ seems very overwhelming to the most organised of teens.
If it’s a regular self-care habit to get these things done, they’ll get it off their minds, free up brain space, and feel great. And it’s a great lesson early in life that the “just do it now” advice really works!
Try something you’ve never done before
New experiences are great – exciting, challenging and often great fun. They make us feel amazing. So a list of new places to go and activities to try, maybe one a month, is a real life-enhancer. Depending on confidence levels, these can be small things or major goals; both are equally fine.
It can also be just as rewarding to rediscover a hobby or something they used to love. They’ll be older and can apply new skills or give it a new spin.
Make a schedule
This is one for when life feels a bit stressful or out of control. A to-do list and a schedule to aim for is something that helps everyone feel on top of life.
Do something for someone else
Something else we regularly recommend. It’s scientifically proven to increase happiness and helps take a teen out of their own life, just for a while.
Write a letter to yourself
OK, this might not be a regular habit, but setting your ideas and goals down on paper every so often is a great way of remembering what you like about yourself and what you can achieve when you try. Encourage your teen to list their good qualities and achievements, as well as their hopes and dreams.
If they have no idea where to start, have a look at our Postcards to my Future Self. It’s a set of postcards with carefully designed prompts to make it easy and fun for teens to write about their life.
That’s our rundown of 10 of the best self-care habits for teens. We hope they’ve given you food for thought.
If you need more ideas, or want a fun way to start the conversation with your teens, have a look at this light-hearted but weirdly inspirational Guardian article on 100 ways to improve your life without really trying.
A little bit about Equipp
I’m Anna, mum to 3 young adults. I set up Equipp with my late business partner Louise (mum to 2) and now work with her husband and daughter. Our mission is to help spread happiness and positivity amongst today’s amazing young people. We believe it’s vital that every teenager is given confidence to believe in themselves. Telling them how wonderful they are and putting a daily smile on their faces via the cards and gifts they receive from Equipp is integral to everything we design and produce. Have a browse around our collections of birthday and teenage milestone gifts and please do get in touch if you have any questions or would like any recommendation.
We love to celebrate teenagers in every way, and are building a community of parents who feel the same. We hope you enjoy reading our blog posts and we’d love it if you came and joined us on Instagram or Facebook to chat about parenting teens.
Oh, and we’re raising money for a fantastic teenage suicide prevention charity, Hector’s House, with a donation from every purchase from Equipp.