Image via Pixabay
Guest post by Amanda Henderson at Safe Children.
Teen years for children can be pretty intense. The body is growing, they are learning about the world, and there is increased stress from school and family. In October 2017, New York Times Magazine ran an article titled “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?” that explored the various factors that make day-to-day life for teens more difficult. The popularity of electronics and social media act as an unhealthy escape, depriving teens of their chance to develop mental and emotional strength. Parents over-praise and pressure their kids to meet unrealistic expectations. And since there is such a focus on the importance of being happy, kids aren’t learning how to handle normal, negative emotions, and they don’t understand how to confront fear and suffering.
That’s why, now more than ever, teens need to focus on their well-being. Making healthy choices in your teen years can help establish healthy habits that stay with people throughout adulthood. However, these habits can also help teens get through these years with more focus, less anxiety, and a better overall worldview.
Stop Chasing Happiness
Happiness doesn’t come from chasing it, it comes from understanding suffering. If people spend all their time trying to catch happiness, they cannot live in the moment. True happiness doesn’t come from trying to obtain something just out of reach; it comes from reflecting on the things that are causing unhappiness. Such is the thought process behind mindfulness. As a teenager, adults constantly encourage thinking about “the future.” Practicing mindfulness helps teens tune out that pressure in favor of confronting what they are doing and how they are feeling in the moment.
Eat a Diet Full of Whole Foods
Whole foods are the opposite of processed food. They contain less ingredients, are made with less processes, and are much more nutrient dense. Eating a diet with more whole foods and less processed junk throughout the teen years will help train the taste buds to appreciate the variety and flavors. Learning to eat healthy early on will make it easier later, which means it is much less likely that a person develops diet-related health problems.
Plus, teenagers need to eat a diet rich in whole foods for optimal growth, especially neurological development. A healthy diet improves cognitive functions including memory and temperament.
De-Stress the Home
School, work, and their social life are all situations that can be stressful for teens. Making a spot in the home just for them where they can decompress and relax can help relieve some of the pressure. Some tips for de-stressing the home:
- Reduce clutter! Tuck away needed items out of sight and do a cleanup, throwing away or donating things not needed.
- Focus on comfort by adding things like cozy blankets, warm chairs, fluffy pillows, and soft lighting
- Encourage breathing with aromatherapy, a humidifier, or scented candles.
- Create a “tech-free time” where no one uses cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc. Use this time to unwind, read a book, hang with the family pet, or meditate.
Teens are more stressed out than ever and more likely to adopt unhealthy habits that can follow them into adulthood. Making healthy choices early on helps teens deal with these stresses while allowing them to grow into well-adjusted adults. The right mindset has a lot to do with it, and teens should not focus on chasing happiness, but rather attempt to live in the moment and confront their feelings. A healthy diet full of whole foods helps cognitive development and can prevent diet-related illness in the future. Finally, having a space at home where teens can decompress allows a healthy escape from the chaos of their day-to-day lives.