That adolescence is a difficult and extremely delicate period of everyone’s life is not new information. Each of us has experienced these turbulent years and might have kids going through their teenage years. However, as adults, we often tend to downplay what our kids are going through during this time of their lives, often labeling it as “just a phase.” However, often it is much more than that. International studies tell us that an estimated 10-20% of teens worldwide struggle with mental health issues.
Luckily, there is a lot you can do to help your teenagers thrive through the important years and life experiences ahead – especially in this delicate and unprecedented post-pandemic world. Start with the tips below.
Practicing mindful exercises can truly help your teen’s mental well-being – and they have a lot of physical benefits too! However, everyone is unique, and not everyone is the sporty type. So, it is all about choosing the right mindful activity. Of course, yoga is the first discipline that comes to mind, but there are many other options, including Tai Chi, Pilates, or even Nordic Walking. Aside from calming and centering the mind, these activities can also help your kids hone their flexibility, coordination, balance, and range of movement.
Meditation is beneficial for everyone, no matter your age or the experiences you are going through. Studies have shown that as little as 10 minutes a day of meditation can reshape some important pathways in the brain, thus changing how we relate to the world around us. If your children are struggling with body image or having difficulties finding a community of friends to rely on, meditation can help.
Reading is an all-time favorite activity for kids. Today, there is no need to spend a lot of money at the bookstore or to remember to give back library books. eReaders are affordable, easy to use, and give access to your kids to all the books they might wish to buy. And, if you find that they are mainly interested in YA fantasy and thriller books, don’t try to change it – children are reading less and less, and any book can help them hone their imagination, social skills, and writing abilities.
Spending Time in Nature
Spending time in nature is essential for all teenagers – even if it is not always one of their priorities. In fact, it is easy for young adults to resort to gaming, playing video games, or surfing the Internet. Nonetheless, if you wish to look after their mental and emotional health, you should encourage them to take a walk in a park, woodland, or beach. Of course, not alone – some options include joining a Scouting organization or taking a camping trip together.
Breathing exercises are no different from any other type of exercise: to see benefits, you need to practice. However, just learning how to use the breath to calm the mind and improve focus can yield immediate results. If your teen has started to practice yoga, the chances are that they are already familiar with the importance of focusing on and controlling inhales and exhales. Encourage them to use documentaries and tutorials to make this skill part of their life toolbox.
Eating disorders are increasingly common and can affect people in any age group. However, they are far more common among young adults and teenagers. During this time of life, the body is changing and some of these changes happen outside of our control.
Because of all this, it is essential for your little one to establish a healthy and balanced relationship with food. Mindful eating can teach them how to listen to their bodies and what foods can help them nourish them. Of course, you should always consult an expert nutritionist before creating a diet plan for your teenager – but you could start by helping them understand that plant-based, whole foods act as sustainable fuel for the body.
Practicing sports is vital for any young adult. Firstly, moving the body increases the heart rate, thus improving circulation, digestion, and metabolism. Additionally, as the heart rate increases, the body releases endorphins – a chemical also called the “happy hormone.”
Another important benefit of encouraging your teenagers to take part in sports is that these activities teach them to respect others, work in a team, and build friendships. Remember: winning and losing are both parts of the game!
No matter how old your little ones are, getting started on a gardening project with your kids is always a great idea! Gardening has many benefits for the body and mind. Firstly, gardening allows teenagers to spend time outdoors and in nature. This can help them regulate their mood, increase energy and focus levels, and fight depression, stress, and anxiety. However, being outdoors and getting their hands dirty with soil is also essential to building a strong immune system, strengthening bone structure, and receiving necessary vitamins, such as Vitamin D (or the sunshine vitamin).
Volunteering is not always something that teenagers like to do, but it can be extremely important in their formation and growth. If you are encouraging them to donate some of their time to a cause, make sure they research the different associations and causes by themselves. For example, some might fight for animal rights, join feminist or anti-racism movements, help our environmental and ethical projects such as Fridays For Future and Sea Shepherd, or prepare meals for those who can’t afford it. Whatever their passion is, make sure to help them make an impact. After all, they are going to be the ones living on Earth in the future; it is only right that they help shape the place they want to live in!
Coloring is not just an activity for kids! By spending time coloring teen and adult coloring books, your children can hone their patience, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and mindfulness. Studies have even found that activities such as coloring can relieve stress, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and regulate mood. If you are interested in this activity, all you have to do is pick your favorite coloring kit. Make sure you are investing in an age-appropriate coloring book and you have all the colors and pencils needed for an uninterrupted experience. Happy coloring!
There are many mental health activities for teenagers that you can encourage them to do. Whether they are struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression, these activities can help them cope in a more holistic and healthy way. Additionally, these activities will allow your teenager to build character, practice teamwork, and make new friends. So what are you waiting for? Start exploring today!