Healthy activities are an essential part of self-care. For some people, that means exercising and eating right. For others, self-care is as simple as cuddling a pet or laughing with friends. All that matters is that you make time every day to make your happiness a priority. Here are some tips to jumpstart your self-care routine.
You don’t need a lot—15 or 20 minutes is fine. But make a habit of making time for yourself every single day. The sooner you start the sooner it becomes a habit. And don’t wait until you’re already overwhelmed. Taking a time-out for “me time” prevents stress before it strikes.
Meditation is magical. No, we’re not talking about cheesy hocus-pocus, voodoo, witchy chants. Mindfulness and meditation techniques can *actually* change the way your brain works—for the better! Whether you learn from a professional, use an app or follow online videos, meditation is a simple tool with surprising benefits.
Yoga has been used for better health for thousands of years. And while taking classes is the typical way to get started, you can also practice yoga in your pajamas, from the comfort of your own bedroom. Look online for beginner’s yoga videos and simple routines you can do every day. Don’t worry if you’re “doing it right.” The only thing that matters is that you’re doing it at all.
Exercise is the OG stressbuster. The key is to find something that you *actually* enjoy. Weights? Running? Workout videos? Daily walks? Dancing? Whatever it is, keep it up! You may not notice the benefits while you’re doing it. But your body and your mind will feel better and brighter the rest of the day.
Sleep deprivation is REAL. Because your brain heals and repairs itself while you sleep, getting shut-eye is essential for good mental health. Most teens need eight to nine hours of sleep each night to feel their best. It’s not easy, but making and keeping a consistent sleeping/waking schedule resets your body’s internal clock. The more you stick to it, the better you’ll feel.
Artistic expression is a great way to unwind. When you need a mental break, make something, anything, that gets your creativity flowing. Dance, doodle, draw, scribble, sing, sew, paint, play an instrument—anything works! You don’t need to show it to anyone or win any awards. All that matters is that you find a way to express yourself.
Spa night? Mani-pedi? New hairstyles? Five-step skincare routines? Solo fashion shows in the privacy of your bedroom? Beauty rituals, pampering yourself and playing “dress-up”—for no good reason—can be fun mood-boosters. Whatever you do, don’t get critical. This is your chance to celebrate the reflection in the mirror! Feeling confident on the outside can help you feel better on the inside.
Pets are some of the best friends to have when you’re feeling down. Whether you cuddle, play, go for a walk or throw a ball, your pet will be more than happy to hang out. You can even talk to your dog, cat or iguana when you need to vent your feelings! Your pet won’t tell a soul—and they’ll love you unconditionally, no matter what.
Make time for friendships. Research shows that meeting with friends and talking about your life boosts your well-being. You don’t need to have all the answers—and neither do they—but simply chatting and laughing together is enough. Not in the mood to chat? That’s okay too. Just being in the same room with friends builds connections that help you build resilience.
Need to get out of your head? Get outside! It’s hard to feel sad after walking on a beach, hiking in a park, riding your bike, watching a sunset or playing in the snow. Spending time in nature is an easy way to reset and refresh. Snap photos, if you’d like, but don’t forget to turn off your phone notifications. (More on that in the next point.) Trust us, the view is always better that way.
We get it. Your phone is *basically* a part of your body. It’s your lifeline. Your window to the world. Your connection to friends. But study after study has shown that cutting back on social media and screen time is good for your health. So take time every day to stop scrolling, hide your phone somewhere, and don’t even think about looking at it. Start out with 30 to 60 minutes of phone-free time and gradually work up to longer stretches. You might feel anxious at first. But the more you do it, the easier it will get.
Our brains are literally wired for acts of kindness. And studies of brain chemistry show that giving to others is much more rewarding than receiving. You can go big—by serving as a volunteer or organizing a charity event. Or you can start small—by doing chores without being asked, helping younger siblings or doing a favor for a friend. Whether big or small, making an impact in someone else’s life is a great way to boost your confidence—and your mood.
If you or someone you know is living with a mental health issue or an addiction, take the first step toward getting help.
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