Mental wellness is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
World Health Organization
practicing wellness and self care
Discover tools to help you improve your mental wellness.
Mental health is about creating a lifestyle of balance and reducing the impact of long term stress.
Stress is a natural part of life and can be a positive motivation for a person to perform well (a test, a presentation, an athletic event).
Stress can also be negative and debilitating. Stress can be triggered by different life challenges, and what is stressful for one person may not be stressful for another.
It is important to recognize what causes stress for you, especially the negative kind.
What causes you to feel stressed out?
There are many different ways to handle stress:
- Wellness breathing
- Playing an instrument or listening to music
- Writing in a journal
- Creating a piece of art
- Doing physical exercise
- Hanging out with friends
- Talking to a trusted friend/adult
There are 4 important dimensions to wellness: physical, social, mental and spiritual.
- Physical wellness includes health skills such as good nutrition and fitness.
- Good diet, sleep, and exercise
- Take breaks so you can recharge
- Spend less time on digital devices, social media, screens
- Avoid tobacco products and other harmful substances
- Social wellness includes communication skills that help us communicate with others in positive ways.
- Spend time with friends
- Build healthy relationships
- Ask for help when needed
- Set a daily routine
- Try new things
- Mental wellness includes self-awareness and managing emotions.
- Allow yourself to feel your full range of emotions without judgement
- Create dedicated “me” time
- Give yourself daily positive affirmations
- Do things that bring you joy (play, read, sing, doodle, cook, watch a movie)
- Practice gratitude. Find 3 things each day that are good in your life
- Surround yourself with people who lift you up.
- Talk to someone when you need support (a friend, counselor, teacher, therapist)
- Spiritual wellness includes grounding or mindfulness practices.
- Learn to be in the moment
- Create work/school-life balance
- Define your values and live by them
- Set healthy boundaries and clear priorities for yourself
- Get in touch with your inner spirit
- Spend time in nature
- Find purpose and meaning
It is important to make regular physical activity part of your lifestyle. When you are physically healthy, you are better able to cope with teenage challenges.
Short Term Benefits of physical activity:
- Reduces tension, stress, anger, frustration, and mental fatigue
- Increases focus and motivation
- Contributes to feelings of self achievement
- Increases energy
- Creates an outlet to have fun and connect with other teens
Long Term Benefits of physical activity:
- Healthy heart and brain function
- Decreased risk of depression and anxiety
- A positive self image
- Foundation for long term well being
Good nutrition and healthy food is important to maintain mental health.
Things to consider:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily
- Eat a balanced diet
- Cut back on soda, and sugar
- Limit bad fats
- Increase vegetables
We all need to get good sleep to help our brains refresh and recharge.
Teens need 8-10 hours of sleep each night to function at their best.
Suggestions to help with your sleep routine:
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine
- Make your room a restful environment - cool, 66 degrees, dark, quiet
- Include physical activity in your daily routine
- Avoid caffeine after noon (tea/coffee, soda, chocolate)
- Wake up at the same time every day
- Avoid screen time an hour before bedtime
Social media plays an important role in teens’ lives. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey of nearly 750 adolescents between the ages of 13 to 17 found that 45% are online almost constantly and 97% use a social media platform, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.
What are the impacts of social media on teens?
Social Media Benefits
Social Media allows teens to:
- Create online identities
- Communicate with others
- Build social networks
- Use social media for entertainment and self expression
- Access current events
- Interact across geographic barriers
- Learn about a variety of subjects, including healthy behaviors
Social Media Concerns
Social media can negatively affect teens by:
- Distracting them
- Disrupting their sleep
- Exposing them to bullying
- Creating a venue for rumor spreading
- Forming unrealistic views of other people’s lives
- Exposing them to peer pressure
High levels of social media use is linked to worse sleep quality and higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Healthy Ways to Engage with Social Media
- Set reasonable limits, don’t let social media interfere with your activities, sleep, meals or homework.
- Turn your phone off at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep and use the “do not disturb” feature.
- Set a time limit for gaming. Take breaks to go outside. Don’t let gaming replace time spent in person with friends.
- Choose a friend or family member to unplug with and hold each other accountable.
- Know what is appropriate and safe to share on social media.
- It’s not ok to use technology to gossip, spread rumors, bully or damage someone’s reputation online.
- Face-to-face contact with friends and family is important.
Click here to see: Tips for Managing Digital Devices, Social Media, Gaming
Change the conversation.
Try these phrases when engaging in conversation with your teen so that they feel heard.
“Can you tell me more?”
“When did this happen?”
“Let me see if I understand what you said…”
“I can see you are feeling very angry right now.”
- OPEN QUESTIONS
“Why____?” What would you like to see happen?”
“I see it this way___. How do you see it?
“I would like your advice on how we can resolve this.”
“How would you feel if it were you?
“Many people feel the way you do.”
“I can appreciate why you feel that way.”
“I understand that you feel___ when I/she/he____”
“I appreciate your willingness to______”
Supportive friends and family can play an important role in the mental health recovery process. Remember that a person cannot just “snap out of it.”
Be willing to listen.
- DO allow your friend to talk about his or her mental health diagnosis.
- DO NOT give advice or try to make it seem that their concerns are not real or are just a phase.
- DO NOT share your friend's personal information, thoughts or feelings with others, unless your friend intends to hurt himself/herself or others, then call 911!
Don't give up if your friend pulls away.
- People with mental health disorders sometimes withdraw from family and friends. Understand that this may happen because they are scared and that their brain is not working the way it used to. Therefore, it is important to keep trying to spend time with them by hanging out, studying or just talking. Doing this may help them realize that you are there for them and that you care.
Learn as much about mental health disorders and wellness as you can.
- Knowledge is powerful and can help you to know what you might expect from your friend.
Pay it forward!
- Help bust stigma by educating friends and family about mental health disorders.
Your words matter! Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, understanding, and respect, NOT with negative, judgmental, or hurtful words. Think about what you might say. You want to reassure your friend of your support and understanding.
HELPFUL things to say...
- Are you okay?
- I have time to talk.
How can I support you?
I’m sorry that you’re in so much pain.
I wanted to check in with you, you haven’t seemed yourself lately.
You are not alone in this. I am here for you.
Have you thought about getting help?
You are important to me.
I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and I can listen.
It's not your fault.
This must be really difficult for you.
Use person first language: It is better to say…
“My friend has schizophrenia”
than to say, “My friend is schizophrenic.”
HURTFUL things to say...
- It's all in your head.
- What's wrong with you?
- Shouldn't you be better by now?
- Just snap out of it!