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  • Writer's pictureSwarali Asolkar

A Teen’s Guide To Mental Health

Updated: May 5, 2023

When asked how our health is, the focus is generally on the physical aspect of health. But health is defined by both physical and mental well-being, where mental health is overlooked by many. So, there is a need to make people aware of mental health and how to take care of themselves.

Adolescence is a time of many changes, both physical and emotional, which can lead to stress, anxiety, and challenges in managing emotions. However, when provided with proper guidance by our guardians and by learning to manage our mental health and emotions, we can build resilience and live happier, healthier lives. Let’s explore the ways to manage our mental health and emotions.

1. Prioritizing self-care

In our teenage years, understanding what self-care is can be difficult let alone following it in our daily lives. But with enough practice, it can be converted into a habit that can improve our well-being. Self-care is a habit that will benefit in the long run. Teenagers need to prioritize getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly as this is the time our brain is undergoing significant changes. Sleep is especially important, as it allows the brain and body to rest and recharge. One should try and get 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Eating a balanced diet and exercising is a great way to release endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress. Also, trying to get a moderate amount of exercise for 30 minutes will be a good start for the body's physical movements.

In addition to these basics, we can also practice self-care by engaging in activities we enjoy. This could be anything from reading to drawing to playing sports.

2. Building a support system

Having a support system can make a big difference when it comes to managing mental health. While these are the years when we start learning to build connections with the people around us and the tricks of maintaining those relations, it will take time to build a network of supportive friends, family members, and trusted adults but once we have this kind of support it can become easier for us to cope any difficult situation. This can include teachers, coaches, counselors, or therapists. Talking to someone who understands and cares can help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.

3. Managing stress

Stress is a normal part of life, but too much of it can be harmful to mental health. We can learn to manage stress in healthy ways by finding activities that help us relax and unwind. Things like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises help in relaxing and unwinding stress. Other options include reading, taking a walk, or listening to music. The important part is to search for the things which work for us individually and try to make it a routine.

It’s also important to learn how to recognize when we are feeling overwhelmed and take steps to manage stress at the moment. This might mean taking a break, talking to a friend, or doing something creative.

4. Seeking help when needed

Sometimes, managing mental health requires outside help. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges, it’s important to seek professional help. This could mean talking to a school counselor or seeking out a therapist. Mental health professionals can help identify when additional interventions may be necessary.

The bravest thing to do is to ask for help when needed and know that it is a sign of strength.

5. Practicing Positive Self Talk

The way we talk to ourselves can have a big impact on mental health. Negative self-talk can lead to feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. On the other hand, positive self-talk can help build confidence and improve mood. You can practice positive self-talk by challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive and realistic ones. For example, if you’re anxious about a test, try reminding yourself that you’ve studied hard and are prepared for it.

You can also practice positive affirmations. This involves repeating positive statements to oneself, such as “I am capable” or “I am worthy.” It can help build self-confidence and reduce negative self-talk.

It’s also important for us to practice self-compassion. This means treating ourselves with kindness and understanding, especially during difficult times. Rather than beating yourself up over a mistake, recognize that mistakes are a normal part of the learning process and treat yourself with the same kindness and support that you would offer to a friend.

In conclusion, managing mental health and emotions is an important part of overall well-being, especially for teenagers. By prioritizing self-care, building a support system, managing stress, seeking help when needed, and practicing positive self-talk and self-compassion, teenagers can develop skills to manage their mental health and build resilience. Remember, taking care of our mental health is a sign of strength, and seeking help is always an option. By taking care of ourselves, we are setting ourselves up for a happier, healthier life.

Written by: Swarali Asolkar(BA Psychology, SY, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda)

Proofread & edited by: Rubal Prajapati (Counseling Psychologist and Ph.D. Scholar at Bharathiar University)

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