Everybody thinks that the teen years are these careless, fleeting years where kids run around without a care in the world...but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Teenagers in both high school and college are busier than ever: school, part-time work, driving younger siblings or elder parents, extracurricular activities, social activities, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, college applications, job applications...it's a lot! And in the years ahead, it might only get worse with full-time jobs, kids, and bigger financial responsibilities. In these teen years, it's important that you take time to really do what matters the most to you, and learn whose opinions really matter. Learn how to weed out the drama from your life and only surround yourself with people and activities that nurture you, help you become your best self, and lift you up instead of putting you down. But the whole self-care and self-love thing can be confusing, right?
Self-care is very simple. Stand up for yourself, make time for yourself, and do the things that make you happy. Here are four simple ways to do it:
1. Unplug and Unfollow as Needed
Social media can be great - it can help us connect with people, but it can also trap us in a constant web of comparison and make us feel bad about our lives because everybody else's lives seem perfect on social media. Guess what? People only post the good parts! Behind every gorgeous picture you see on social media, there may be dozens of flawed tries. If the accounts and the people you follow on social media are making you feel sad, depressed, anxious about your life, your income, or your figure, hit unfollow. Good vibes only.
On that same note, try to use your phone less. Sleep with your phone in another room, and get a good old alarm clock (they're pretty cheap). That way you're not tempted to play on it for an hour when you're supposed to be sleeping. Go to a concert or visit a friend without taking your phone with you, and notice how different your time is - you'll probably feel less anxious and not even remember you didn't have it. Live your life without the filter of your phone.
2. Get enough sleep
Make sure you're getting the rest you need and going to sleep at a reasonable time to be at your best energy levels every day. Pulling all-nighters constantly will only wear you out and reduce your immunological response, making you more prone to sickness. Starting a nighttime routine is a great way to also practice self-care: a hot bath, a fun book, a delicious-smelling candle, soft pajamas...you'll be ready to sleep soundly in no time.
3. Enjoy your hobbies!
Do you love knitting? Scrapbooking? Playing basketball? Love to trade Pokemon cards? Enjoy it! Spend some time with your hobbies - it's good for your mental health! When we are engaged in activities we enjoy, our heart rates lower and our mood improves. And if you're tired of your old hobbies, try a new one! Follow a YouTube tutorial for unicorn makeup if you love makeup. Find a video for your favorite recipe, and cook a meal for your tired mom. Your hobbies could also be a good opportunity to do something nice for others, like knitting gloves for kids in a shelter, for example.
There are lots of ways in which you can put your thoughts on paper and out of your head to get some inner peace or simply record what you're thinking and feeling at that moment in time. You can use an app like Day One to record voice notes, written notes, or pictures. You can access your creative side and doodle on a notebook, with accompanying thoughts. You can write letters to your future self, or just write down how you're feeling. Journaling is a great way to put our thoughts into perspective and reduce the power that sometimes our thoughts have over us.
However you practice self-care, don't wait until your midlife crisis to do it. Take care of yourself now.