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Self-care is defined as “the ability to care for oneself through awareness, self-control, and self-reliance in order to achieve, maintain, or promote optimal health and well-being.” Self-care practices involve both nurturing one’s physical and mental health, which can be accomplished in many ways. Self-care encompasses activities, practices, and habits intended to reduce mental and physical stress and strain while simultaneously fostering feelings of inner peace and happiness. Mental Health America explains that “Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. Additionally, good friends and encouraging words from adults are all important for helping children develop self-confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life.” Adolescent mental health is intertwined and often informed by behavioral health. While one’s mental health encompasses several factors (e.g., one’s biology, one’s psychological condition, and one’s habits) behavioral health examines how one’s habits impact one’s overall physical and mental wellbeing. A significant amount of empirical evidence substantiates the importance of self-care for child and adolescent mental health. 

Teaching Kids To Take Care Of Their Mental Health

Good behavioral health means engaging in behaviors that help to achieve an ideal mental and physical balance. Self-care is essential for children as these practices help to cultivate and nurture positive adolescent mental health. The University of Michigan offers suggestions to gently introduce and teach your child simple strategies for taking care of their mental health; consider encouraging the following: 

  • Be kind to yourself: Avoid self-criticism, treat yourself with respect, and make time for yourself to engage in activities that bring you joy.
  • Take care of your body: Practice healthy habits and taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. Make sure to:
    • Eat nutritious meals.
    • Avoid smoking, alcohol, and other drugs.
    • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
    • Get enough sleep.
    • Exercise regularly.
  • Stay social: People that maintain social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. 
  • Try changing your routine: While routines often make us feel a sense of security and safety, breaking up the monotony with a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule.
  • Learn how to deal with stress: Try out different stress reducing tactics and arm yourself with different coping mechanisms to help mitigate stress.
  • Laugh at the funny things: Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body, and reduce stress.
  • Practice mindfulness: Try different relaxation exercises to quiet your mind, like yoga or meditation. Research has found that meditation can help lower blood pressure, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve insomnia, and more. 

There is a plethora of benefits to prioritizing behavioral health by engaging in self-care. Developing and integrating self-care practices as a child can lay the foundation for continuing healthy habits into adulthood.

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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