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Small Changes That Can Boost Your Teen’s Mental Health

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Growing up can be challenging for many teenagers. As they transition into adulthood and develop their identity, they’re experiencing many different emotions and changes in behavior. If they’re not adequately supported, these feelings and changes in habits could affect their mental health.

As a parent, you must recognize when teens struggle with their mental health, feel depressed, or experience other negative emotions. If you notice this, you can make little changes around the home to boost their mental health. Here are some ideas to consider.

Recognize Signs of Poor Mental Health

While most parents are concerned about the physical health of their children, they don’t always think about their mental health. However, it’s crucial to recognize when your teen may be upset or have negative thoughts. Some obvious signs may be a drop in school performance, a loss of appetite, or trouble sleeping.

However, some signs may be more subtle and may include:

  • Avoiding friends
  • Acting more aggressively than usual
  • Significant tiredness
  • Changes in appetite

You may not know your teen needs a boost to mental health, so it is best to tweak the daily routine around the house. Start by not being too hard on your teen regarding school and accomplishments. Teens should complete their homework, but you can also allow them to have breaks to watch a favorite TV show or read a book for pleasure. These mental breaks can do wonders.

Sometimes all teens need is some structure during their week. Parents can set up leisurely activities like cooking dinner as a family or having a game night every Saturday. This structure can break up the week and give your teen something to look forward to instead of the same routine of school, sleep, and repeat.

Establish Healthy Routines

In addition to spending time as a family, parents can encourage their teens to establish healthy routines throughout the day to improve mental health. Start by prioritizing exercise in the morning. Lifting weights, running on the treadmill, or walking through the park or around the block can provide teens with natural energy, improve their mood, and even reduce the symptoms of depression. Also, they will be in better physical shape, which can boost their self-esteem.

Encourage your kids to eat a healthy lunch at school and discourage them from eating fast food. The trans fats in those meals can make them feel sluggish and moody. However, nutrient-rich foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, perk them up for improved focus and concentration.

At night, the right bedtime routine is key. Lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems, including heart issues and diabetes. When you sleep, your body repairs your immune system from the day’s stresses. Seven to nine hours of sleep is necessary to wake up feeling mentally refreshed. If your teen has trouble falling asleep or goes to bed later, then a tweak to the routine is crucial.

Start by suggesting avoidance of late snacks since food before bed can cause digestive issues throughout the night and disrupt sleep. Writing in a journal is another positive pre-sleep routine because it can help teens get out the frustrations from the day so they can rest easy. Finally, consider healthy supplements, such as melatonin, which helps restore circadian rhythms for better sleep.

Mental Health and Screen Time

While we mentioned the importance of allowing teens to take breaks from homework and responsibilities, parents must ensure they enjoy their pastimes and hobbies responsibly.

For instance, many teens like to binge-watch TV shows back to back. However, too much screen time can cause physical and mental stress. Studies show ties to depression from too much screen time. Parents can prevent the adverse side effects by setting limits on screen time. Give your teens a specific timeframe for when they can watch TV. You can also set guidelines by making it a rule that your kids must get up between each show and engage in physical activity by taking a walk or cleaning up their rooms.

Many teens enjoy video games, which should be played in moderation. An obsession with video games can cause teens to neglect other parts of their lives, such as social relationships. While they may be playing with friends online, that is different from going out and meeting with people face to face. If your teens take their video games too seriously, they could get upset if they can’t beat a high score or accomplish the same in-game tasks as their friends. Help them establish healthy gamer habits by setting boundaries and working with them to alternate between game time and exercise. 

As parents, you can step in to provide support. An open and honest relationship with your teens creates a better chance that they will come to you when they are upset and listen when you tell them your concerns. In the end, the ability to communicate is the most important tool you have for boosting your teen’s mental health.

Make it a point to implement the changes we have discussed today. You can help your teens get through their challenging issues and feelings so that they can grow into proud and confident adults.


About the Author: Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter, @KatieBWrites93.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska: https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-teenagers-sitting-on-a-couch-while-using-their-electronic-gadgets-6256073/

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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