Self care is such an important factor in our lives. And as parents we often put it on the back burner feeling that it is selfish to care for ourselves when there are things we could be doing for our family. This is especially true of women in general. Society has conditioned us to think of others before ourselves. But that is a whole other conversation and a feminist pinterest hole I often get lost down in the darkest hours of the night.
Aaand back to my original point – self care is important and it is not selfish. In fact, if we care for ourselves properly we are in better shape to look after others. Nobody ever says “Why are you changing the oil in your car? Its purpose is to just be taking you where you need to go.” We all know that without fuel and maintenance the car is going to be less fuel effective over time and eventually break down. People aren’t cars (even though I’m pretty sure I could add a plethora of automotive based innuendos right here) but the point still stands. All people, adults and children alike need to be looked after properly to function at their fullest capacity.
If you’re anything like me, you just jump in your car and drive without a second thought, both literally and metaphorically. And it isn’t until you hear a chug in the engine or everything slows down that you think about the mechanics of the whole operation. If you know anything about me from my various blog posts that focus on mental health, it is that I am a huge fan of mindfulness. Living a mindful life helps me quiet the anxious chatter in my head and live my best, happiest, most stress free, insert-your-own-chilled-out-adjectives-and-superlatives-here life. In fact, if you head to this post over here, you’ll find a handy mindful day planner that can help you bring mindfulness to even the busiest of days. And here you will find some five minute mindfulness techniques that you can bring to your work day to ease the stress of being in an office surrounded by a whole stack of stupid.
Teens especially are prone to forgetting to do the basics that keep them happy and healthy (and often hygienic…). They are in this awesome, awkward state between childhood and adulthood where the world is not new, but they are learning to navigate it without the training wheels on. By us giving them the space they need to discover themselves, grow into functioning adults and steer their own path they no longer have us hovering over them reminding them to do the little things.
So on that note, here is my handy dandy, printable and saveable as a .pdf mental health check list of things for your teen to do when they’re feeling flat and shite and they don’t know what to do about it. And it is pretty darn good advice for we grown-ups to be reminded of as well.
What Have I Had to Eat?
Have you forgotten to eat, gotten to busy to have time to eat or be subsisting on junk food for too long? Your body needs fuel. Find tasty nutrients and ingest them regularly. There is a very strong link between food and disorders such as anxiety and depression, if you are interested in looking into this more in depth, head to the Food and Mood Centre website.
Have I Had Enough Water to Drink?
Two litres, or eight glasses, per day is the standard recommended amount of water to drink per day. Fill up a Pump bottle and drink three of those per day. The last thing you need, especially if you already have a mental health issue, is to be struggling against the effects of dehydration. Becoming dehydrated impacts your ability to think clearly and negatively affects mood.
What are My Sleep Patterns Like?
How good is bed? I love bed. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in my trackies snuggled up on my bed writing this post while listening to the weather rage outside. Good, uninterrupted sleep is important to give the brain some down time to process the day and increase mental resilience during waking hours. And it aids memory. Get you teen sleeping like their grades depend on it – because they kind of do.
When did I Last Talk to a Friend?
Good friendships are even better than a freshly made bed with line dried sheets. Research shows that people who have regular contact with friends produce less cortisol in the brain. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can lead to symptoms of anxiety. Staying cooped up in their room studying all holidays or playing video games alone is not helping stress levels. Reach out and contact someone, prompt your teen to speak to a friend if they’ve gotten too insular or wrapped up in the stress of getting good grades.
Have I Been Active Today?
This one time, I put the symptoms to my fibromyalgia into web md and it came up telling me I was most likely suffering from exercise. True story. But don’t let that put you off of pulling on your sweat pants and taking a walk in mother nature. Exercise releases the happy-feel-good endorphin serotonin, aids sleep (see above), reduces stress, enlarges the part of the brain responsible for memory and the list goes on.
What am I Thinking About?
There’s not nearly enough space here to talk about all the detrimental effects of negative thinking on mental health. Getting trapped inside our own heads replaying past events, unnecessarily worrying about the future, or focusing on negative self-talk can increase can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Speak to your mental health professional about techniques that work for you to keep your mind healthy and positive.
While this is not an exhaustive list of things that impact mental health and is not a complete treatment plan, it is certainly a good place to start when you are feeling flat and a good reminder to have up somewhere to avoid feeling like dehydrated shite.