Mental health in your teens

You’ve probably already noticed that there’s a lot going on in your teens. Your body is growing and changing. You might find that there are more expectations of you as you finish high school or start work. You have to learn how to navigate changing relationships with your parents, friends, work colleagues, teachers and romantic partners.

With all these changes and new things to learn, it might seem like looking after your mental health is just too much right now. But there’s never been a better time to check-in with your mental wellbeing. We’ve listed five things you can do as a teenager to help look after your mental health.

1. Understand – what even is mental health anyway?

Mental health is the health of your mind, thoughts and emotions. Mental health is something that everyone has, just like everyone has physical health. This means that mental health is something that everyone can take care of. In the same way that you take care of your physical body, you can look after your mental wellbeing through the choices you make about your lifestyle and environment.

Looking after your mental health means learning strategies that can help keep you well, and knowing when to get help if you need it. The habits you set up now can support you throughout your adult life.

Below we’ve gathered information and ideas about how you can take care of your mental wellbeing as a teenager, with links to organisations and tools that are designed especially for you.

A teenage boy sits behind the wheel of a car, holding up his Learner’s plate and the car keys, smiling.
There’s no doubt about it – your teenage years are busy! There are strategies you can use if the stress of exams, work, or things like getting your licence begins to build up.

2. Think about how food and drink affect your mood

The food and drinks you eat can affect how well you feel, both physically and mentally. Regularly eating healthy food gives you energy to get through the day and can help to stabilise your mood.

Try these tips for eating to feel good:

Don’t skip breakfast

Breakfast kickstarts your energy for the day, getting you off on the right foot before you even leave the house. If you’re not sure what to eat, or you’re sick of having toast every day, you can find some healthy breakfast ideas here.

Drink plenty of water

Being dehydrated can give you a headache and make you feel tired or irritable. Carry a water bottle with you so you can keep sipping water throughout the day, and drink extra on hot days or after exercise.

Skip the sugary treats

Eating sugary lollies, pastries and drinks can make your blood sugar levels rise quickly – which makes you feel good – but then make them drop quickly, leaving you feeling sluggish, irritable and hungry. Looking for a snack that will fill you up and leave you feeling good? Try these easy ideas on Healthier. Happier.

3. Get active

You might have thought exercise was just about moving your muscles, but exercise can be beneficial for your mind, too.

When you exercise, your body releases hormones that make you feel good, like endorphins. Exercise can also help you relax your muscles, control your breathing and take your mind off your to-do list.

Try to fit some type of physical activity into every day, even if it’s just ten minutes at first. Exercise doesn’t have to be part of a dedicated training regime; any physical activity will do, so pick something you enjoy. You could go for a run, take the dog for a walk, have a dance in your bedroom or get some friends together to play a game of basketball or cricket at a local park.

You can find more information about exercise and ideas on how to get active as a young person in Queensland here.

4. Learn how to deal with stress

Stress is a normal bodily response to situations where you feel under pressure. You might feel pressure from upcoming exams, work or sport commitments, managing friendships and relationships, or just from life in general.

In little bursts, stress can actually be useful, helping you to concentrate and work hard. But when it’s ongoing and you feel like you can never relax, stress isn’t good. Ongoing stress can make you tired, give you a headache or upset stomach, or even make you feel anxious or depressed.

Try these tips for preventing yourself from getting too stressed out:

Take some time out every day

Build a break into your schedule every day when you can relax and just be yourself. Listen to music, watch a favourite show, cook something or go for a walk – whatever you enjoy doing is the perfect thing to do during your ‘you’ time. Even if you’ve got a big exam or deadline coming up, taking a little break can actually help you perform better when you return to your work.

– Queensland Health

Read More: 5 Things You can Do to Look after Your Mental Health in your Teens

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