Throughout the spring, fall, and winter, most teens are juggling school assignments and extracurricular activities. They're preoccupied with getting good grades, filling out college applications, and studying for important exams.
Summer, however, is a chance to exhale. It's the perfect time to wave goodbye to the tremendous amount of pressure that you've been under and focus on self-care. While this season is joyous, it is also fleeting. Here's how to make the most of your summer with some simple self-care ideas for teens.
1. Follow a consistent schedule
It might be tempting to ignore your routine this summer, but it's important to follow a consistent schedule. Make an effort to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, eat meals at regular times, and spend time with your loved ones. Your daily routine doesn't have to be 100% perfect, but prioritizing your physical health can help your body feel its best. Plus, going to bed and waking up around the same time each night is linked to healthier sleep hygiene and, by extensions, better mental health.
2. Keep a gratitude journal
Simply put, gratitude journaling is all about reflecting on things that you're grateful for in your daily life. Every morning (or night, if you prefer), take some time to jot down what you're grateful for. This is a perfect activity you can use to anchor your morning or evening routine around!
Gratitude journaling works because it helps you rewire your brain to focus on the positive aspects of your life. It's an amazing tool to build resilience against stressful situations, combat negative thoughts, and deal with the emotional strains that life throws at you.
3. Spend some time outside
Summer is filled with warm temperatures and sun-filled days, so why not take advantage of the picture-perfect weather? Try taking a long walk around your neighborhood to clear your head and enjoy the weather. You can even invite your friends or family members to get some exercise with you.
Spending time outside and engaging in regular physical activities is another important practice when trying to maintain mental wellness. And while you don’t have to run 10 miles a day to see the benefits of exercise, making sure to incorporate some form of movement every day not only helps your body, but also calms your mind and sends your nervous system endorphins (or the “happy” hormones).
4. Make a feel-good summer playlist
The best way to celebrate summer? Turn up the heat with your favorite songs. Music is an effortless way to boost your mood and unleash your creativity. It can also help you motivate yourself to get moving (bonus points for listening to music during your next walk or workout session).
5. Plan an at-home spa day
For most people, summer comes with an added pressure to hang out with friends, spend time with family, or work a summer job. If you don't take enough time to rest, constant socializing can feel exhausting. Remind yourself that it's OK to say "no" and take time for yourself.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, try taking a bubble bath, using your favorite face mask, or doing a DIY manicure to boost your mood. To complete your at-home spa day, set the scene with a scented candle, essential oils, and relaxing music.
6. Look for fun activities in your community
Want to meet new people? Looking to spend some time out of the house? Search for fun activities in your community, whether that's volunteering, yard sales, local festivals, or outdoor movies. Even if it's something small, making plans can add structure to your routine and give you something to look forward to.There are multiple ways to check what activities may be happening in your community, with platforms such as Facebook and Eventbrite allowing users to invite, share, or host community events.
7. Put your mental health first
Your mental health matters. Even if you had a good week, always take time to check in with yourself. How did you feel? Is there anything you could do to make next week better? Maybe you need to go to bed earlier, spend less time scrolling through social media, or prepare healthy meals before work. It’s easy to get swept up into the fervor of summer activities and forget to check in with yourself. So one solid way to take care of yourself this summer is to simply ask yourself, “How am I doing?”
If the answer is “anxious” or “depressed” or other signs of mental health issues, it's important to remember that help is available. Online therapy can help you access quality mental health care from the comfort of your own home—and you won't have to put your summer on hold to meet with a licensed therapist.
At Charlie Health, our virtual intensive outpatient program (IOP) offers comprehensive mental health support for adolescents, teens, young adults, and their families. Our IOP combines personalized tracks of group, individual, and family therapy to help you take care of your mental health throughout the year. Contact us today to take the first step in your journey toward mental wellness.