Prioritizing Mental Health: A Checklist

There’s no doubt about it: teenagers are busy. Between school, homework, extracurriculars, friends, hobbies, part-time jobs and preparing for university, teens always seem to be on the go. Even so, it’s important that your teen knows how to take care of their personal well-being and mental health. Here are some simple questions they can keep in mind as part of a personal care checklist.

Am I Well Rested?

Making time for proper rest is key in maintaining mental health. In spite of this, approximately 70% of high school students aren’t getting enough rest. This lack of sleep can result in a variety of issues for teens, including depression, poor grades, unhealthy eating and can even affect physical and mental development.

Am I Eating Well?

pasta penne

Image Credit: Kaboompics

The way we treat our bodies affects the way we feel. As a result, balanced and healthy diets are crucial for mental health. Not only do healthy foods keep your teen feeling healthy physically, but they can also boost their energy and moods.

Am I Making Time for Physical Activity?

Sure, binging on an entire TV series on Netflix might feel like an enjoyable way to spend a weekend, but making time for exercise is important for your teen’s mental well-being. Physical activity can help regulate sleep patterns and boost self-esteem by increasing endorphins in your teen’s brain.

Do I Spend Time Outside?

teen walking outside

Image Credit: Kevin Young

Spending time outside is also beneficial for your teen’s mental health. In fact, research has shown that experiencing nature can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. In other words, your teen should make it a habit to engage in regular walks outdoors.

Am I Doing Something that Brings Me Joy?

Feeling a sense of purpose and joy is an important part of boosting overall mental health. Whether it’s a hobby or extracurricular, there are many ways your teen can find something that they love. You can encourage your teen to find something they feel passionate about to gain a sense of meaning and happiness.

Am I Balancing Work and Play?

teen reading a book

Image Credit: Kaboompics

This is something we might think about more when we’re adults: the importance of balancing work and play. But teaching your teen to cultivate a sense of balance early on will help them integrate this habit of self care into their mental health routine. In fact, teens can face a lot of stress with homework and school, and so they need an opportunity to relax and have fun. You can help your teen create a schedule that outlines studying periods as well as times when they can decompress.

Do I Have Enough Time for Friends and Family?

Relationships enrich our lives and, as a result, it’s important that your teen has enough time to cultivate them. Part of the balance of life is taking time to invest in others and having others provide support too. This can be factored into your teen’s schedule, where they can set aside some time to spend with their loved ones.

Do I Feel in Control of My Emotions?

calm teen sitting on rock

Image Credit: Jeremy Yap

One quick way for your teen to get a sense of their overall mental health is to assess whether or not they feel in control of their emotions. Of course, mood swings can be a normal part of being a teenager, but sudden shifts in emotions could also be an indication that something is off. When your teen takes a moment to check their emotions, they can also assess the other items on this mental health checklist.

By keeping these considerations in mind, your teen will be able to maintain their mental health as they manage the other important aspects of their life.

Feature Image: Ben Seidelman