Building Self-Care Practices
I hear the phrase “self-care” everywhere these days; yet, it’s a practice I am still building. For 25+ years of my life, this concept was not a part of my vocabulary or comprehension. Sure, I knew that my dad often gave my mom massage gift certificates for her birthday and that my grandparents loved spending time in a mountain cabin each weekend. I also knew that therapy was a place I could vent and that playing soccer made me feel healthy and strong. This is all just skimming the surface, though.
I didn’t have a name for intentional, self-soothing, mindful routines, or self-care. Furthermore, I thought of wellness practices as “adult stuff.”
“Naming” is the act of acknowledging and recognizing an experience; this process gives us the power of self-awareness and choice. Once I learned the name “self-care,” I was able to identify my own ongoing needs for small acts of love and rest. Later, as I approached 30, I started naming my preferred self-care rituals and prioritizing them in my schedule.
The Benefits of Self-Care
Self-care has become a safe place, a reprieve, a retreat, a healing and grounding force, even with brief 10-20 minute activities. Again, this is still an area of my life that I am consciously growing, and sometimes even struggle with; however, I know that my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical selves are worth the work. (It’s funny how softening or letting go can sometimes be the hardest work, right?!)
Self-awareness and self-regulation are the foundational skills of social and emotional intelligence. Moreover, both of these layers connect directly with self-care, or the ways we know how to care for, soothe, and love ourselves. Self-care helps us manage and reduce stress so that we can think more clearly and function at our highest levels. For it is in knowing ourselves, being aware of our needs and preferences, that we can take caring and calming actions for ourselves. Self-regulation is the ability to respond, not just react, and this skill increases as we practice self-care.
Thus, we are never too young to learn and implement self-care. In fact, the rapidly changing teenage brain can gain stability and become more resilient through self-care practices. The lives of teens can be drastically transformed, supported, and affirmed through self-care tools.
I teach all of my clients, teens and parents, about self-care and support them establishing routines that build a compassionate relationship with self. Today, I’m excited to share communciation tools for bringing your teen into the self-care conversation, as well as easy to implement practices.
8 Strategies for Talking to Teenagers About Self-Care:
1. Practice self-care yourself consistently, regularly, with dedication, and with purpose. Ensure that you are making time for yourself EACH day. You are constantly modeling behavior to your children, and teaching them self-care is invaluable. Equally importantly, you need self-care practices in order to feel sustained and nourished and to give to your children fully.
2. Emphasize that self-care is not a way to be “fixed” or “changed;” instead, it’s about being exactly where we are. Describe these practices as a necessary part of life for all people. For example, you can explain that self-care practices are normal, important parts of emotional hygiene!
3. Encourage an honest assessment of where/when your teen feels most happy, most comfortable, and most at ease. Specifically, ask your child or teen questions like, “Where do you feel most joyful and relaxed?” Give them the space to name and describe places and activities that feel calming to them.
4. Invite an honest assessment of times of day, places, space, or activities that cause stress or energy drain. Get in the habit of asking questions like, “When do you notice feeling the most stress during the day?” Again, you are creating an opening for self-reflection through which your teen will better know themselves.
5. Teach that self-care doesn’t have to cost money or look like it does in the magazines. It’s important that we demystify self-care. It doesn’t have to mean going to a fancy spa for an entire weekend. These practices can be DIY, done in the comfort of your own home or a public park, and require nothing but your mindfulness. Additionally, it can be practiced in brief chunks of time. Get creative by browsing Pinterest or IG with your child or teen. I suggest keeping a list of go-to routines on the fridge. (Get a free downloadable list here!)
6. Model checking in with yourself, as you encourage your teen to do the same. Scanning our bodies and noticing fluctuations in our minds helps us determine if and when we need a break. As children and teens grow in self-awareness, many undesired behaviors can be interrupted or avoided. Model emotional awareness by describing where you feel sensations such as anxiety, overwhelm, peace, joy, etc. in your body. Ask your teen to notice where they hold different emotions too. Return to this conversation regularly.
7. Support your teen in developing and committing to routines for self-care. Talk about the times of day you intentionally care for and soothe yourself. How do you fit this into your daily routines? Ask questions such as, “What times of day do you tend to feel more stressed? Tired?” or “How do you plan to add these rituals into your schedule?” If you have a weekly routine of reviewing family schedules, include self-care appointments or practices in the conversation and on the calendar!
8. Talk about and let them share their knowledge about the mind-body connection. Ask your child what they notice about their body when they are calm, overwhelmed, well-rested, etc. Discuss the importance of health in all parts of our being.
- Mindful coloring
- Walk while listening to music
- Take a bubble bath
- Use facial masks or painting nails
- Play with or walk your pet
- Drink a cup of tea
- Use lavender oil (or another preferred oil)
Get your free downloadable list of these ideas and more here!
If you’d like support in building your own self-care routines or in holding space for your teen to develop daily practices, please reach out to me! As a coach, I am excited to act as a mentor and accountability partner for people who want to grow and transform their lives. Is this you?