Making Your Way Through Adolescence Without Mental Illness

Believe it or not, many teens suffer from mental illness – including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more. If you’re a teen yourself, it’s hard to recognize that your friends might have one of these illnesses because psychological ill health is not something you can see. Plus, because so much of the public is not familiar with mental illness, even if you were walking around depressed, many people won’t notice it!


Sometimes, you might not even notice it in yourself! For that reason, it’s best to do what you can to take care of your own psychological health. Although your parents are still responsible for your well being, taking care of your own health is a responsibility you should take on now. You can do this by taking good care of your body, talking about your feelings especially if they are intense, and finding ways to express your creativity or, in other words, connecting with your authenticity.


Taking Good Care of Your Body


Tending your physical needs is necessary for having a clear mind.  To do this, eat healthy and get the right amount of sleep at night.


Eat healthy foods:


Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains: This should make up ¾ of every meal. These foods provide carbohydrates, which is primary fuel for working hard at practice. You only have a limited supply of this food source in your body so being sure to replenish this food type is essential. If you don’t, you’ll notice yourself dragging in practice.


Protein Foods: This food group should make up the other ¼ of your meal. These are foods like meats, chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, beans, and tofu. They provide amino acids, which are the building blocks for making other types of protein, and help you build muscle tissue. This food group is also a good source of iron. This is an important mineral you need to maintain your energy level.


Dairy Foods: The best recommendation for this food group is to have 3-4 servings per day. This includes milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese and ice scream. Remember to choose lower fat options as best you can. These foods provide high quality protein, carbs, calcium, and Vitamin D as well. During the growth of adolescence, you’ll be adding on 40% more bone to your body, requiring all the calcium you can get.


Fat: This is the primary muscle fuel you use during low intensity activities. Be sure to steer clear of the unhealthy versions and instead choose the healthy fats such as those found in fish, like salmon; and a variety of plant sources, such as nuts, avocados, and vegetable oils.


Sleep Well:


Try to establish a regular sleep schedule every day of the week for your teen. If you need to get up at 6am in order to be at school on time, you likely need to go to bed at 9pm. With this schedule, you’ll get 9 hours of sleep at night. If you have trouble sleeping, then it will become even more necessary to stick to the schedule you create. A regular schedule can help with feeling clear-minded, rested, and rejuvenated for productive and successful days.


Talking About Your Feelings


Teens can have very intense emotions from time to time, including sadness, shame, guilt, anger, rage, and suicidal feelings. If you’re feeling any of these or other emotions that are intense, be sure to talk about these feelings with someone you trust! Keeping feelings to yourself can be damaging to your psychological health. Although it’s hard to talk about feelings – you feel embarrassed or vulnerable to discuss these things – not doing talking about your feelings can be harmful. Talk to an adult you trust.


Expressing Your Creativity


Adolescence is an incredibly creative time. Although you might feel constrained by the demands of your parents and teachers, now’s the time to explore all that life has to offer! You might not be able to go out and do all the things you want, but you can certainly make plans to do so when you’re 18, or when you’re in your 20’s. Make sure to leave time every week (or daily) to write, paint, dance, or draw. Your creativity can be a way to discover who you are and what you want to do in life!


These are important ways to take care of yourself! If you make these a regular practice, you’re sure to avoid the challenges of mental illness.