Developing a strong sense of wellbeing is an important part of being healthy, happy and getting the most out of life. It can help teenagers manage the challenges of the developmental years and be a protective factor against mental illness. However, wellbeing is important for your whole family to develop and is something you can work on together.
Five Ways to Wellbeing
There are five evidence-based ways to develop and maintain mental wellbeing according to the New Economic Foundation (UK). These are simple activities that you, your child and the whole family can do that will have a positive effect on your collective wellbeing.
Positive relationships with friends, family and peers are essential for promoting mental wellbeing. Encourage your child to make new friendships and maintain an active connection with their friends. Help them foster meaningful connections with others by being an active member of the school community, sports team, volunteering and making time for family.
Exercising regularly has been shown to lower rates of depression and anxiety. It’s particularly important for teenagers to make time for exercise to relieve stress, especially during exam time.
Also known as ‘mindfulness’, the practice of being aware and taking notice of ‘the little things’ trains us to be aware of our thoughts and feelings. A popular way of practicing mindfulness is by being grateful. A simple way to practice gratitude is to take some time at the end of each day to consciously acknowledge three things we were grateful for. This simple exercise, when practiced consciously, has been found to enhance mental wellbeing.
Teenagers’ lives are focused on learning and it is vital for their social and cognitive development. Encouraging your child to learn new skills, especially if they are creative in nature, will enhance their self esteem, encourage social interaction and help them live a more active life. A love of learning is a great quality to have in life.
When we give our time and energy to help someone else it is very rewarding. It gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. Volunteering, giving time to a cause that your child feels strongly about and giving kindness will also help your child understand empathy.
Other ways to improve wellbeing
Other things that can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing include:
- eating healthy and nutritious food
- spending time in nature
- personal challenges, that stretch someone’s ability but don’t feel overwhelming
Another aspect of mental wellbeing that is critical during the teenage years is sleep. Sleep psychologists recommend that the optimum amount of sleep for teenagers is 7.5 hours a night. When teenagers become depressed they can tend to sleep more and their sleep pattern is turned upside down, they will sleep all day and be awake all night. Getting young people to readjust to a circadian sleep pattern of will greatly improve their mental wellbeing.