Help me care for myself
- Let the young person you care about know that good self care can help reduce their stress and improve their mood
- Help them to plan and stick to a routine
- Encourage them to try to get enough sleep
- Make a list of things they enjoy and that are good for them
- Encourage them to try at least one of these things each day
Self-care is doing things to be healthy and reduce stress – it’s what we do to care for our mental, emotional, and physical health.
Good self-care helps improve mood and reduce anxiety. Self-care includes good hygiene, eating well, exercising and having regular contact with others. It’s also where and how we live. It’s actions we enjoy and that give us energy.
Self-care is different for different people. To figure out what self-care means for rangatahi / young people, ask them what makes them feel good. Maybe it’s a long shower, a run, or spending time with someone they love.
What makes us feel good changes depending on how we feel.
Self-care starts with knowing what makes us feel positive and trying to do some of those things every day.
Self-care is hardest when we need it the most. Even though it can be hard, it’s worth doing. If we don’t take care of ourselves it‘s hard for us to handle the hard things life throws at us and we’re less able to help friends, whānau, or our community.
Self-care is being kind to ourselves. It’s knowing when we feel sad or tired and doing things to avoid feeling worse. But not everything that feels good is self-care. Drugs, alcohol, over-eating, and risk-taking won’t help in the long run.
Self-care has a number of benefits, including:
Better physical health
It can improve our immune system, so we get sick less.
Better emotional health
It can help us feel good about ourselves and create long-term feelings of wellbeing.
When we make time for our needs, we know we are important and valuable.
By thinking about things we love to do, self-care can make us feel passionate and inspired and create positive change in our lives.
No matter what we do for self-care, it’s helpful to stick to a few basic things and have a routine. It should be an active choice, not something that just happens. Here are a few common techniques you can encourage rangatahi / young people to do:
1. Make a plan
Help your rangatahi / young person find time to make self-care a daily routine. Use a calendar to put time aside for things they want to commit to. By following the plan, actions will become habits.
2. Try meditation & yoga
Thanks to smartphones it’s easy to give meditation a go. Try downloading a free app (like Mindspace) to try.
If they don’t want to use an app, YouTube and similar sites also have meditation videos.
Meditation can positively change how we think and reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. Yoga does the same thing, and there are free yoga apps and classes online.
3. Get up and go
There are lots of ways we can work out like cycling, running and swimming. You don’t need to join a gym to improve fitness. Have a competition to see who can do more sit ups or squats, get off the bus a stop earlier and walk or bounce a ball to each other. Exercise helps fitness and can help lessen depression and anxiety.
4. Get some sleep
When rangatahi / young people don’t get enough sleep they can have trouble managing their emotions. Most rangatahi / young people need eight to nine hours of sleep. It might be challenging when they have days filled with study, social and recreational activities, but it’s very important. Set up a sleep schedule or use their smartphone alarm to wake up, and to go to bed.
5. Get creative
Get them to tap into their creativity to express their thoughts and feelings. Journaling, writing, painting or drawing, photography, dancing, or playing music are all good self-care, and they don’t need to take all day – 5 to 10 minutes will help.
6. Spend time with friends
Talking about what’s going on with people we love is a great way to process events and emotions. But it’s not just talking - help them to do activities with friends, like going to the pool or movies or having a games evening. It’s not about having a huge number of friends or followers; a couple of special friends can make a big difference.
7. Get outside
All around Aotearoa there are beautiful bush walks, beaches, and parks near where we live. Heading outside with the young person you’re helping for a short walk or a longer walk in the bush can really make a big difference to the way they feel.
8. Have a digital detox
Encourage the young person your helping to take a break from everything digital, even if it’s an hour a day. This means no phone, video games, TV or headphones. They may find it refreshing to take a break from constant notifications from their phone.
9. Eat well
Help them eat well. Reduce foods like cookies, lollies, frozen desserts, chips, and fries. Because these types of food are low in nutrition and have heaps of sugar, unhealthy fat, and salt they can cause people to lose energy, focus and positivity. Find out which healthier foods they like and try to make these available for them.
10. Create a “no list”
It might be easier to figure out what makes them feel bad or sad. Help them create a “no list” with things they do that make them feel bad (like spreading gossip or staying up late on a school day). They can put this on their phone’s notes app and keep adding things that aren’t good for them and that they want to stop.