calm kid sitting cross legged

Our ability to manage stress is largely built on a foundation of strong self care habits. Taking regular care of basic physical and emotional needs contributes to our overall well being and resiliency. Recently I was given a copy of ‘Personal Resiliency’ and decided I needed to share this with my students. I like that it is set up like a checklist, and would be useful hanging in a high traffic location like the kitchen refrigerator.

While I think this may have been designed for adults, it is useful for everyone. When working with tweens and teens, however, it is important to filter the information through their lens. The annotated list below is what we collectively recreated. They represent ideals. We do not always/usually live up to all of our ideals. Our list below is meant to serve as a set of goals.

Physical Considerations

Eating Well

  • Nutritious food used as fuel
  • Not starving (to save up for a binge or for weight loss)
  • Not eating for emotional reasons

Sleep Hygiene

  • Growing bodies need more sleep 9-10 hours/night; listen to your body
    • Balance between a biological drive to stay up later and sleep in with school start times
  • Build in ‘wind down’ time for 2 hours before sleep
    • Gentle stretching, guided meditation, soft music
    • Read something light/ not disturbing
    • Avoid screens
    • Make sure you ate in advance so you are not hungry or full

Hydration

  • Roughly 8 cups or equivalent/day
  • Avoid excessively drinking caffeinated beverages
  • Fresh fruit and veg can also hydrate

Movement

  • Much debate over how much exercise is needed; listen to your body
  • Make a point of using all muscle groups daily
  • Pay attention to how long you are sitting; get up and move, stretch at regular intervals

Emotional/Mental Considerations

Meaningful Connections

  • Daily interactions with friends and family are linked to happiness
  • Consider that communication is mostly body language, facial expression and tone of voice, rather than the actual words we use
    • Face to face interaction is far more meaningful than texting or communicating through various social media platforms

Time Out

  • Some time each day away from obligations (homework, social drama)
  • What ‘fills your bucket’ and gives you more energy physically and emotionally?
    • Does _______ (gaming, screen time)  re-energize you, so you can deal with ____, or does it simply serve as an avoidance strategy?

Daily Mindfulness

  • Check in with/challenge your self talk
  • Are you using healthy outlets for your stress and frustration
    • Outlets that help you process your feelings, not marinate in them
    • Outlets that do not damage you or anyone else
  • Regularly be in the moment
    • Let go of past and future to enjoy the present (the weather, those around you, what you are doing right now)

Reflection

  • What are your personal values?
  • Does your day to day life reflect these values?

Repetition

  • Can you keep up positive changes long enough for them to become a habit?
  • On average it takes 21 days to create a habit

Once we went through the checklist and discussed what that meant for them, at this stage in their lives, I had them privately assess themselves on each category (scale of 1/never – 5/always). Based on that, they each chose 1 or 2 things to target over the next few weeks, to see if they could form or improve a habit.