Self-care and mental health are part of national conversations more than ever, and today’s teens are feeling the pressure.
In fact, in a survey conducted with Boys & Girls Club teens, nearly 50% identified mental health as the No. 1 issue they are concerned about.
Recently, gold medalist and mental health advocate Michael Phelps connected with Club teens at our National Keystone Conference for young leaders to discuss ways to improve mental health and overall wellbeing.
As a partner of Boys & Girls Clubs of America for nearly 20 years, Michael Phelps and the Michael Phelps Foundation have championed the importance of water safety, goal-setting, and physical and mental health with the millions of young people Clubs serve each year.
As he spoke about his own mental health journey, Phelps shared some of the things he utilizes to help reduce stress, be confident and incorporate wellness into your everyday life. Below are a few tips for maintaining your mental health during stressful times like the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Michael Phelps’ Top 5 Mental Health Tips for Teens:
Establish a routine that works for you.
Mental health impacts absolutely every area of your life, which is why it’s so important to establish a routine to help ensure that you are doing something to put yourself first every single day. While this routine comes in the form of a workout for me, I recognize that this will be different for every person. Taking a long walk, meditating, writing in a journal or whatever it may be – do whatever it is that allows you to feel like your most authentic self throughout every day.
Find your ultimate support system.
It’s important to learn who you can lean on when you aren’t feeling your best. This could be a friend, therapist, parent, mentor or anyone who remains your biggest advocate through your ups and downs. Once you know who you can trust to support you, you won’t feel the need to take on your challenges alone.
Remind yourself that you are NEVER alone.
Struggles and stress are a part of life and the human experience, so please know (and remind yourself) that it’s okay to ask for help. The struggles that a person goes through makes them unique to who they are – and acknowledging this will allow you to find peace in loving yourself. Engaging your support system, like you may have at your Boys & Girls Club, can be a positive step in connecting and getting support.
Think of each day as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Many of us go through mental health struggles on a daily and weekly basis. However, learning to view each day as an opportunity to grow and become the best version of ourselves has been a key mindset shift to help find my mental peace on the tough days.
Allow yourself to slow down and take a breath when you need it.
My wife and I encourage our own kids to take what we call a “lion breath” when they feel stressed. If you feel like you need it, feel free to let out a big “ROAR” on the exhale… it will probably feel better than you think.
Learn more about mental health resources to support kids and teens in managing their emotions and building resiliency.