safety in numbersIt’s holiday season. Teens with already jam packed schedules are adding in holiday parties, school plays, music performances, time with friends, and family commitments. It can be a challenge to maintain balance. By balance I mean taking time for a break, eating well, exercising, and doing the activities that enable them to manage stress. These are my personal tips for maintaining balance this busy time of year:

  1. Sleep at night:  Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, lack of focus, and fatigue. Most teens need ~10 hours of sleep a night. Ask your teen to practice good sleep hygiene and try to keep a routine. Go to bed and get up around the same time each day.
  2. Eat regularly: keep the habit of eating regular meals and snacks. Try to avoid skipping breakfast and/or lunch in anticipation of a big meal at a family gathering; this can lead to over eating. Encourage your teen to listen to their body’s hunger cues and avoid eating out of boredom or just because it’s there.
  3. Exercise: this (like the first 2 tips) can be hard. It’s cold and dark outside this time of year and in Washington state, the sun is only out from 8am-4pm which is the exact time that most teens and adults are inside. This can limit the options for outdoor play, so be creative. Take advantage of the gym, community recreation center, or even your video game console for dance games. Walk the mall with your teen or go to open swim.
  4. Incorporate ‘me time.’ Even though there are lots of things a teen could be doing, they don’t have to do them all. Ask your teen which activities they are really interested in and teach them to say ‘no’ to things when they can.
  5. Do something nice for someone else: while your teen may not have time to volunteer each week or money to purchase food for a food bank, it does feel very good to do something nice for someone else. This can be as simple as giving a compliment, donating a toy, or as involved as volunteering to wrap presents at the local shelter.

What other tips for maintaining balance do you use? Does your teen already have things they do on a regular basis to de-stress? Encourage them to do those things and have a wonderful holiday!