Close this search box.

Self-Care: Why Teens Need It and Four Ways Adults Can Help


Let’s bust the myth about self-care being indulgent. Caring for oneself is a critical part of individual wellbeing. And – self-care isn’t just for adults, it’s essential for young people as well. This article shares statistics about the benefits of prioritizing self-care as an adolescent, and provides suggestions on how adults can support teens in this effort.

What Is Self-Care:

Self-care is the practice of tending to oneself physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically to promote overall health and wellness throughout the lifespan.

Self-care involves many aspects of a person’s life, including:

  1. sleep
  2. hygiene
  3. nutrition
  4. exercise
  5. leisure
  6. stress
  7. socialization
  8. time outdoors
  9. access to resources: housing, income, environment, education, medication, healthcare, food

The goal of self-care is to aid in the prevention or control of illness or disease through life-enriching behavior.

Why Do Adolescents Need Self-Care:

Adolescents are undergoing the most significant amount of development they will experience in their lifetime. They undergo physical maturation alongside cognitive, hormonal, and social-emotional development all while attempting to balance school, hobbies, friends, and home life.

Studies show young people are experiencing more mental health distress post-Covid. The Department of Education reported that in a May 2020 survey, one in four young people (ages 13-19) reported an “increase in sleep loss due to worry, feeling unhappy or depressed, feeling constantly under strain, and loss of confidence in themselves.

While these statistics are alarming, there is evidence that young people know the importance of self care. A 2023 survey in the U.S. found more than 90% of young people used self-care methods to manage their mental health and emotions. Those methods included listening to music, exercise, watching movies or playing video games, sports, hobbies, engaging in art, spending time outdoors, etc.

Self-care is self-preservation. When adolescents develop their own self-care practices, they are expanding their resilience and coping skills toolbox.

Four Ways Adults Can Help Teens Develop Self-Care Routines:

  1. Lead by Example: Adolescents are wired to look to their environment for social and behavioral cues. Adults have an opportunity to model healthy self-care habits for the young people in their life. That can look like verbally sharing the ways in which you care for yourself as an adult and later demonstrating self-care through action. It is important for young people to see adults close to them practice resilience and coping skills — even in the stressful moments — so that they can mirror that behavior themselves when experiencing their own obstacles. Check out our article on how to be a positive role model for more information.
  2. Prioritize the Basics: Sleep is critical for healthy cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development for young people. Ensuring that teens get 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night when possible is a major act of self-care. So yes, it is totally ok for an adolescent to sleep in on the weekends — they need that sleep for growth. Adults can also help teens focus on their hygiene, nutrition, exercise habits, and making time for fun.
  3. Collaborate: Do the self-care together! Adults have an opportunity to connect with teens through self-care. Whether it’s going on a walk or hike together, exploring a new place, trying new food, watching a movie together, or a spa night – it’s important for adolescents and adults to spend time together without obligations, pressure, or expectations.
  4. Listen: Being an open, available, and safe person for a teen to communicate with is paramount. Adolescents want to feel seen and heard; they want to share their thoughts and experiences without fear of judgment or blame. Cultivating that type of environment at home, in school, in sports, or in the community will help adolescents thrive. For tips on how to approach listening to teens, check out our blogs on active listening and effective communication.

Interested in learning more about self-care and its benefits for adolescents and adults? Read more about our accredited life coach trainings here.

Change the lives of youth. Starting today.