Now that you are growing up and becoming an adult, you will need to learn how to take care of yourself. You will need to practice good hygiene, manage your diet, make sure you get enough exercise, get plenty of sleep, and learn to care for your mental health. This can all seem like a lot, but with a little knowledge, you can make sure you grow up healthy and strong.
A healthy diet consists of a mix of vegetables, fruit, lean meats, low-fat dairy, and whole grains and eating less sugary and fatty foods along with sugary sweetened beverages. There are no magic foods, super foods, or key foods that will fix health problems or make you into a superhuman.
The USDA recommends eating a diet where about half of your food plate is a mix of fruit and vegetables. Focus on eating a variety of whole fruits and vegetables every day. When eating grains, at least half of them should be whole grains. Eat lean protein sources and limit the amount of sugar, salt, and saturated fat you eat every day. Click here or on the picture to learn more!
Remember when we were talking about how your hair and skin will get oilier? This means you are going to need to shower more often. You will need to use soap and shampoo when you shower. If you play a sport, you will need to shower after you practice and after you have a game. You will also need to start wearing deodorant. Most adults you know use deodorant every day. If you do not use deodorant, your body odor will be more noticeable to the people around you. You also need to make sure you brush and floss your teeth regularly.
Getting enough sleep is essential for your health and well-being. Not getting enough sleep can make you forget things like your girlfriend's birthday or the date of that big exam. It can make it harder to concentrate. In the long term, a chronic lack of sleep can contribute to obesity, depression and even acne!
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep every night. It may not always be possible to get 8 hours and sometimes we have health conditions that affect our sleep. If you are regularly sleeping less than 7 hours or more than 11 hours every night, you may want to talk to your doctor.
When you grow very quickly, you can get have growing pains in your shins, knees or back. To help relieve this, exercise regularly. The World Health Organization recommends getting about 60 minutes of physical activity every day to stay healthy. This does not mean that you need to go running for an hour every day, Physical activity can be anything from walking to and from school to playing sports to just messing around with your friends outside. So, that soccer team you are on? That counts as physical activity. What about your swim team? That counts, too.
Sometimes we get anxious, depressed, and overwhelmed even though we eat well, sleep enough, and exercise. It is important to take time to evaluate how you feel on a regular basis. If you have been feeling depressed, overwhelmed or anxious for more than 2 weeks and it is beginning to affect your school or social life, you may have something more more serious than normal teenage changes. If you feel like everything is just too much and you can not deal with it all, talk to someone you trust and consider talking to a counselor. They can help you build skills and confidence that will help you better deal with stress, conflict, and difficult feelings. Needing or wanting to see a counselor is nothing to be ashamed of. It takes strength to recognize when we need help and counselors are professionally trained to help you out.
Depression can look different for many different people. You might feel sad, empty or hopeless. You might lose interest in things you normally do. You might sleep too much or not be able to sleep at all. You might lack energy or feel tired a lot. You might eat more than usual or never feel hungry. It might feel like your brain is foggy all the time or you may have a hard time focusing. You might forget things, not remember what happened, or have a hard time making decisions. If these things sound like you and you have been feeling this way for two or more weeks, you may have depression and it is really important to reach out to someone you trust and a mental health professional. They will be able to help in getting what you need.
Sometimes feeling anxious is a completely normal feeling, but when you feel anxious frequently or those feelings keep you from doing normal activities in your life, it is possible you have a more serious issue. Some symptoms of anxiety include feeling nervous, restless or tense either for a long time or during short episodes called panic attacks. You might feel like something awful is about to happen. Your heart rate might go up and you may start breathing rapidly. You may sweat, tremble or feel weak or tired. You might have a hard time thinking about anything other than the things that worry you and it might even keep you up at night. A lot of worrying might even give you digestive problems. If you have these feelings and it is starting to interfere with your day-to-day activities, reach out to someone you trust and consider seeing your doctor or a mental health professional. They can help you learn to manage your feelings so you can resume the things you enjoy doing.