Children need to focus on self-care, too
Children nowadays are busier than ever. From homework, extracurricular activities to the hustle and bustle of daily life, it can be easy for them to feel anxious, stressed and worried.
Dr. Lisa Simons, attending physician, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, explains how kids can participate in self-care so they can experience the mental and physical benefits of taking care of themselves.
Self-care is considered any form of deliberate activity that someone engages in to preserve or promote wellness.
An overarching goal is to help the individual improve their physical and emotional health.
There are endless possibilities of self-care techniques; it may take youth some trial and error to identify the right activities for them. Examples include: prioritizing sleep, practicing yoga and other forms of exercise, taking a quiet walk in the park, listening to music or simply spending time with someone you care about.
Simons says meditation or mindful practices have been found to be incredibly beneficial to physical and emotional well-being, such as leading to stress reduction and improved energy and concentration.
"Self-care is important for absolutely everyone. Period," says Simons. "Practicing self-care is restorative, healing and energizing. It prepares kids and adults alike to better manage stress when it arises. Self-care also promotes a sense of self-worth -- if we're making time for ourselves, it means we deserve that care."
When we do not take care of ourselves, we are often fatigued and have less capacity to cope with stress, which also applies to kids. When a person is hungry, tired or does not feel well, stress can be more difficult to manage and handle.
Parents or guardians can be crucial examples for kids when it comes to practicing appropriate self-care.
Kids often learn from observation and experience, and when they see adults unplug from devices or spend time doing activities that make them happy, this is the best way to teach them self-care.
Self-care should be taught and implemented starting as early as possible. The earlier we teach kids to value self-care, the more this practice is ingrained and cultivated as a way of life rather than a chore, according to Simons.
What about teenagers and adolescents?
As teens begin to explore their identity, discover who they are and comprehend what is most important to them, they may want to find their own ways to practice self-care.
"Self-care isn't about being happy all the time; it's about choosing activities that recharge us, 'fill our buckets' and place us in a better emotional and physical state," emphasizes Simons. "The end result is that people who practice self-care feel more connected to themselves and to others and are better prepared to handle the ups and downs that life presents."
• Children's Health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Lurie Children's Hospital. For additional information, visit luriechildrens.org.