Many young people are in the thick of holiday celebrations or preparations, which can be stressful.
We want young people everywhere to have the best holiday season they can have. Here’s everything (or at least most of the things) that teens need to know to stay healthy and happy through the holidays and enter 2018 feeling their best, with best wishes from the staff at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center.
Take care of your emotional health.
Some young people love the holidays start to finish. But for others, it’s difficult to get through. If the holidays stress you out more than they bring you joy, our therapists have some advice.
Lindsay Gerber, PsyD, recommends taking stock of the coping mechanisms you use already (like deep breathing or journaling) and planning how to use them during the holidays. She also recommends making an emotional survival kit for your six senses. Learn how and get more advice on having a happy holiday on your own terms here.
Tiffanie Brown, LCSW shares some strategies for getting through the holidays when you have a complicated relationship with your family. Many young people don’t have control over their own holiday schedules, so it’s important to plan ahead. Can you leave dinner a bit early? Is there a quiet place you can be on your own if you’re feeling tense? Get more advice from Tiffanie here.
Of course, self-care also involves going back to the basics.
This means eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep. You can’t separate your emotional health from your physical health—they each influence the other. Taking care of your body can give you energy and boost your mood, while dealing with stress helps your body stay healthy. We talk more about how to eat healthy during the holidays here, motivating yourself to exercise here, and dos and don’ts for a good night’s sleep here.
The holidays can be especially stressful for young people with eating disorders.
Even though this post from Lonna Gordon, MD, PharmD was originally written for Thanksgiving, the same basic advice still applies. If you have an eating disorder, put together a plan for getting through meals (including what you’re going to eat). If you know that someone at your holiday celebrations has an eating disorder: discourage comments about weight, dieting, or food guilt; don’t draw attention to the eating disorder; move the focus of your celebration away from the meal itself. Learn more ways to handle an eating disorder during the holidays here.
Don’t ignore the winter blues.
The days have gotten shorter and darker, which means that you may be feeling a bit more tired and unmotivated. Some feelings of sluggishness are common, but if you’re especially unmotivated and are having trouble doing everyday activities, you might have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Talk to your health care provider about how you’re feeling—you don’t have to deal with this alone. Whether you have SAD or are just feeling a little down, you can try these 8 Tips to Beat the Winter Blues, such as getting outside, exercising, and staying social. If you’re considering buying a light box (a common treatment for SAD), read this first.
Make a New Year’s resolution that’ll actually stick.
If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution, read this You Asked It post first to see if you’re setting yourself up for success. Even though the question came from someone wanting to lose weight, there are good tips in there for anyone who has trouble sticking to their resolution!
It’s not too late to get your flu shot!
Even though it’s better to get vaccinated before flu season starts, the flu shot can still be helpful into January, according to the CDC. Find out why it’s so important to get vaccinated every year and where you can get a free flu shot here.
Of course, there’s probably a lot on your mind that we didn’t cover here, like questions about relationships, sex, your changing body, and a lot else. Check out our other blog posts to see if we’ve answered your question—or stop by the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center to ask us in person!
If you’re 10-22 years old and live near NYC, you can get free, confidential, comprehensive health care at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. Call (212) 423-3000 to make an appointment or learn more about our core services and specialized programs.
The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center is located in New York City. It provides comprehensive, confidential, judgment free health care at no charge to over 10,000 young people every year. This column is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual, only general information for education purposes only.