3 Ways to Holistically Support Your Teens’ and Tweens’ Health and Well-Being Post-COVID
By: Ashley Logan
The Coronavirus wreaked havoc on families, societies, and global economies. Lives were disrupted. Places of work closed, schools were shut down, and global economies turned upside down. No one was spared the fear that comes with a global pandemic.
And here we are today reinventing how we conduct business virtually, how our children are educated in our schools, and how global supply chains function with shortages. Businesses have adjusted, families have adapted, and schools have in large part reopened. There have been many lessons learned.
And yet, we have not fully accounted for the intangible costs of COVID, particularly among our teens and tweens. Now, more than ever, our children need our help in cultivating routines, practices, and habits that holistically support their mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being.
Routines, habits, and practices that holistically support your teens’ and tweens’ overall health and well-being need not be complicated, expensive, or time-consuming. Often, simple practices done in a consistent manner add up to create meaningful and impactful change over time. A holistic approach considers the whole person that your beautiful child is, not just one isolated aspect of him/her/they. Each of these suggestions will have a positive and powerful ripple effect into other areas of your child’s life and perhaps on your own as well.
Here are three ways to holistically support your teens’ and tweens’ health and well-being post-COVID.
1) Encourage a morning routine.
Do you remember when your tween was a baby, and it was impressed upon us mothers to establish a sleep and feeding routine? The human body craves healthy routine.
Creating a consistent morning routine for your teen or tween sets the tone for the day. Waking up at roughly the same time each morning effectively establishes the body’s circadian rhythm for the day and sets it up for restorative sleep at night.
It also helps to expose the eyes to natural sunlight upon waking. This can be as simple as opening up the curtains or blinds to let in the morning light, or in the winter months going outside when the sun comes out.
The next key to a healthy morning routine is to eat breakfast, even if it’s a small bowl of cereal. The key is to refuel and rehydrate the body so it’s best equipped to handle the mental and physical demands of the upcoming day.
Setting a morning routine that consists of these simple steps — waking at the same time, exposing the eyes to morning sunlight, and eating breakfast — establishes predictability for the mind-body which can ease anxiety, stabilize mood, and foster steady focus and concentration.
2) Establish family dinner time without distractions.
Family dinners seem almost quaint in the post COVID world. We perhaps had too much “family time” during COVID and the family dinner dissolved along with other routines and habits. In some cases, the family dinner may have never feasible with the busy schedules of parents and kids. As simple as it sounds, establishing a family dinner ritual can have profound effects on your child’s mental, emotional, and physical health.
Let’s first explore what “family dinner” means. In short, it means all members of a family agree to sit around the table to share a meal without the distractions of phones, TVs, or books. It is intended to be a sacred time to enjoy food and the presence of one another.
When we carve out time to eat as a family, it nurtures and strengthens bonds. We parents have an opportunity to engage our children in conversation and give our full attention. We are able to touch base and cultivate togetherness, which fosters a sense of belonging, boosts self-esteem, and eases anxiety and depression.
Family dinners can take on their own ritualistic pattern, such as having a conversation theme night, playing round robin around the table with discussion topics, practicing the rose, bud, thorn activity (where each member shares a positive event from the day (rose), something they’re excited about (bud), and something that was disappointing (thorn)).
I encourage you not to aim for perfection. There will be times when schedules don’t align. Shoot for 80% of the time to convene as a family for dinner.
[Related: Intention: It Will Make You Think AND Act!]
3) Prioritize sleep.
Children need their sleep, particularly teens and tweens. These are high growth years, and sleep is the time when the body heals, repairs, regenerates, and grows. Teaching our children to prioritize sleep is a gift of a lifetime.
According to the CDC, teens and tweens that get 9–10 hours of consistent high quality sleep experience better academic performance, fewer health issues, and increased concentration and focus at school. Going to bed a roughly the same time each night, turning off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed, and eliminating disruptive noise, light, and environmental distractions are some ways to foster healthy sleep habits among teen and tweens.
One of the best ways to support healthy sleep habits in our children is to model them ourselves. Use this as an opportunity to incorporate healthy evening routines that the whole family can benefit from, such as dark blinds to block out light, a cool home temperature of 66–68 degrees at night, as well as screen-free bedrooms. Restorative sleep will support your child’s physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being.
As we teach our teens and tweens to prioritize their health and well-being, we must also model it for ourselves by prioritizing our own self-care practices. As we encourage our kids to embrace habits that holistically support their overall health and well-being, be sure you’re doing it for yourself, too.
These simple habits and routines are an investment in your teens’ and tweens’ future that will support, balance, and nourish their mental, emotional, and physical heath and set them up for success at they pass into adulthood.
Ashley Logan is the founder of Ashley Logan Wellness, LLC, an integrative health coaching practice guiding professional women to create actionable strategies to support their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Connect with her here.