The January blues are a hard time to beat. The fun of Christmas is over, the days are still dark and gloomy and summer seems so far away. All of this on top of the pressure of reinventing yourself that comes around after each New Year, January can be a tough time for everybody, especially our teens. It's already a tumultuous time in their lives, with hormones and school stress and social pressure wreaking havoc.
What is important is that we are there for them. Though they may not react well to it or seem to want it, our support is needed now more than ever. Though they will probably never say it, they will appreciate you looking out for them with these little things that you can do to help them along through this tough time.
It’s definitely harder than usual now to motivate ourselves to get up and get moving. But, your teen needs to get the right amount of exercise to keep their spirits up. Do an online Pilates or yoga class together, or book them a modified HIIT class, whatever strikes their fancy – just get moving!
Go for a walk.
With the cold mornings and evenings taking over, we all shudder at the thought of heading out into the wintry air. But just getting that little bit extra vitamin D from the sunlight and fresh air every day could totally change their whole mood. Good for digestion, energy and sleep, there’s really no excuse not to.
Not in a ‘new year new you’ insane diet overhaul kind of way. Just be conscious of the choices you’re making in relation to the foods you’re choosing to nourish your body and your family’s bodies with. This is not about weight loss or perfect bodies, but much more about brain food, gut food, all the things that are going to make your body feel its best. Have them help out with meal planning, so they have a say in what they’re eating. If they’re major burger and chips fans, maybe some sort of healthier version might pique their interest.
Easier said than done, right? We need 7-9 hours of sleep a night in order to complete 4-5 90-minute sleep cycles. Keeping these cycles uninterrupted is the key to experiencing that ‘good night’s sleep’ feeling. The first step in getting a night’s sleep is regulating your body. It is essential that your body and brain begin to expect a shut-down and wake-up call at the same time every day. Being on a phone or screen late at night is another culprit, a particularly bad habit in teens. Experts recommend reading a book or doing a meditation for at least an hour before bed in order to really get a great, restful sleep.
This one is hard when the weather is colder and they may not feel like heading out to face the elements. Encourage them to meet up with their pals outside of school or even organise a sleepover at your house. This will help them seperate their friendships from school and spend time with their besties outside of the classroom.
Do things you enjoy
If they can get some exercise and complete their schoolwork every day, then they're doing well. But make sure there is time to do the things they want to do too- not necessarily self-improvement things, like that yoga class, or learning a new recipe – unless that’s something they genuinely enjoy. I’m talking about relaxing things. Have them read that book they've wanted to get at for ages, or that trashy Netflix show that requires no thinking whatsoever. Not everything they do has to be productive.
Focus on your strengths
Praise them. Praise yourself. Let them know they’re doing a great job. If you really want to get into it, start a journal together, talking about the things you like about yourselves, your achievements, the things you’ve done well recently. Affirmations are also great ways to get into positive mindsets about ourselves. I am good enough, the work I do is good enough, I am enough. Whatever works for you and your teen.
Have a routine
Let work be work and play be play. There is no need for these two lives to intersect. Set aside certain hours and times in a timetable to be strictly adhered to. When school and study time is over, the books and bags go away and then it is time for food, relaxing activities and family. Make sure to help them create a very clear structure so that they can truly ‘switch off’ and unwind from homework mode.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
January brings with it its own set of pressures. Resolutions, willpower and promises might be crumbling around us right now and that’s okay. Wanted to get up hours earlier than usual to complete an intricate and grueling workout routine, but can barely drag yourself out of bed on time for school or work? That’s okay! There is only so much any of us can do. Find wins in the small things – you made a healthy meal for your family, or got out for a walk today, or finished all your homework. Go you!