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5 Simple Self-Care Tips for Students

Self-care as a concept is familiar to many of us. As adults, we know that it’s important to take care of ourselves mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally. But what about our kids? Do they understand the importance of self-care or how to build it into their lives? Back-to-school season is a good time to help our kids adopt a self-care plan, so they can use it throughout the school year (and their whole lives).

Encouraging good self-care habits in your kids not only teaches them how to take care of themselves, but it also shows them it’s valuable to invest in doing so. Routine self-care in children is linked to many benefits including: improved mental health, greater empathy, better self-awareness, enhanced concentration, increased self-esteem and greater overall happiness.

In simple terms, self-care means setting aside time to attend to our own wellbeing. For kids, self-care activities can include anything from listening to music, to drawing a picture, to playing with friends. The possibilities are limitless and will be different for each kid. That’s important, because an activity that one child finds calming, might be stress-inducing for another one. That’s totally okay, and could actually make for some fun, exploratory conversations around your kids’ preferences and interests. What makes them feel good about themselves, what makes them feel calm, what helps them feel energized? It’s a great idea to get your child involved in the planning. After all, when a child contributes to their self-care routine, they’re more likely to follow it.

Consider how you and your child can prioritize self-care this year. One or two small practices a week is a great start. Looking for ideas to get the conversation started? Consider, along with your child. whether any of these self-care practices are of interest:

1. Get crafty

If your kid likes being creative, have a sketchpad and markers, a paint set or bracelet-making materials available to them. They can draw or paint something that happened that day, or work on a collection of bracelets to share with family and friends. Keep the materials in a specific place where they’re always available when they feel like using them.

so they know they will always be there if they’d like to use them.

2. Get physical

Try to schedule an enjoyable physical activity into your child’s weekly routine. It could be an organized sport, skipping, a walk or just climbing a tree. The simple act of moving their bodies is excellent self-care.

3. Volunteer

Helping others is good for our social, emotional, and spiritual wellness. Is there a food drive the family can donate to? An elderly neighbour they can help by taking out their garbage? Or a shelter they can collect clothing or school supplies for?

4. Breathe

Deep breathing can be incredibly beneficial in reducing stress levels, relaxing muscles and reducing feelings of overwhelm, even for children. There are many fun and easy breathing exercises for kids. For instance they can imagine they are smelling a flower, blowing out candles on a birthday cake or blowing bubbles.

5. Cherish the quiet time

School and afterschool activities can be intensely stressful for some children. They are required to stay still and quiet for long periods, keeping their mind focused. At the end of the day, they likely need to decompress. Do this by scheduling some dedicated quiet time—where no activities are planned—can help them reflect, relax, unwind and rest.

Finally, don’t forget to practice your own self-care as a parent. Not only is it beneficial for your own health and wellness, but remember that your children are watching and learning from you. When they see you prioritizing healthy habits, they’ll be more likely to choose healthy habits themselves.

Emily Atkinson is a registered social worker and psychotherapist, specializing in individual and family therapy at our clinic.

Your Therapy is a safe, welcoming counselling therapy practice in the Greater Toronto Area. Thanks for reading and, as always, please feel free to reach out with questions about talk therapy or other mental health issues. We offer mental health therapy and more.

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