12 Healthy Habits for Teens to Maintain Their Mental Wellness

Building healthy adolescent habits is a great skill to invest in for their development. Teenagers are in the prime stage of creating their lifestyles and foundation for the future. 

A healthy wellness routine cannot be understated. Creating these habits as a teen makes it easier to follow through with them as adults. 

Healthy Food

Teens have probably heard before from parents that eating healthy is important. Food is our number one energy source. 

Ensuring teens eat enough lean protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals supports brain development. Foods high in saturated fats, processed sugars, and sodium should be avoided. They can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and  diabetes.

Diet can depend on a teens age, sex, height, weight, and how much exercise they get. Teens may have a higher appetite from growth spurts. Sometimes it is less about how much food they eat than the quality. 

Of course, we all splurge sometimes, and teens should be able to have days where they indulge. But in general, building healthy food habits is one of the most important parts of wellness and feeling their best. 

Move Everyday 

Exercise decreases the risk of several chronic health problems, and can prevent symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. 

Exercise does not have to be rigorous. Not everyone enjoys going to the gym and following a high-intensity workout. The most important part of exercise is getting the heart pumping and blood flowing, this may look different for everyone depending on age, sex, height, weight, and diet. 

30 minutes of movement a day is ideal for teens. Encourage your teen to find an activity they enjoy. Some ideas include: 

  • Dance
  • Yoga
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Kayaking 
  • Swimming
  • Skating 
  • Walking or jogging 

Get Good Quality Sleep 

Think of the brain as a machine, sleeping is like charging the battery. During sleep the body and brain refuel themselves, while also cleaning out toxins that build up during the day. 

On average, teens should get 8-10 hours of sleep for proper development. This should be good quality sleep (sleeping through the night and waking up feeling refreshed).

Lack of sufficient sleep can lead to several mental health problems, chronic health diseases, trouble making decisions, lowered academic performance and more. Some tips teens can follow to build a healthy sleep routine include: 

  • Try to go to sleep around the same time every night
  • Create a calm and cool environment 
  • Use your bed for sleep only 
  • Limit sugary foods, intense exercise and screen time 1-2 hours before bedtime 

Manage Stress 

Stress is part of life, and managing it can lead to good health. Academic pressure, navigating personal identity, and social life can all be large stressors for teens. 

Mindfulness based strategies teach teens to be aware of their stress and stay calm to let negative thoughts and feelings pass. Some healthy techniques for teens to manage stress include: 

  • Journaling
  • Listening to music
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing 

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, can increase blood flow to the cerebral cortex, improving memory, decision-making, sensory perception, and emotional wellness. 

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol 

Drug and alcohol abuse as a teen stunts brain development. Some teens begin using drugs and alcohol to  cope with stress, anxiety or depression. While it can feel good in the moment, it can worsen these problems and lead to long-lasting damage. 

Build Healthy Relationships

Building healthy relationships is a skill that even many adults lack. Learning to form connections, develop boundaries and recognize unhealthy relationships is important for teens. This skill can help them avoid staying in toxic relationships and environments. 


Self-love is an underrated skill that can boost self-esteem and confidence. Teenagers should learn to have positive self-talk and allow themselves to make mistakes. Parents can support this by modeling this around the home. 

Personal Hygiene 

Another way to practice self-love is developing and following personal hygiene routines. As teens go through puberty their body is going through new changes that can sometimes make them feel insecure. Developing healthy personal hygiene can increase confidence and self-esteem. Parents can support this by teaching their teens about: 

  • Body odor (showers and deodorant)
  • Dental hygiene (brushing teeth 2x a day, flossing, using mouthwash)
  • Shaving (how to use a razor safely) 
  • Safe and open conversation about hormones, the menstrual cycle and sex 

Find Passions 

The teen years are a great time to explore passions and develop new skills. This can help increase social engagement, boost self-esteem and form connections. 

Be Mindful of Screen Time 

Social media or video games can be a great way for teens to unwind or connect with others. However, it is important to set limits. 

Too much screen time can lead to problems in development such as decrease in focus, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Screen time can also cause sore eyes, headaches, and neck pain, known as “tech neck.” Teens should limit screen time to about 2-3 hours per day and avoid it for 1-2 hours before bedtime. 

Spend Time With Loved Ones 

Isolation can be normal for teens. Having alone time is not a bad thing, however, if you find your teen is constantly socially withdrawing, it may be an underlying sign of a mental health problem. Encourage your teen to attend events, participate in activities and spend time with friends and family. 

Learn to Manage Time 

Learning to manage time is an asset because time is an investment. Building a balanced schedule for school, friends, family and free time will be extremely helpful as they move into adulthood.