By Lily V, Yi Ling T and Hermione TG

Photo taken by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

Are you aware of your health? Some teenagers aren’t very aware of their own health and well-being  and their dietary needs. Teenagers sometimes aren’t aware if they are suffering from chronic stress, anxiety or depression, and they aren’t aware about their sugar, fat and salt intake.

Healthy Eating

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It is important for teenagers to have a healthy diet so they can continue to grow successfully. Healthy foods can help with organ and tissue development. Many teenagers underestimate the amount of hidden sugars inside foods. Sugar has a large impact on teenager’s health. The recommended amount of sugar for an adult is 25 grams. That isn’t a lot. The amount of sugar piles up through out the day when you eat lots of food. If a food is claimed to be “low sugar” then it must contain less than 5 grams of sugar per 100 grams. Sugar can rot away your teeth and can lead the heart diseases later on in life. To cut down on sugar, you should be checking the food and drink packaging. If the food or drink has more than 22.5 grams of sugar then it is considered to be high in sugar.

It isn’t only sugar that is over eaten; fats are too. However, small amounts of fat are good for you. They help with thermo-regulation (keeping warm in the cold), protection of internal organs and the uptake of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. There are three main types of fat: unsaturated, saturated and trans. Most unsaturated fats are good for you and saturated are bad for you in excess. Trans fats are terrible for you and can be found in lots of sweet things like pancake mix. In excess fats can clog up your arteries and cause heart diseases.

A healthy diet includes: meals based on carbohydrates, five portions of fruit each day and 6-8 cups of water.

Stress and Anxiety

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Many teenagers nowadays suffer from anxiety, stress and depression; up to 25% of teens are suffering from anxiety and are unaware, and 20% of teenagers suffer from depression before adulthood. Stress is part of everyday life, but too much stress can lead to chronic stress, which is not good for your mental or physical health as it can lead to: anxiety, depression, negative thoughts and feeling overwhelmed. 30% of teenagers are depressed as a result of stress. There are many reasons that teenage stress occurs, such as peer pressure, academic stress (56% of students consider homework a primary source of stress) and parental pressure. Stress can also have a negative impact on somebody’s self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the way someone feels about their self-worth, and how confident they are about themselves. How low or high your self-esteem is impacts your body image; body image is the way someone sees themselves, it is not necessarily what other people see. Body image is mostly influenced by social media, by seeing unrealistic body goals, that push teenagers to unhealthy behaviour. 94% of teenagers think that the way they look affects their popularity. Negative body image can cause low self esteem, anxiety, depression and social withdrawal. But how do we help?

Mental Wellbeing

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Low self-esteem is one of the worst things a teenager can experience. It can make you feel negatively about yourself, and can lead to constant feelings of sadness, guilt and anger. Low self-esteem can lead to negative body image, and that can lead to unhealthy eating disorders, anxiety, depression and other mental disorders.

What causes low self esteem? There are many causes of low self esteem: anxiety, trauma, negative body image, social media, stressful life events, bullying or difficulty making friends.

However, there are some ways to help low self esteem, such as learn to accept compliments and feedback, list your accomplishments, master a new skill, make a note of compliments people have said to you, do something creative, help someone, surround yourself with the right people, get to know yourself and finally, don’t compare yourself to other people online or in person.

Social Media

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Social media has a great impact on young teenager’s mental health. 90% of the teenagers between the age of 13-17 use social media, and 92% of the teenagers visit a social media site at least once a day.

Social media can socialise connections between peers it can begin to create depression and anxiety, which leads to a bad mental health. Not only can the stress harm teenager’s mental wellbeing, but it can also cause the dangerous risk of oversharing personal details and information. Nowadays, people spend too much time on social media and trying to ‘perfect’ their body image to impress their online followers. This is why teenagers are missing quality time interacting with others physically, like playing outside. Teenagers are also loosing sleep quality because of using too much of their precious time on the Internet and social media.

One of the most harmful actions that cause isolation and loneliness is: cyber-bullying. This decreases a person’s self-esteem and their confidence of their personal body image. 60% of young people have witnessed online bullying; 37% of teenagers from the age of 12 to 17 have reported on being cyber-bullied online; 30% have been bullied more than once. This makes people feel insecure of themselves and may become more envious when comparing themselves with other people online. 

School counsellors

One way of coping with anxiety and problems with social media is meeting your school counsellor. School counsellors can help you think through your problems and help with your peer relationships at school. They do this by asking about your own point of view about the situation or problem, and advise you about your actions and thoughts. They can also help with your personal difficulties, concerns, worries and challenges that you need advice and help with if it is private and uncomfortable to talk to other students. If a student has recently been experiencing depressing trauma from personal reasons, it is a encouraging idea to visit the school counsellor.

If you are about to take your school exams, the school counsellor can help you make your final decisions and help you develop useful learning habits or techniques. They can also help with time management, accidents or any violence that is witnessed at school. They can help you if are having trouble with finding your strengths, weaknesses and talents. You can also increase your self esteem and confidence in yourself when facing a bully. School counsellors will provide comfort and therapy.

How can teens change to be more healthy?

To improve your diet, you should eat more fruits and vegetables.  They can also try to increase their intake of whole wheat or whole grain food. Make sure that you are having enough to drink everyday. Mentally, teenagers can try and relax. By talking to a trustworthy adult they can be helped by someone professional.

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