How teens can build healthy habits: teen advisers weigh in

Being a teenager isn’t easy. There’s academic pressure, hormones, and college applications to juggle. While it’s important to seek advice from trusted adults, sometimes as a teenager you just want to hear straight from other teens.

Here, CHOC’s teen advisers share their best tips for building and maintaining habits that help them lead their healthiest lives. Read on for their advice on staying organized, staying healthy and more.

Heather, age 15

Over the last few years, I have learned a lot of ways to avoid procrastination. Each morning, I like to sit down and think of everything I need to accomplish that day, and I plan out when I am going to do it all. One of my favorite things is the reminders app in my phone; I use it all the time and it gives me a good idea of when I need to get things done and how long I have to do them.

Whenever I want to complete any nutrition goal, I find a friend who wants to do it with me. For example, my friend and I are both trying to give up soda. I always find myself not drinking enough water, and to drink more I will set reminders in my phone and I always try to bring an insulated water bottle to school every day. By working towards a goal with a friend (in this case, no soda), it’s easier to achieve.

Adopting healthy habits as a teenager is very important because behavior as a teen is laying the foundation for behavior as an adult. My friends and I constantly encourage each other to make good decisions and live healthier lifestyles. We often talk about eating healthier, or help each other clean our rooms, or complete goals together, like quitting soda.

Zoe, age 14

For me, getting involved with sports has helped me make progress towards leading an overall healthier lifestyle.

Going into high school, I never pictured myself getting into sports because until very recently, I haven’t been much of an athlete. Outside of the mandatory physical education classes, my exercise was limited to karate twice a week. I couldn’t tell you how I got into wrestling a few months ago, I never imagined being a part of a sports team― let alone a varsity letterman― but here I am, and I’ve never felt better. My parents have always encouraged me to be active, but wrestling takes this to a whole new level. I went from working out for an hour two days a week to working out three hours five days a week.

My journey has proven that you don’t have to be a born and raised athlete to compete in sports. I didn’t grow up wrestling, but I took a leap of faith and I haven’t looked back since.

Along with the sport, I learned how to take care of myself physically. For example, I learned that if I didn’t eat healthy food before practice, I would feel terrible during and after, so eating right just fell into place. The same thing applied to drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. Because I’m growing, I realize that these things are vital now more than ever, for the sake of my development and my overall well-being.

Workouts may seem daunting, especially if you’re as busy like me, but if you set aside a little time each day to do something healthy, you’ll see how much happier you are throughout the day.

Carina, age 16

One healthy habit I’ve implemented in my daily routine is to stay hydrated. While the saying “stay hydrated” is often overused on social media today, I’ve realized that the positive effects it has on your overall health play a significant impact on how you feel throughout your day. After drinking the recommended amount of water per day, I feel energized and more awake than if I was dehydrated. Since I have to wake up very early for school, drinking water has made me more inclined to work in class and keep me full of energy until my practice starts at the end of the day.

Friends are a great support system while adopting a new healthy habit. To make sure that you stick with your change, you can start your new journey with your friends and help each other through the process. This way, rather than attempting to go through a lifestyle change by yourself, there is someone to talk to and encourage each other while pursuing this new habit.

Layla, age 13

The hardest part of creating habits is starting them, or sometimes, breaking old ones. I love sharing my tips and tricks on healthy habits.

My habits are built off my schedule in the day. I wake up early to get to school on time, and I always eat breakfast, even if it is just an apple or granola bar. There is a reason that breakfast is called the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast gets your mind and body ready to take on the day.  I study hard in school and socialize with my friends. After school, I have volleyball practice, or other after school activities. When I get home, I finish my homework, and then I go to bed. My routine may be strict, but it helps me develop good habits.

It’s important to remember that no one is perfect.  When trying to make improvements to my routine, I try to focus on getting rid of one bad habit at a time. Right now, I am trying to read more. I love reading, but I feel like I never have the time anymore. So, I am using some of my phone time to read and relax. I already love being able to read again, and it inspires me to take on more of my bad habits.

Creating good habits as a teenager is good for responsibilities later on in life. If we keep pushing away responsibilities and saying that we’ll get to them later, we build bad habits for adulthood. Our brains develop the most at childhood and during adolescence, and if we become responsible now, it will be so much easier to live like this as we get older.

My friends have been a great support system in When my friends remind me of what I need to do, it helps me prioritize what’s on my plate. Sometimes, I’ll say that I won’t study for my test, and that I think I know the material enough. My friends will look at me and say, “You’re gonna regret that, Layla.” Having good friends to help keep me accountable is important.

Finding a system that works for you is important in building good, healthy habits. Good habits can be very difficult to develop and maintain, but when your put in the work, you will become used to the routine, and develop a good system in getting things done.

Sanam, age 16

I do a few different things to help stay healthy. I play a sport at my high school, which helps me stay in shape. I always take water with me wherever I go because sometimes when our brains tell us that we’re hungry, we’re thirsty. This keeps me full and hydrated. Plus, drinking enough water helps maintain healthy and clear skin.

Whenever I’m stressed, I check in with myself and do what makes me happy. That could be watching my favorite TV show or spending time with family. I also choose to work out when I’m stressed because it keeps me busy and healthy.

As teens, it’s important for us to take on healthier lifestyles right now because this is the age where are brains are still developing and we can cement our healthy habits.

My friends and I always talk about how we must stay healthy. They support me, and I support them. We’ve made our own plan to start eating healthier and working out together.

Focus on your health over meeting a certain ideal. Listen to your body and yourself and talk to your doctor. Don’t force yourself to go on diets or do extreme workouts you can’t handle. Looks aren’t what matter. It’s all about self-care and self-love. Don’t just listen to others; listen to your body and do what’s best for you.

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