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Encouraging a Depressed Teenager to Begin Healthy Habits

Encouraging a Depressed Teenager to Begin Healthy Habits

Developing healthy habits is beneficial to an individual’s well-being, especially an adolescent battling depression. As adolescents strive to make sense of their complex depression, establishing and creating a healthy habit routine is important. Healthy habits work in alleviating depression symptoms, reminding your teen that they are in charge of their recovery.

As a parent, you must support your teen through recovery by encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Several ways to help them include promoting a nutritious diet, encouraging regular exercis, and ensuring they get enough sleep. This article will discuss the benefits of healthy habits and tips and tricks to get your teen accustomed to a healthy routine.

Tips to Make Healthy Eating Enjoyable

Diet plays a significant role in brain health. The foods you consume contain essential minerals and nutrients like Omega-3 and Vitamins B6 and B12, which are needed for optimal brain functioning. Minerals like zinc and magnesium are also responsible for synthesizing and regulating neurotransmitter hormones like serotonin and dopamine.

The hormone serotonin influences many activities in the body, including happiness, hunger, sexual drive, and sleep patterns. A deficit of the hormone has been reported to cause several health effects, including anxiety and depression. About 95% of the serotonin produced originates from the gut. For smooth functioning and a healthy gut, probiotics, also known as good bacteria, are needed; therefore, an intake of nutritious foods will ensure your good bacteria is at maximum levels.

However, diets rich in refined sugar and unhealthy fats have been linked to mood disorders and heightened feelings of depression and anxiety. A high-sugar diet can also cause chronic inflammation, which may lead to decreased cognitive abilities. Next time you need something sweet for your anxiety, consider engaging in healthier sugar options like fruits, honey, or molasses.

Healthy Eating Tips

Changing your dietary habits can be a slow, painful experience. It is usually easier said and done as several healthy eating options are online. Sifting through each and deciding your go-to approach can be tough, leaving you more confused than relieved. However, here are some tips to help your teen maintain a healthy diet:

  • Plan your meals: Meal planning is an efficient way to ensure your teen doesn’t opt out of your healthy eating options.
  • Eat whole foods: Prioritize fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fruits.
  • Portion control: Use smaller bowls and plates to prevent over eating
  • Hydrate: Consider drinking eight-ounce glasses of water daily. 
  • Incorporate variety: Keep meals interesting by experimenting with different food groups, new flavours, and recipes.
  • Practice mindful eating: Pay attention to your body and the foods it enjoys. Staying mindful can also help you understand your body’s hunger and satiety levels, preventing you from overindulging.
  • Have a solid support system: Surround yourself with friends or family to keep you accountable. They can also provide the support and encouragement you need when you feel like quitting the healthy dieting journey.
  • Minimize your saturated and processed fat intake.

Involving Teens in Meal Planning

Getting your teen to eat healthy may not be easy as they prefer their autonomy. According to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA), American teens consume more calories from unprocessed food. The good news, however, is that involving your teen in meal planning is one of the best resolutions to teach them the benefits of healthy eating. Some of the ways to include your teen in meal planning are:

  • Collaborate in meal planning: Involving your teen in researching different flavours and recipes allows them to experiment with various cuisines and tastes. They can also add some of their favourite foods as motivation to stick with the meal plan.
  • Go grocery shopping together: Use shopping time to teach your teen how to choose fresh produce, compare dietary labels, and understand nutritional nutrients.
  • Cooking together: Scheduling regular cooking sessions is a perfect way to bond with your teen. Preparing meals together makes them feel responsible for their meal plan and dietary choices.
  • Celebrate milestones: Recognize and celebrate your teenagers’ efforts in following and sticking to the agreed meal plan.

Tips To Encourage Depressed Teen For Regular Exercise

Exercise has many benefits for an individual’s mental health. Frequent exercise reduces depression symptoms and can also help treat anxiety. Physical activities increase the production of endorphins, a feel-good hormone responsible for alleviating pain, improving mood, and enhancing overall body wellness. Exercise can also be a good stress reliever; it helps you feel confident and build your self-worth.

You can encourage your teen to engage in regular exercise by integrating the following steps:

  • Find enjoyable activities: Encourage your teen to experiment with various physical activities they enjoy; creative and fun activities will feel less like a chore and encourage participation. 
  • Goal setting: Help your teen to set realistic and achievable fitness goals. You can also motivate them to build their endurance slowly, one step at a time. Celebrating your teenager’s achievement is a good way to build more confidence and motivate them to work harder.
  • Creating a support system: You can support your teen by offering to do the activities together or being their accountability partner. Pushing them to peer fitness groups is also a good way to foster a sense of belonging and unity.
  • Integrating routine: Schedule regular workout sessions for your teenager. Making a habit of exercising helps your teenager easily acclimate to staying active.
  • Monitor progress: Monitor your teenager’s progress and do not fail to reward them when they achieve significant milestones.

Tips For Establishing a Healthy Sleep Routine for Adolescent

Getting a good night’s sleep is beneficial for good mental health. It is just as important as regularly exercising and prioritizing a healthy diet. Sleep duration varies from individual to individual and is influenced by several factors. Research, however, shows that teenagers aged 13- 18 should regularly sleep for 8 to 10 hours.

Adequate sleep encourages efficient brain functioning, such as increased cognitive functions. During sleep, the brain repairs itself, combining memories and removing build-up toxins. It also goes through various maintenance processes vital for the body’s normal functioning.

Lack of enough sleep can be a sign of mental health problems like depression. Inadequate sleep can lead to irritability and inability to handle stress. Sleep-deprived people are also susceptible to poor eating habits and the inability to work out or socially interact with others.

There are several ways to instill a healthy sleep routine in your depressed teen. 

  • Consistent bedtime: Encourage your adolescent to go to bed and wake up simultaneously every day. Regular sleep times help boost immune systems, improve mood and program the body’s clock to get accustomed to the routine.
  • Bedroom setup: Use warm, appealing colours, reduce light, and set the temperatures to the optimum. You can also encourage your teenagers to use soothing music for full sleep.
  • Avoid stimulants before bedtime: Discourage your teens from consuming caffeine or sugar before their bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and will likely keep them up at night. Instead of stimulants, encourage caffeine-free drinks.
  • Limit screen time: Encourage teenagers to avoid using electronics right before bedtime. The blue light emitted from electronic devices affects melatonin production and the body’s circadian rhythm.
  • Encourage regular exercise: Regular exercise promotes quality sleep and encourages your teen to work out consistently.

Tips For Fostering Social Interactions and Relationships

Spending time with friends, loved ones, or family has benefits for the mental and emotional well-being of a teenager grappling with depression. Socializing is very important as interacting with other people helps curb loneliness, one of the symptoms of depression.

Socializing also enables you to build support systems and healthy environments that encourage sharing your struggles, progress, and milestones. Another benefit of socializing is that it can improve cognitive skills essential for better, happier, and more fulfilled lives.

There are several ways to encourage your teenagers struggling with depression to interact with others.

Encouraging Social Activities

Encourage your teenager to engage in social activities they enjoy. It does not have to be done in a big group setting; they can start small and expand when they feel comfortable. You can also encourage your teen to join clubs or volunteer. As your teen steps out of their comfort zone to socialize with others, motivate and be patient with them. Listen to their needs and concerns on socializing with others and make necessary adjustments where they deem fit.

Building Supportive Friendships

Healthy communications thrive on trust, communication, and understanding; encourage your teen to practice and seek such qualities in their friends. You can also encourage your teen to maintain existing friendship circles. Additionally, teach your teen to set healthy boundaries and speak up when the boundaries are violated.

Encouraging Engagement in Hobbies and Interests

Doing activities that make you happy positively affects your mental health. People love different things; some prefer swimming, skating or board games. Encouraging a depressed teenager to take up a hobby is a good way to keep them busy and distract them from negative thoughts. There are different ways to encourage your teen to take up a hobby.

Exploring New Interests

Encourage your teenager to explore different hobbies and activities. You may suggest trying other clubs and workshops or indulging in activities like art, music, sport or gardening. One of the ways to find new hobbies is to attend events and meet different people from different backgrounds. Through events and meetups, your teenager can share ideas with other people and eventually settle on a new interest.

Integrating Hobbies into Daily Life

Help your teenagers integrate hobbies into their schedule by establishing a consistent routine. One of the ways to stay consistent is to set alarms and reminders and ensure they follow through with it. Sticking with hobbies is easy When you make them an integral part of your life.

Tips To Cultivate a Positive Attitude Towards Life

Positive thinking is the practice of always focusing on the good things. Thinking positively does not cancel negative thoughts; there will be some occasionally. However, you have to choose to think only about the good and uplifting things. A positive mindset can significantly improve the mental health of a depressed teenager. It can lower stress levels, lower the symptoms of depression, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Positive thinking can also help your teenager to develop coping skills and manage their stress levels.

Practicing Gratitude and Mindfulness

There are many ways to practice gratitude in your day-to-day life. Encourage your teenager to have a gratitude journal where they write everything they are grateful for, despite how insignificant it is. Simply writing down what they are thankful for opens doors for appreciating all they have. You can also encourage your teen to practice mindfulness through meditation, breathing exercises, or walking in nature.

Challenging Negative Thoughts

The best way to challenge negative thoughts is to be aware of your thinking patterns. Challenge your teenager to take captive all their negative thoughts and reframe them into positive thoughts. Encourage them to practice compassion, talk with them kindly about teen depression, and remind them they are enough.

When your depressed teenager incorporates these simple yet effective strategies in your daily routines, your mental health will take a turn for the better. Gradually, they will focus only on the positives, eventually leading to improved mental health and greater well-being.

Nexus Teen Academy's Support in Building Healthy Habits

At Nexus Teen Academy, we offer a range of activities tailored to your teen’s specific mental health needs. Our programs focus on holistic healing, addressing your teenager’s physical, emotional, and spiritual concerns. From therapeutic modalities to healthy lifestyle habits, our licensed and experienced professionals are on standby to provide you and your teen with the guidance you need.

In addition to supporting your teen’s mental health, we also have parental resources. At Nexus Teen Academy, we offer workshops that equip parents with the necessary insight for their teens’ well-being. Some of the topics covered in these workshops include adolescent development and supporting your teen through depression recovery. We also touch on ways and tips to instill healthy lifestyle habits in your adolescent. We believe that by empowering parents with the relevant knowledge, we can contribute to a healthy society. For more details, contact us for guidance on your teen’s mental health needs.


Fostering healthy living habits is essential in promoting the overall well-being of a depressed teenager. As a parent, you are your teen’s integral support system. You are responsible for encouraging them to eat healthily, sleep well, exercise often, and practice mindfulness. 

At Nexus Teen Academy, we recognize the importance of addressing diet, exercise, and sleep as integral components of mental health care for teens. By providing tailored programs, resources, and educational workshops for parents, we aim to empower teens and their support networks to cultivate sustainable lifestyle changes. Ready to start a healthy lifestyle plan for your teen? Contact us; together, we can navigate the challenges of adolescence and foster a brighter future for our teens.

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