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Put The Oxygen Mask On First: 3 Tips for Self-Care For Teenagers

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I'm embarrassed to admit I tune out flight attendants when I take an airplane trip. Those moments they explain the emergency protocols are times I zone out and put on the AirPods. I should turn down the music and listen the next time they explain how to handle the oxygen mask in case of an emergency.

I should do that because flight attendants are highlighting a very important principle in life. When one takes an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to “put your oxygen mask on first,” before putting it on someone else, even your young child. Why?

Because if you don't have enough oxygen, you can't help your child or partner with their oxygen. You are no good to others if you are not first good for yourself.

Self-care is a prioritization of oneself for the sake of something outside oneself. This applies to adults as well as teenagers.

Parents sometimes complain that teens do not think of anyone but themselves and can be selfish. Selfishness is not the same as self-care. Selfishness is an unhealthy focus on oneself at the expense of others. Self-care is a healthy focus on oneself for the benefit of others.

Three Ways To Practice Self-Care

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There are a variety of ways that we can practice self care. Below we list 3 ways to practice self care that we have found to make a big difference in a teen's life.

1. Exercise

The foundation of mental health is a healthy body. It's difficult to manage anxiety or depression with little to no exercise.

Exercise can take many different forms. You can develop a healthy exercise routine without running a 5K.

The key is to engage in frequent movement throughout the day. The human psyche was not designed for a sedentary life. Teens can exercise walking the dog in the evenings. They can swim. A teenager can move around in a dance class or Tae Kwon Do.

2. Sleep

Teens need lots of sleep. According to Dr. Michael Crocetti, Chief of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Medicine, teens need 9 to 9/12 hours of sleep each night. Teens need more sleep than younger preteens because teens are going through a second developmental stage of cognitive maturation.

Good sleep encourages brain and body development. It also protects teens from severe depression and anxiety.

If a teen is getting poor sleep, this will have a domino effect in their life. Their physical and mental health will suffer. With poor sleep, teens are set up to struggle in their academics and social life.

Work with your teen to help them see the importance of sleep. Something that seems so natural and inconsequential can have a massive impact on their life.

Sleep as self-care looks like sacrificing many things to focus on getting a good night sleep. With quality sleep, your teen will be the best version of themselves for others.

3. Therapy

Second to sleep, teen therapy may be the most important form of self-care. The etymology of psychotherapy comes from two Greek words, "psyche" and "therapia".

Psyche is the word for soul or "self". Therapia means "to care" or attend to something. Therapy is a means of care for the self.

Teens benefit from a safe place to discuss their struggles. In teen counseling, a teenager can learn coping strategies that will help them manage their anxiety. A teen can explore behavioral changes that will improve their depression.

Teen Therapy helps teens stay accountable to their best values. The more a teen focuses on getting stronger, the greater impact they'll have on the world around them.

Katy Teen & Family Counseling: 50+ Years of Combined Experience in Teen Therapy in Katy, Texas & Houston

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At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we specialize in providing teen counseling for teen anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, school anxiety, depression, ADHD/ADD and other emotional or behavioral struggles.

Our teen therapists can help your teen and family restore hope, happiness, & connected family relationships.

If you are ready to start your healing journey with one of our teen therapists, you can follow these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC.

  2. Meet with one of our caring therapists specializing in teen therapy.

  3. Take that first step in restoring hope, happiness, and connected family relationships.

Other Teen Therapy, Family Counseling, & Young Adult Therapy Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling

At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide other counseling and therapeutic services such as Marriage counseling and couples therapy. Often, when parenting a struggling teen, this can have a direct impact on the parents relationship. Our marriage counselors and couples therapists can help.

We also provide other counseling and therapeutic services for teens, young adults, & families at our Katy, Tx location:

Board Certified Neurofeedback

Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)

Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

About the Author

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Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Quique specializes in teen therapy and helping teens build upon their innate strengths while developing skills and tools to overcome depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, and more.

Quique views each individual through that lens and provides therapy for the family system which includes: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.

Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If you're ready to start your healing journey in teen therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at

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