Keeping your body in good condition and staying safe plays a huge part in maintaining your mental wellbeing, physical capability and long-term wellness.
Your teenage years are a great time to experiment and find out who you really are. Your likes and dislikes as well as your strengths and weaknesses. But follow these tips to make sure that you don’t cross a serious line and endanger yourself. Think carefully before trying something new.
Try something new
Some things such as dying your hair, experimenting with make-up, or building muscle in the gym are fairly low-risk activities. But other choices can have lasting consequences, such as tattoos, piercings, smoking, drinking, or taking drugs. For example, you may become addicted to alcohol or drugs, which can negatively affect both your health and finances. Or you may get a tattoo of a design that is no longer in fashion in 20 or 30 years. And when your skin starts to wrinkle and sag as you age, you may deeply regret making that earlier decision. If you do decide to get pierced or tattooed, tell your parents, stay within the law, visit a reputable practitioner, and get a second opinion from someone you trust. As for smoking, drinking, or drugs, think about why you are doing it. Is it for you or to impress someone else?
It’s natural to feel social pressure. Many teens do things because they are expected, rather than what they actually want to do. When you’re finding your way, it can be hard to say no, since you may worry that you’ll lose friends or won’t be considered cool if you do. But It’s far better to live the life that you want than it is to spend all your time satisfying other people. And keep in mind that if others aren’t supportive of your decisions, they’re probably not very good friends in the first place. In fact, you may find that by carving your own path, others will respect you even more and follow your lead.
Out of your control
Perhaps when you look in the mirror you feel negative thoughts for no reason. Or maybe you’re struggling with acne, headaches, or healthy eating. Don’t be afraid to seek help. There’s a wealth of knowledge available from your GP, a parent, or a school nurse or counsellor.
If you do participate in risky behaviours, take basic precautions to protect yourself and your friends. If you’re drinking, limit yourself so you don’t get drunk and never sip on anything from a fridge because you don’t know what’s in it. If you’re at a party, make a pact with a friend and look after each other. Never get into a car with a stranger, or with anyone who is drunk or high, as well as anyone who is texting or looks drowsy – they won’t be safe to drive. And don’t walk home alone in the dark – call a taxi instead.
Written by Victoria Evans and Jane Bianchi of Teen Health Guide, and edited by Dr William Swallow MBChB, DRCOG, MRCGP
© Teen Health Guide Limited