Healthy Lifestyle Guidelines for Youth Goal Setting – Prevention Plus Wellness, LLC

The following evidence-informed health behavior recommendations and resources were selected to help substance use prevention and health providers, parents and youth identify specific goals for improving healthy lifestyles of children, adolescents and young adults. 

Healthy lifestyle recommendations were selected from science-based sources and target the following health areas including:

  1. Physical Activity
  2. Health Nutrition
  3. Getting Adequate Sleep
  4. Controlling Stress
  5. Goal Setting
  6. Mental Wellness
  7. Alcohol Use

The following health behavior recommendations are further organized into those appropriate for youth (children and adolescents), and those more relevant to young and even older adults.

We suggest that any goals which are set to improve or increase a wellness-promoting behavior should be coupled with one or more goals to avoid or reduce substance use behaviors, including alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, marijuana, prescription drugs and illicit drugs, that harm healthy lifestyle and positive self-image attainment.

1. Physical Activity

Youth

Children and adolescents ages 6-17 years should have 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.

  1. Aerobic: Most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate- (makes your heart beat faster) or vigorous-intensity (makes you breath fast and heart pound) aerobic physical activity and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week.
  2. Muscle-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening (like climbing or push ups) physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.
  3. Bone-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include bone-strengthening (like jumping or running) physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.

It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety.

Source: CDC Youth Physical Activity Guidelines Toolkit: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/guidelines.htm 

CDC Physical Activity, How Much Physical Activity Do Children Need?: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/index.htm

Young Adults/Adults

Adults need at least:

  1. 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and
  2. muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

or

  1. 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and
  2. muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

or

  1. An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and
  2. muscle-strengthening activitieson 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

10 Minutes at a Time is Fine.

We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not. That’s 2 hours and 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you might spend watching a movie. The good news is that you can spread your activity out during the week, so you don’t have to do it all at once. You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. It’s about what works best for you, as long as you’re doing physical activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time. 

Source: CDC How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need? https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

 

2. Healthy Nutrition

Youth

What is healthy eating?

Eating healthy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and is something that should be taught at a young age. The following are some general guidelines for helping your adolescent eat healthy. It is important to discuss your adolescent’s diet with his or her health care provider before making any dietary changes or placing your adolescent on a diet. Discuss the following healthy eating recommendations with your adolescent to ensure he or she is following a healthy eating plan:

  • Eat 3 meals a day, with healthy snacks.
  • Increase fiber in the diet and decrease the use of salt.
  • Drink water. Try to avoid drinks that are high in sugar. Fruit juice can have a lot of calories, so limit your adolescent’s intake. Whole fruit is always a better choice. 
  • Eat balanced meals.
  • When cooking for your adolescent, try to bake or broil instead of fry.
  • Make sure your adolescent watches (and decreases, if necessary) his or her sugar intake.
  • Eat fruit or vegetables for a snack.
  • Decrease the use of butter and heavy gravies.
  • Eat more chicken and fish. Limit red meat intake, and choose lean cuts when possible.  

Making Healthy Food Choices.

The MyPlate icon is a guideline to help you and your adolescent eat a healthy diet. MyPlate can help you and your adolescent eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat.

The USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have prepared the following food plate to guide parents in selecting foods for children age 2 and older.

The MyPlate icon is divided into 5 food group categories, emphasizing the nutritional intake of the following:

  • Foods that are made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain are grain products. Examples include whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal.
  • Vary your vegetables. Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), and starchy vegetables.
  • Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut up, or pureed.
  • Milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Focus on fat-free or low-fat products, as well as those that are high in calcium.
  • Go lean on protein. Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry. Vary your protein routine—choose more fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans. 

Oils are not a food group, yet some, such as nut oils, contain essential nutrients and can be included in the diet. Others, such as animal fats, are solid and should be avoided.

MyPlate is a reminder to find your healthy eating style and build it throughout your lifetime. Everything you eat and drink matters. The right mix can help you be healthier now and in the future. This means:

  • Focus on variety, amount, and nutrition.
  • Choose foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
  • Start with small changes to build healthier eating styles.
  • Support healthy eating for everyone.

Eating healthy is a journey shaped by many factors, including our stage of life, situations, preferences, access to food, culture, traditions, and the personal decisions we make over time. All your food and beverage choices count. MyPlate offers ideas and tips to help you create a healthier eating style that meets your individual needs and improves your health. 

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine: Healthy Eating During Adolescence: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/pediatrics/healthy_eating_during_adolescence_90,P01610 

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/

Young Adults/Adults

Recommendations:

The Dietary Guidelines’ Key Recommendations for healthy eating patterns should be applied in their entirety, given the interconnected relationship that each dietary component can have with others.

Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level.

A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits:

  • Saturated fats and transfats, added sugars, and sodium

Key Recommendations that are quantitative are provided for several components of the diet that should be limited. These components are of particular public health concern in the United States, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating patterns within calorie limits:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars[2]
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats[3]
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium[4]
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

Source: US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Dietary Guidelines for Americans: https://www.fns.usda.gov/cnpp/dietary-guidelines-americans 

3. Getting Adequate Sleep

Youth

Sleep is food for the brain. During sleep, important body functions and brain activity occur. Skipping sleep can be harmful — even deadly, particularly if you are behind the wheel. You can look bad, you may feel moody, and you perform poorly. Sleepiness can make it hard to get along with your family and friends and hurt your scores on school exams, on the court or on the field. Remember: A brain that is hungry for sleep will get it, even when you don’t expect it. For example, drowsiness and falling asleep at the wheel cause more than 100,000 car crashes every year. When you do not get enough sleep, you are more likely to have an accident, injury and/or illness.

Facts: 

  • Sleep is vital to your well-being, as important as the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. It can even help you to eat better and manage the stress of being a teen.
  • Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence — meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm.
  • Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.
  • Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week — they typically stay up late and sleep in late on the weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep.
  • Many teens suffer from treatable sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.

 Solutions:

  • Make sleep a priority. Review Teen Time in this toolkit and keep a sleep diary. Decide what you need to change to get enough sleep to stay healthy, happy, and smart!
  • Naps can help pick you up and make you work more efficiently, if you plan them right. Naps that are too long or too close to bedtime can interfere with your regular sleep.
  • Make your room a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If you need to, get eyeshades or blackout curtains. Let in bright light in the morning to signal your body to wake up.
  • No pills, vitamins or drinks can replace good sleep. Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can hurt your sleep, so avoid coffee, tea, soda/pop and chocolate late in the day so you can get to sleep at night. Nicotine and alcohol will also interfere with your sleep.
  • When you are sleep deprived, you are as impaired as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%, which is illegal for drivers in many states. Drowsy driving causes over 100,000 crashes each year. Recognize sleep deprivation and call someone else for a ride. Only sleep can save you!
  • Establish a bed and wake-time and stick to it, coming as close as you can on the weekends. A consistent sleep schedule will help you feel less tired since it allows your body to get in sync with its natural patterns. You will find that it’s easier to fall asleep at bedtime with this type of routine.
  • Don’t eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of your bedtime. Don’t leave your homework for the last minute. Try to avoid the TV, computer and telephone in the hour before you go to bed. Stick to quiet, calm activities, and you’ll fall asleep much more easily!
  • If you do the same things every night before you go to sleep, you teach your body the signals that it’s time for bed. Try taking a bath or shower (this will leave you extra time in the morning), or reading a book.
  • Try keeping a diary or to-do list. If you jot notes down before you go to sleep, you’ll be less likely to stay awake worrying or stressing.
  • When you hear your friends talking about their all-nighters, tell them how good you feel after getting enough sleep.
  • Most teens experience changes in their sleep schedules. Their internal body clocks can cause them to fall asleep and wake up later. You can’t change this, but you can participate in interactive activities and classes to help counteract your sleepiness. Make sure your activities at night are calming to counteract your already heightened alertness. 

Source: The National Sleep Foundation, Teens and Sleep: https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep 

Young Adults/Adults

National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Duration Recommendations: 

Age

Recommended

May be appropriate

Not recommended

Newborns

0-3 months

 

14 to 17 hours

11 to 13 hours

18 to 19 hours

Less than 11 hours

More than 19 hours

Infants

4-11 months

 

12 to 15 hours

10 to 11 hours

16 to 18 hours

Less than 10 hours

More than 18 hours

Toddlers

1-2 years

 

11 to 14 hours

9 to 10 hours

15 to 16 hours

Less than 9 hours

More than 16 hours

Preschoolers

3-5 years

 

10 to 13 hours

8 to 9 hours

14 hours

Less than 8 hours

More than 14 hours

School-aged Children

6-13 years

 

9 to 11 hours

7 to 8 hours

12 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 12 hours

Teenagers

14-17 years

 

8 to 10 hours

7 hours

11 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 11 hours

Young Adults

18-25 years

 

7 to 9 hours

6 hours

10 to 11 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 11 hours

Adults

26-64 years

 

7 to 9 hours

6 hours

10 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 10 hours

Older Adults

≥ 65 years

 

7 to 8 hours

5 to 6 hours

9 hours

Less than 5 hours

More than 9 hours

Source: National Sleep Foundation, Recommends New Sleep Times, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times

Habits to Improve Your Sleep.

There are some important habits that can improve your sleep health:

  • Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
  • Avoid tobacco/nicotine.
  • Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.

Source: CDC, Tips for Better Sleep.  https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html

 

4. Controlling Stress

Youth 

Part 1: Tackling the Problem 

Point 1: Identify and Then Address the Problem.

First decide if a problem is a real tiger or just feels like one. If it can’t hurt you, chances are that it can be better handled with clear thinking. This means turning off those thoughts that make you interpret the situation as a disaster.

Three ideas can help you manage a lot of work.

  • Break the work into small pieces. Then do one small piece at a time, rather than look at the whole huge mess. As you finish each piece, the work becomes less overwhelming.
  • Make lists of what you need to do. This will help you sleep because your head won’t spin with worry about whether you can do everything. At the end of the day, you’ll have less to worry about as you check off the things you have finished. You will look at the same huge amount of work and realize you can handle it.
  • Timelines can help with big projects. 

Point 2: Avoid Stress When Possible.

Sometimes we know exactly when we are headed for trouble. Avoiding trouble from a distance is easier than dealing with it up close. You know the people who might be a bad influence on you, the places where you’re likely to get in trouble, and the things that upset you. Choose not to be around those people, places, and things that mess you up. 

Point 3: Let Some Things Go.

It’s important to try to fix problems, but sometimes there is nothing you can do to change a problem. For example, you can’t change the weather, so don’t waste your energy worrying about it. You can’t change the fact that teachers give tests, so just study instead of complaining about how unfair they are. You can’t change the fact that your parents need to know where you go, so prove that you’re responsible and deserve more freedoms. People who waste their energy worrying about things they can’t change don’t have enough energy left over to fix the things they can. Also learn when not to take things personally. You feel badly for no reason when you take something personally that really has little to do with you. 

Part 2: Taking Care of My Body 

Point 4: The Power of Exercise.

Exercise is the most important part of a plan to manage stress. When you are stressed, your body is saying, “Run!” So do it. Exercise every day to control stress and build a strong, healthy body. You may think you don’t have time to exercise when you are most stressed, but that is exactly when you need it the most. If you are stressed about an assignment but too nervous to sit down and study—exercise! You will be able to think better after you have used up those stress hormones. Some people exercise before school so they can focus and learn better. 

Point 5: Active Relaxation.

You can flip the switch from being stressed to relaxed if you know how to fool your body. Because your body can only use the relaxed or emergency nervous system at any one time, you can turn on the relaxed system. You do this by doing the opposite of what your body does when it is stressed. Here are 2 ideas.

  1. Breathe deeply and slowly. Try the 4–8 breathing technique. Lie on your back and place your hands on your belly with your fingers loose. Deep breaths first fill the belly, then the chest, then the mouth; the breath expands the belly and your hands pull gently apart. Take a full breath while counting to 4. Then hold that breath for about twice as long, or an 8 count. Slowly let it out to the count of 8, or even longer if you can. This will relax your body after a few breaths, but just as importantly, it requires your full concentration. Your mind is too focused on breathing to focus on worries. Do this 10 times and you will feel much more relaxed. Yoga, martial arts, and meditation also teach great breathing skills. When you get good at this, you can even do this in a chair during a test and nobody will know. 
  1. Put your body in a relaxed position.
  • Your body knows when you’re nervous. If you sit down to take a test and your legs are shaking, you are saying, “I want to run!” Remember, you can’t concentrate and run at the same time, so you are making it harder to take the test. Instead, take those deep breaths, lean back, and tell your body there is no emergency.
  • When you’re angry, the natural thing to do is stand up and face someone shoulder-to-shoulder and chest-to-chest. You do this without even thinking, but this subconsciously tells the other person that you’re angry and ready to fight. It also may prevent you from thinking clearly. Do the opposite of what you would do if you were really going to fight—sit down, take deep slow breaths, and tell your body there is no danger. Then use your brain to get out of the situation. 

Point 6: Eat Well.

Everyone knows good nutrition makes you healthier. Only some people realize that it also keeps you alert through the day and your mood steady. People who eat mostly junk food have highs and lows in their energy level, which harms their ability to reduce stress. Instead of eating greasy or sugary foods, eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—they keep you focused for a longer time. Go to ChooseMyPlate.gov to learn more. 

Point 7: Sleep Well.

Most kids don’t get the sleep they need to grow and think clearly. Tired people can’t learn as well and can be impatient and irritable. Here are some ideas to improve your sleep.

  • Go to sleep about the same time every night.
  • Exercise 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Your body falls asleep most easily when it has cooled down. If you exercise right before bed, you will be overheated and won’t sleep well. A hot shower 1 hour before bedtime also helps your body relax to fall asleep.
  • Use your bed only to sleep. Don’t solve your problems in bed. When you think about all the things that bother you, you have trouble falling asleep and wake up in the middle of the night to worry more. Instead, have another spot to think, like a worry chair. Give yourself plenty of time to think things through, make a list if you need to, and then set it aside! Go to bed to sleep.
  • Don’t do homework, watch television, read, or use the phone while in bed. 

Part 3: Dealing with Emotions

Point 8: Take Instant Vacations.

Sometimes the best way to de-stress is to take your mind away to a more relaxing place.

  • Have a favorite place where you can imagine yourself relaxing. The place should be beautiful and calm. When you’re stressed, sit down, lean back, take deep breaths, close your eyes, and imagine yourself in your calm place.
  • Take time out for yourself. Everyone deserves time for themselves—a bath or something that allows time to think and de-stress. Try a warm bath with your ears just underwater. Listen to yourself take deep, slow breaths. Take your pulse and count as your heart rate goes down.
  • Enjoy hobbies or creative art as an instant vacation.
  • Look at the beauty around you and get pleasure from the small things you may have stopped noticing.
  • Take mini-vacations. Sometimes we forget that the park around the corner is a great place to hang out. A walk outside can be a mini-vacation if you choose to forget your worries.
  • Reading a good book is an escape from reality. You have to imagine the sights, sounds, and smells—you are somewhere else for a while. 

Point 9: Release Emotional Tension.

Sometimes feelings become so overwhelming that we cram them all away in an imaginary box and think we’ll deal with them later. But later, there’s so much stuff in the box that there is too much to deal with. This can make your head feel as if it is spinning. Sometimes you get angry or frustrated without even knowing why. You just know there is too much stuff going on in your head. It’s good to pick just one problem to work on and forget the rest for the moment. When we decide to deal with only one problem at a time, it’s much less scary to open the box.

Here are some ideas to release your thoughts or worries one at a time.

  • People who have a way to express themselves don’t need to hold it inside. Creative outlets like art, music, poetry, singing, dance, and rap are powerful ways to let your feelings out.
  • Every young person deserves a responsible adult to talk to and some friends to trust. Hopefully, you can talk to your parents. If you do not want to tell your parents everything, make sure to find an adult who’ll listen and whom you can ask for advice.
  • Write it out!
  • Many young people find prayer or meditation helpful.
  • Laughing or crying. Give yourself permission to feel your emotions fully.

Part 4: Making the World Better

Point 10: Contribute to the World.

Young people who work to make the world better have a sense of purpose, feel good about themselves, and handle their own problems better. It’s important to understand that you really can make a difference in other people’s lives. The role of teenagers is to recognize the mistakes adults have made and build a better world.

Source: HealthyChildren.org, For Teens: Creating Your Personal Stress-Management Plan: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/For-Teens-Creating-Your-Personal-Stress-Management-Plan.aspx

Additional Source: CDC, Coping with Stress: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/copingwith-stresstips.html

Young Adults/Adults

Here are four simple techniques for managing stress:

  1. Positive Self-Talk
    Self-talk is one way to deal with stress. We all talk to ourselves; sometimes we talk out loud but usually we keep self-talk in our heads. Self-talk can be positive (“I can do this” or “Things will work out”) or negative (“I’ll never get well” or “I’m so stupid”).

Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk helps you calm down and control stress. With practice, you can learn to turn negative thoughts into positive ones.

For example:

Negative

Positive

“I can’t do this.”

“I’ll do the best I can.”

“Everything is going wrong.”

“I can handle things if I take one step at a time.”

“I hate it when this happens.”

“I know how to deal with this; I’ve done it before.”

  1. To help you feel better, practice positive self-talk every day — in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts. Having trouble getting started? Try positive statements such as these:
    • “I’ve got this.”
    • “I can get help if I need it.”
    • “We can work it out.”
    • “I won’t let this problem get me down.”
    • “Things could be worse.”
    • “I’m human, and we all make mistakes.”
    • “Some day I’ll laugh about this.”
    • “I can deal with this situation.”

Remember: Positive self-talk helps you relieve stress and deal with the situations that cause you stress. 

  1. Emergency Stress Stoppers
    There are many stressful situations — at work, at home, on the road and in public places. We may feel stress because of poor communication, too much work and everyday hassles like standing in line. Emergency stress stoppers help you deal with stress on the spot.

    Try these emergency stress stoppers. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations and sometimes it helps to combine them.

  • Count to 10 before you speak.
  • Take three to five deep breaths.
  • Walk away from the stressful situation, and say you’ll handle it later.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” if you make a mistake.
  • Set your watch five to 10 minutes ahead to avoid the stress of being late.
  • Break down big problems into smaller parts. For example, answer one letter or phone call per day, instead of dealing with everything at once.
  • Drive in the slow lane or avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving.
  • Smell a rose, hug a loved one or smile at your neighbor.
  • Consider meditationor prayer to break the negative cycle. 
  1. Finding Pleasure
    When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good. Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight off stress.

    You don’t have to do a lot to find pleasure. Even if you’re ill or down, you can find pleasure in simple things such as going for a drive, chatting with a friend or reading a good book.

    Try to do at least one thing every day that you enjoy, even if you only do it for 15 minutes.

    Such as:

    1. Start an art project (oil paint, sketch, create a scrap book or finger paint with grandchildren).
    2. Take up a hobby, new or old.
    3. Read a favorite book, short story, magazine or newspaper.
    4. Have coffee or a meal with friends.
    5. Play golf, tennis, ping-pong or bowl.
    6. Sew, knit or crochet.
    7. Listen to music during or after you practice relaxation.
    8. Take a nature walk — listen to the birds, identify trees and flowers.
    9. Make a list of everything you still want to do in life.
    10. Watch an old movie on TV or rent a video.
    11. Take a class at your local college.
    12. Play cards or board games with family and friends.
       
  2. Daily Relaxation
    Relaxation is more than sitting in your favorite chair watching TV. To relieve stress, relaxation should calm the tension in your mind and body. Some good forms of relaxation are yoga, tai chi (a series of slow, graceful movements) and meditation.

    Like most skills, relaxation takes practice. Many people join a class to learn and practice relaxation skills.

    Deep breathing is a form of relaxation you can learn and practice at home using the following steps. It’s a good skill to practice as you start or end your day. With daily practice, you will soon be able to use this skill whenever you feel stress.

    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap or lie down. Close your eyes.
    2. Picture yourself in a peaceful place. Perhaps you’re lying on the beach, walking in the mountains or floating in the clouds. Hold this scene in your mind.
    3. Inhale and exhale. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply.
    4. Continue to breathe slowly for 10 minutes or more.
    5. Try to take at least five to 10 minutes every day for deep breathing or another form of relaxation.

Source: American Heart Association, Stress Management, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management

 

5. Goal Setting

Youth

Recommendations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Schools includes a standard (number 6) that “Students will demonstrate the ability to use goal-setting skills to enhance health.” 

Rationale: Goal-setting skills are essential to help students identify, adopt, and maintain healthy behaviors. This standard includes the critical steps that are needed to achieve both short-term and long-term health goals. These skills make it possible for individuals to have aspirations and plans for the future.

Performance Indicators*

Pre-K-Grade 2
6.2.1        Identify a short-term personal health goal and take action toward achieving the goal.
6.2.2        Identify who can help when assistance is needed to achieve a personal health goal.

Grades 3-5
6.5.1        Set a personal health goal and track progress toward its achievement.
6.5.2        Identify resources to assist in achieving a personal health goal.

Grades 6-8
6.8.1        Assess personal health practices.
6.8.2        Develop a goal to adopt, maintain, or improve a personal health practice.
6.8.3        Apply strategies and skills needed to attain a personal health goal.
6.8.4        Describe how personal health goals can vary with changing abilities, priorities, and responsibilities.

Grades 9-12
6.12.1       Assess personal health practices and overall health status.
6.12.2       Develop a plan to attain a personal health goal that addresses strengths, needs, and risks.
6.12.3       Implement strategies and monitor progress in achieving a personal health goal.
6.12.4       Formulate an effective long-term personal health plan.

Source: CDC Healthy Schools, Standard 6: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/sher/standards/6.htm

Young Adults/Adults 

None Available.

 

6. Mental Wellness

Youth

The term youth is generally defined as ages 0 – 20, completely encompassing the unborn up into young adulthood. More so than any other age category, youth vary greatly regarding what they need to be healthy depending on where they are developmentally.  These facts and recommendations are for professionals and parents by the American Mental Wellness Association.

Middle Childhood (ages 6 – 8)

Biophysical: A healthy diet never goes out of style, regardless of age. Children should also be getting plenty of exercise. This is a great age to enroll children into athletics to foster team building, confidence, and physical fitness/

Psychological: Friendships are starting to become more important at this stage. There is an intense desire to be liked by peers, and children will start to think about their futures and where their place is in the world.

Social: Friendships become more important during this stage as children have an intense need to be liked. Children may fall into peer pressure more easily during this stage, so it is important to talk to children about how to handle peer pressure. Bullying may also become a problem during this stage.

Spiritual: If being raised in a faith-based home, children in this stage may start having questions about the beliefs of the family. Children may begin to wonder what their purpose is, or have questions such as what happens after you die. 

Late Childhood (ages 8 – 11)

BioPhysical: Healthy diet and exercise, physical changes during puberty (especially for girls), increased awareness of body.

Psychological: If there is a history of mental health problems in the family, now is when they may begin popping up.

Social: Friendships are becoming more complex, and it is becoming more important for strong peer relationships. Parental relationships are still important though – children need to know that as life becomes more complex, they still have the support and love of their parents to fall back on.

Spiritual: A lot of questioning and doubts occur during this stage, which is healthy and normal. Children should be encouraged to think through their doubts and form their own opinions with healthy guidance from parents.

Young Teens (ages 11 – 14)

BioPhysical: Keep on keeping on with the good diet and exercise. This may become more difficult as teens naturally need to eat and sleep more, thus it may be harder to fit in healthy choices and enough physical activity. Stress from school and homework may also contribute to less-than-desired sleep.

Psychological: The need to fit in with peers and be accepted causes friction with the need to be unique and find their own identity. Young teens may start to develop that classic teenage attitude. Strict discipline is not as effective as it was as a child anymore; teens need to understand the whys behind actions and decisions.

Social: Young teens continue to develop complex relationships, perhaps finding interest in romantic partners and dating. Increased peer pressure to experiment with drugs or sex are additional conversations that should be had with parents.

Spiritual: Young teens are much more aware of their futures. Schools may offer aptitude tests, which may stress young teens out more than they help. Mounting pressure to decide on a career begins to really take shape as teens enter into high school and are expected to select classes to cater to their career interest. The push for good grades to get into college also increases during high school. This can be the source of a lot of stress. Young teens should be reminded that they do not need to have their careers mapped out by graduation.

Teenagers (ages 15 – 20)

BioPhysical: Teenagers need more sleep and more food during this important stage of their lives. Continue to promote healthy choices and regular exercise.

Psychological: Pressure to be the best explodes during this time. Stress from school, extracurriculars, and work push students to their limits.

Social: Dating relationships definitely start to take hold during this time. Heartbreak, cheating, and other social traumas may begin to take their toll. 1 in 3 teenagers will be in an unhealthy relationships. If you haven’t already, have conversations now surrounding dating violence.

Spiritual: Teens may feel distress regarding their futures. Most teens only have rough ideas of what they want to do with their lives by graduation; and even then about 80% of college students end up changing their major at least once. Beliefs about faith and spirituality begin to solidify around this time, but are certainly still malleable.

Source: The American Mental Wellness Association, Healthy Youth: https://www.americanmentalwellness.org/prevention/healthy-youth/

Young Adults/Adults

 None available.

 

7. Alcohol Use

Youth

  • Alcohol consumption is associated with a variety of short- and long-term health risks, including motor vehicle crashes, violence, sexual risk behaviors, high blood pressure, and various cancers (e.g., breast cancer).
  • People younger than age 21 should not drink at all.
  • Others who should not drink any alcohol include: 
  1. Women who are or may be pregnant.
  2. People who have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications that can interact with alcohol.
  3. Recovering alcoholics or people unable to control the amount they drink.
  4. People who are doing things that require skill, coordination, and alertness, such as driving a car.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm

Young Adults/Adults 

  • The risk of harm from drinking increases with the amount of alcohol you drink. For some conditions, like some cancers, the risk increases even at very low levels of alcohol consumption (less than1 drink).
  • To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that if alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.
  • This is not intended as an average over several days, but rather the amount consumed on any single day. 
  • The Guidelines also do not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason.

Science around Moderate Alcohol Consumption

  • For some conditions, such as certain types of cancer (e.g., breast cancer) and liver disease, there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption.
  • Although past studies have indicated that moderate alcohol consumption has protective health benefits (e.g., reducing risk of heart disease), recent studies show this may not be true. While some studies have found improved health outcomes among moderate drinkers, it’s impossible to conclude whether these improved outcomes are due to moderate alcohol consumption or other differences in behaviors or genetics between people who drink moderately and people who don’t.
  • Most U.S. adults who drink don’t drink every day. That’s why it’s important to focus on the amount people drink on the days that they drink.
  • Drinking at levels above the moderate drinking guidelines significantly increases the risk of short-term harms, such as injuries, as well as the risk of long-term chronic health problems, such as some types of cancer.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm

Drinking Levels Defined

Moderate alcohol consumption:

According to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, moderate drinking is up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. 

Binge Drinking:

  • NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent – or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter – or higher. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about 2 hours.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), defines binge drinking as 5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past month. 

Heavy Alcohol Use: 

  • NIAAA defines heavy alcohol use as more than 4 drinks on any day for men or more than 3 drinks for women.
  • SAMHSA defines heavy alcohol use as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Drinking Levels Defined: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking

 

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