After the hazy freedom of summer, the months of August and September douse kids in a bucket of cold, harsh reality – school is starting once again. This can mean a lot of things: a flare up in anxiety, rising dread, frantically trying to remember everything you were supposed to learn in algebra last year, or maybe even excitement at the guarantee of seeing your friends everyday (if you so happen to attend a school that’s returned to in-person classes). The overall teenage experience can be stressful, no matter how hard we try to focus on the silver lining. School itself can be overwhelming, and take dramatic tolls on our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. If you’re a young person that wants to learn how to better take care of yourself, in or out of times of turmoil, I suggest reading Self-Made Self-Care for the Teenager.
Written by Isabella Souza, Self-Made Self-Care for the Teenager is a short book, no more than an hour of reading, chock-full of self-care practices that can help teens navigate stress, anxiety, and other strong emotions and difficult situations. Broken down into seven main chapters, the eighth being a final message, I swear that Self-Made Self-Care for the Teenager is more user friendly than Google. Based on her own personal experience with mental health as well cognitive-behavioral practices backed by adolescent psychological research , Isabella offers an amalgamation of exactly 166 self-care tips and tricks. If you find that one of the suggested practices doesn’t work for you, there are so many more to choose from.
Now, this book is in no way a cure all, nor does Isabella intend it to be. This book is not a substitute for therapy or medication. You’re not going to read this and come out of the other end of the experience with perfect mental health. However, this book is a game plan. If our mental health is like a storm cloud ready to rain hail, thunder, and lightning on us, it’s impractical to try and tackle that all at once. But what is practical is baby steps. That’s what each of these self-care tips are for, that a person can absorb these suggestions, put them into practice in their own lives, and make small changes one at a time that will create lasting positive effects on their mental health in the long run.
Practicality is the shining feature Self-Made Self-Care for the Teenager. It’s clear that Isabella, a teenager herself, knows who her audience is. Aside from the book's introduction, all traces of personal narrative, which most self-help authors usually rely on to connect to their readers, is stripped away, leaving behind a condensed, bare-bones, straightforward collection of only the most relevant and applicable practices for a teen to put into action. When I say this is a quick read, I mean it. I think it took me an hour to read only because I was stopping to write so many notes. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on “Studying”, which included actual links to free, online academic resources like Khan Academy, as well as a playlist of lo-fi music. Another great chapter is “Keeping Confident”, which suggests things like “power posing” before important events to help boost confidence, if only for a short while. Other chapters include tips on how to manage time, navigate relationships, handle your emotions, and look out for your body.
I recommend reading Self-Made Self-Care for the Teenager. If you’re a teen, this book is made for you, made by someone who understands how you think and how you feel. It’s written by someone that advocates for you, someone that demands that schools take into consideration all of your needs, including your mental health. If you’re not a teen, I still recommend reading this book. While parents might heave a sigh of relief at the arrival of a new school year, keep in mind that your child spends anywhere between 6-8 hours a day in school, not including transit, sports, clubs, or doing the homework assigned to them out of class. Also consider this: if your teenager is in their first year of high school, their last in-person class was in middle school. We’ve been dealing with a pandemic for two years. School is no longer the experience we knew or were expecting. And since teenagers spend most of their time there, it is bound to be one of their biggest, if not the biggest, stressors in their life. As such, I recommend this book to you, parents. This easy to navigate guidebook to self-care for teenagers will in turn help you guide your child through their roughest moments. I believe that everyone, regardless of if they’re a teenager or not, has something to learn from Isabella’s book, and can either help themselves or others to take care of their mental health and take care of themselves.
Get your copy of Self-Made Self-Care for the Teenager here. Available in Paperback and eBook format. All proceeds go towards the development of social programs at Camino Seguro School in Guatemala City.