Teen Wellness: 10 Tips from Tabay Atkins
16-year-old Tabay Atkins is on a mission to use his voice and platform to make a difference in the lives of others, especially with teen wellness. Currently a face of Nike, Tabay is also one of the most sought-after yoga instructors in the world, having taught the likes of Deepak Chopra and the Kardashians to name just a few.
His journey began as a young boy when he witnessed the debilitating effects of his mother’s struggle with cancer. A devout yogi herself, his mother was committed to keeping a positive mindset and maintaining her practice; and two months later was able to walk again. Tabay knew from then on that he had found his “dharma.” Today, he reigns as the youngest certified yogi in America and has blossomed into an accomplished vegan chef and reiki healer. Given all that he’s done at such a young age, we were curious to know his go-to tips for teen wellness.
Check out what he had to say below:
TIP #1: Set a Schedule
Setting a schedule will not only make it easier to incorporate the next nine tips into your life; it will also help you be more productive, make sure you’re getting enough downtime, and keep your everyday life running in an organized fashion. When setting your schedule, try to keep the rest of these ten tips in mind.
By having an efficient schedule, you will be taking a lot of the stress out by making sure you are doing everything you are supposed to each day—which will in turn be an act of kindness to yourself.
TIP #2: Get Enough (Quality) Sleep
Getting enough sleep is very important to stay well. As a teen, 8-10 hours of undisturbed, restful sleep is ideal. The best thing to do to improve your quality of sleep is to set a sleeping schedule. Know when you want to wake up and plan your sleep time accordingly. Try to have your last meal at least two hours before bed and limit your screen time to one to two hours before bedtime, to give your mind some time to unwind.
TIP #3: Have Controlled Screen Time
Like I just said, it’s important to limit screen time before bed, but having controlled screen time throughout your day is also beneficial. Improve your mental and physical wellness by reducing your daily screen time. Excessive screen time can lead to increased anxiety and stress—hindering our mindfulness, attention, and focus. The less time we are on our screens, the more time we get to enjoy all that the real world has to offer.
TIP #4: Stay Active
Staying active is necessary for physical wellness for many reasons. Have morning yoga practice, be involved in a sport, or go on a brief stroll. Mental and emotional health are also greatly benefited from physical activity. Private activities like a personal yoga practice help ground the mind and facilitate a greater awareness of one’s true self. At the same time, social activities like playing a sport or going to the park with friends can build teamwork, efficient communication, and conflict resolution skills—plus, it’s a lot of fun!
TIP #5: Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time outside is a great thing to add to your teen’s wellness routine. Being outside helps us get the Vitamin D we need. We can also take advantage of this time to stay active, as well.
Being outdoors can be so much fun! I can’t tell you the number of fun games I’ve invented while I was outside! When we spend more time outdoors we are connecting with nature, improving our creativity, reducing our screen time (remember tip #3?), staying active, and becoming more mindful.
TIP #6: Mindfulness Leads to Teen Wellness
Mindfulness is so broad and can be applied to literally everything… Everything!
To keep it relevant, I will stay specific to wellness. The reason mindfulness is of such high priority is that when we’re mindful, we make good decisions for our health. When we aren’t mindful, we could easily blow through a whole bag of chips while watching a movie marathon.
When we’re mindful, we consider all of the other components of teen wellness—“Am I being active? Am I controlling screen time? Am I eating foods that are nutritious?” Being mindful helps us have a clear mind and can choose a path that leads to overall wellness. It makes us enjoy life even more by taking in and appreciating the true beauty of everything around you. Mindfulness also helps you move through stressful situations without letting them affect you.
TIP #7: Properly Deal With Stress
Now that we know about mindfulness, we can apply it to other aspects of teen wellness. After seeing the last four tips, we now know that mental and physical wellness are very connected and equally as important. You can’t achieve overall wellness unless both the mental and physical aspects are well.
Stress left unchecked causes mental and physical health problems. When we block stress, we’re actually letting it build up inside of us. When we do that, the pressure can increase so much that it escapes in an undesirable way. That’s why it is important to “deal with” stress properly—meaning you have to use mindfulness. In a stressful situation, you use mindfulness to understand what is causing the stress and relate to that situation with kindness.
Over-identifying with our thoughts causes us to be so involved in our feeling of stress. When we get thoughts that make us feel stressed, and we identify ourselves with them, we become stuck in a stressed-out state. When we realize that these are just thoughts, we can choose not to be those thoughts.
Remember: we have thoughts but we are not our thoughts. Thoughts are kind of like travelling salespeople—when they come, you don’t have to (and sometimes shouldn’t) buy everything they’re selling. When your mind tries to “sell” you thoughts, don’t completely block them out, but also don’t buy into everything your mind throws at you. With mindfulness, we can know which thoughts are actually useful and which thoughts are just junk (to stick with the analogy).
TIP #8: Be Kind
Kindness may seem out of place in a list of teen wellness tips, but it does have a connection. When we’re kind to ourselves, our mind and body feel it. It works the same way when we’re unkind to ourselves. Even as a joke, making unkind judgments or comments about yourself actually affects you physically and mentally. We should always choose kindness towards ourselves and others. Kindness is contagious, but so is unkindness. It always starts with us.
Let me tell you a short story… A long time ago, the Buddha was meditating in the forest. Someone walked up to him and started verbally abusing him. Even though that man wasn’t being very kind, the Buddha continued to sit there in meditation until the unkind man finished yelling at him. When he was done, the Buddha said, “Thank you for your gifts, but I choose not to accept them.” Mic drop. From this story, we are reminded of the salesperson—we don’t have to accept everything we get from anyone. Always remember to react and respond with kindness.
TIP #9: Have Proper Nutrition
Eating good food helps fuel the body. Be kind to your bodies by eating foods that keep them healthy. Having a nutritious diet is very important for a healthy lifestyle. Just like the systems of the body, these tips work together—not independently—to keep you well.
What we eat affects our physical health, mental wellbeing, mood, and more. When we eat nourishing food, our body and mind thrive. Meanwhile, eating unnatural and processed junk food makes fatigued, out of shape, mental cloudiness, and difficulty focusing. Unhealthy food can cause disease, while healthy, unprocessed, whole food can prevent and even reverse disease!
The great thing is that it’s easier than ever to eat healthy food now! You can find and make many familiar foods that taste great and are still healthy. Remember: the hardest part about making the change to a healthy diet is keeping an open mind.
TIP #10: Keep an Open Mind
When trying something new (like these ten tips, for example) the best way to reap the benefits is to keep an open mind. You will never grow if you keep your mind closed to new ideas. Try new things, challenge your current beliefs, and keep discovering. When you incorporate these ten wellness tips into your life, do so with an open mind. When you’re closed-minded, you will either not try them at all or go into it with a mentality that won’t allow you to get the benefits.
Teen wellness starts with a positive mind and a genuine desire to make a good change.