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During your middle school years, you earn oodles more responsibility. Guess what? That also means that taking care of your health is now up to you. There’s no more relying on mom and dad to remind you to brush your teeth.
What should you do to begin taking charge of your well-being? Here are eight health tips for middle school students.
1. Limit Your Junk Food Consumption
You might love convenience snacks — those cheesy puffs satisfy a crunchy, savory craving. However, you probably know that overeating junk and convenience foods doesn’t improve your complexion, waistline or overall health.
One problem is the white flour that coats fried just-about-everything. Manufacturing all-purpose flour creates a chemical byproduct called alloxan that scientists use to induce diabetes in laboratory animals by destroying their pancreas.
These products also absorb into your bloodstream as quickly as those laden with sugar. Combining the two effects gives you the perfect recipe for Type 2 diabetes.
Your best bet? Consume white foods — white flour and sugar — sparingly. Instead, seek whole foods close to their natural form. Snack on nuts and dried fruits instead of ultra-processed crackers and puffed snacks.
2. Look at Your Plate as a Clock
You probably also know that you need to eat various fruits and vegetables every day. Why? These foods contain antioxidants and phytonutrients vital to human health. You can’t supplement your way to complete health — it’s much better to get your necessary nutrients through food to lower your disease risk.
One easy trick? Look at your plate as a clock and fill half of it with the green and brightly colored stuff. It’s easier than you think — lettuce takes up a lot of space.
3. Move Your Body Every Day
You don’t have to join the track or football team to reap the benefits of exercise. Moving your body is essential to mental and physical health. The World Health Organization recommends that those between 5 and 18 get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day.
If you’re more introverted, why not ask your caregivers about yoga or martial arts lessons to get your movement while instilling quiet confidence? Lacing up your shoes and going for a walk is probably the easiest and most affordable way to get your exercise. Plus, it doubles as transportation — since you can’t yet drive a car.
4. Build a Positive Support Crew
Taking care of your mental health is as important as nurturing your physical body. One way to do so? Build a positive tribe that uplifts you on those dark days.
Who should you include? Anyone from your caregivers to school counselors to — of course — your BFF. The only qualification is that these individuals encourage you without fail. When you encounter a problem, they help you see the opportunity in it, pointing you toward healthy coping behaviors.
5. Practice Your Passion
It’s an unfortunate reality, but digging your way out of poverty takes a solid 20 years with nothing going wrong — no sudden rent increases, family illnesses or vehicle repairs. Although you’re too young to worry about how to pay the bills, you should take one lesson to heart — doing things solely to earn money seldom works out the way you planned.
Your best bet is to practice your passion. Do so even if you feel like your desired career field is too competitive or pays lousy wages. Unfortunately, most jobs these days barely pay enough to meet your basic needs, let alone save for a home or retirement, regardless of your role. Doing what you love allows you to enjoy each day, each moment as it comes, instead of grimly putting in hours for what seems like no reward.
6. Get Involved in Worthy Causes
However, you are much more than grim economic realities. You are a thriving, sensitive being capable of making positive changes in your world. The best way to do so is to get involved with causes you feel passionate about.
For example, climate change is already making many people in your generation reconsider starting a family when they reach adulthood. Instead of resigning yourself to a child-free existence, why not work to promote sustainability like many other youth activists?
7. Make Self-Care a Ritual
You might forget to brush your teeth without parental prompting. Your best solution? Make doing so a part of your nightly routine. After all, you probably rub various creams on your face to stave off acne — extend your self-care time into a ritual.
Brushing your teeth and hair and washing your face serve as a visual and tactile cue that it’s time to wind down for bed. Creating a nighttime ritual can help you drift into dreamland, even as you get older and your responsibilities and worries increase.
8. Enjoy a Restful Night’s Sleep
As you traverse your middle school years, you may discover your sleeping habits changing. Changes in your melatonin levels often mean staying up later and rising later in the morning. You’re not lazy — it’s a natural part of your transition to adulthood.
However, you still have to catch the bus on time. Regulate your melatonin by keeping electronics out of your bedroom. The blue light from screens tricks your brain into thinking it’s daylight, preventing your brain from releasing this vital sleep hormone, keeping you awake.
What if you share a room with a snoring sibling? Will your caregivers spring for a white noise machine or a pair of noise-canceling headphones to help you get your Zzzs?
Health Tips for Middle School Students
Middle school begins your transition to adulthood. You’re now responsible for taking care of your health with less parental prompting.
However, you’re up to the task. Follow these health tips for middle school students and smooth your transition.