Doing it all - Academics, sports & extracurriculars
Research surveys indicate that over 80% of children and youth are involved in extracurricular activities. Research points to the benefits of participating in extracurricular activities. Among these, extracurricular activities helps youth to explore developing identities, gain mastery in particular area(s), and figure out what they’re good at or may be good at.
- Support youth to prioritize physical and mental health: are multiple demands affecting good physical and mental health practices/habits?Sleep: Encourage healthy sleep routine. On average adolescents need 9 hours of sleep per nightHealthy diet: Avoid skipping meals, intake of highly caffeinated drinks or energy drinks. Poor diet can negatively affect developing body during adolescence when a lot of changes are taking placeStress: Notice signs of stress like frequent tired/fatigue, constant worry, stomachaches and headaches, chest pains, muscle tension, withdrawal from people and activities Help youth to notice and label/identify feelings that may be indicative of stress/ recognize and acknowledge stress. It’s normal to feel stressed every now and then, but if it becomes a chronic feeling then activities might be compromising well-being Learn and practice stress management skills such relaxation exercises (e.g., deep breathing – there’s a lot of resources online outlining simple breathing exercises), taking a walk to clear mind/thoughts Seek out supportive people in life to talk about pressure and stress rather than going on as if everything is fine. Others may not be aware that the teen is feeling overwhelmed, especially if they’re still meeting their commitments.
Make time to take time
- Advise youth to build in time to nourish/replenish energy. Time to refuel helps with physical and mental health, and allows for balance.
- Set aside time each day to do something just for you. It doesn’t have to be a long activity, just something that’s downtime
- Time for relationships with family, friends, mentor, and other supportive individuals
- Help youth to set limits.
- Set realistic plans for extracurriculars. Start by gathering as much information as possible including how much time they take, whether you can do multiple ones, and whether they will cut into time for others things that are important to you
- Limit time to activity/activities that youth is into/interested. Rather than spreading time thin being superficially involved in multiple activities, invest time in /commit to ones that they are passionate about
- Recognize when extracurricular(s) become unrealistic in terms of time/commitment, and be ok with letting go/cutting out some
- Explore if extracurricular(s) are cutting into time for schoolwork, family, friends, sleep, etc.
- Time Management: learning to plan ahead and manage time effectively is a useful way to balance multiple demands and meet commitments/deadlines, and also reduce stress
- Encourage mentee to make use of an organizer: They can use a calendar or a planner to jot down all of their commitments including homework assignments, school projects/papers, tests, extracurriculars, & family obligations
- Schedule in downtime throughout schedule to have balance of structured/unstructured time
- Once activities are in the organizer, make habit of actually USING it. Look at it on a daily/weekly basis to update, make changes, etc.
- Encourage practice, practice
- Not mastered at one time. Balancing and the tools you use to help you are constantly evolving so don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out at once