Staying Healthy and Safe

Staying Healthy and Safe

Live a sober, healthy lifestyle. Many teens are tempted by friends or peers to start using drugs or alcohol at some point. While those who drink or do drugs may act like it makes you popular or tell you that everyone does it, this is simply not true. Not everyone drinks or does drugs, and you shouldn't feel pressured to just because some of your peers choose to experiment with intoxicants. In fact, living a sober, healthy lifestyle can actually help you form bonds and develop supportive friendships with likeminded individuals.

Resist peer pressure and say you're not interested. If that doesn't work, tell your peers that your parents would kill you if you ever drank alcohol or tried drugs.

Tobacco use is also very dangerous and highly addictive. This expensive habit can ruin your health and make you very unpleasant to be around for nonsmokers.

Try to enjoy your life. If you find things to be happy and positive about, you'll be less likely to seek out escapes like intoxication.

Remember that no matter who you are, someone looks up to you as a role model. Drinking, smoking, or doing drugs sets a bad example for others.

Talk to a trustworthy adult, like a relative or a respected teacher, if you're worried you'll have trouble saying no to alcohol or drugs. There may be some underlying issues with self-esteem or your home life that can be addressed.

Drive safely and responsibly. Distracted driving and unsafe driving are two of the biggest dangers to teens on the road today. Many adolescents don't think twice about texting while driving, talking on the phone, or engaging in other dangerous distractions; however, distracted driving can (and often is) fatal, and it can only take a split second of moving your eyes away from the road for an accident to occur.

Never talk on the phone or text while driving. Pull over if you need to eat, drink, play with the stereo, or program a GPS, as all of these can be equally dangerous and distracting while driving.

Try to drive alone, at least until you're an experienced and defensive driver. Having even one other teen passenger in your car while you drive can double the risk of having an accident.

Take driver safety courses. If your school offers drivers education, you should take the class and pay close attention.

Always obey the speed limit. Remember that you may have to drive slower than the posted speed limit in poor visibility or bad weather.

Always wear your seat belt when in a car, as a driver or passenger.

Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you're at a party and you or your designated driver have been drinking, call a taxi, a sober friend, or a parent to come pick you up.

Be responsible if you choose to have a sexual relationship. Not all teens and adolescents choose to have sex. In fact, many choose to remain abstinent. Abstinence is the only way to guarantee that you don't get pregnant or acquire a sexually transmitted infection/disease (STI/STD). There are many ways of exploring non-sexual emotional expressions with someone you care about, and having sex doesn't have to be the only way. Having sex can impact your romantic and social relationships in ways that aren't always healthy, including elevated stress levels and social isolation. If you do choose to have a sexual relationship, though, it's important that you do so carefully and responsibly.

Talk to your parents, a trusted friend or relative, or your doctor if you are having sex or thinking of having sex. They can help you decide on the best ways to be safe, and help you get the supplies you need. If you don't have someone you trust, check with a local Planned Parenthood or other local teen or health clinic.

Having multiple partners can greatly increase your risk of acquiring or spreading an STI. If you choose to have sex, you can help lower the risk of you or your partner acquiring an STI by remaining in a mutually-monogamous relationship.

Condoms should be worn consistently and correctly from start to finish any time you have sex. Even if you use a secondary form of birth control, condoms should always be worn to prevent STIs.

Prescription birth control comes in many forms. It can help prevent pregnancy, but it will not protect against STIs, and therefore should still be used with a condom.

Emergency contraception, such as the "morning after" pill, is available if a condom breaks or if you forget to take your prescription birth control; however, these emergency contraceptives will not prevent STIs and should only be used in case of emergency (not as a primary method of birth control).

Develop a healthy body image. Your teenage years can be incredibly difficult at times, due in part to the physical and chemical changes your body is going through. Some people may gain or lose a lot of weight during their teen years. Others may grow very tall while their friends remain shorter. Your body shape, size, or build should never be a source of embarrassment. Never feel bad about the way you look, and ignore anyone who tries to make you feel ashamed.

Remember that everyone's body is different. There is no standard or "normal" range of height, weight, or body shape, just as there is no "normal" hair or eye color.

Don't let others make you feel bad about your appearance, and make sure you never make someone else feel bad about his or her appearance.

If you want to eat healthier or increase your daily exercise levels, there are many ways to do so safely. Talk to your doctor about ways to stay fit and healthy without putting yourself at risk.

Get enough sleep each night. Sleep is an important part of every adolescent's life. Getting proper sleep helps you grow strong, stay healthy, and feel your best. When you don't get enough sleep or when you get poor-quality sleep, other aspects of your life can suffer

Most teenagers need eight to 10 hours of sleep each night; however, some teens may need even more sleep, depending on their lifestyle and body chemistry.

Not getting enough sleep can affect your performance at school and your ability to drive a vehicle. It can also have ramifications on your physical health.

Set yourself up for a good night's sleep by maintaining a sleep schedule, even on the weekends. Going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time every day can help program your body for better sleep.

Keep your room slightly cool — but not uncomfortably cold — to ensure a better night's sleep. (60 – 65°F or 15.5 – 18.3°C is considered ideal.)

Try to make your room darker by closing the curtains or blinds. You should also discontinue all electronics use at least 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime to avoid upsetting your melatonin levels.

Prevent the spread of germs. It's not uncommon for friends in high school to share everything, and unfortunately that often includes germs. It's good to bond with your peers, but you should always practice responsible hygiene whether you're out with your friends or alone at home.

Always wash your hands with soap and warm water. If you can't wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes or mouth if you haven't washed your hands recently.

Cover your nose and mouth whenever you sneeze or cough.

Do not share food, water bottles, or cosmetic items with others, as this is a common way of passing illnesses and infections on to your friends.