Tis The Season For Stress

We hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and now it’s the month for Christmas! The holiday season is very busy and teens often find this time of the year stressful, with Christmas planning, exam season, and spending lots of time together as a family.

Here are some reasons why teens might find the holidays a stressful time:

  • A change, and lack of routine

  • Not seeing their friends as much

  • More pressure to spend time with family and friends

  • The pressure to study for finals

  • Completing college applications

Here are some ideas of ways that you can support your teen(s) throughout the holidays:

  • Allow them some space to be alone

  • Acknowledge that they are under a lot of stress

  • Offer your support as a parent

  • Allow them to skip some social events if they don’t feel up to it

Your teen might need a bit more support than usual during the holiday’s but it’s important to remember that they are going through a lot at this time of year and your support might be just the thing they need.

If your teen needs a little extra support this holiday season give us a call!

5 Steps To Staying Emotionally Strong

Let’s face it. Life is going to happen and it won’t always be happy. We can often let circumstances emotionally overwhelm us and at times it feels as if an avalanche of emotions is overtaking us. 

This is especially true for teens who are already adjusting to emerging hormones that are playing havoc with their emotions. Add to that, a brain that is not yet fully developed and social situations which magnify their sensitivities and you have a recipe for an emotional potboiler. 

At Mindful Healing, we believe that there are techniques your teen can learn to help them navigate the emotional minefields that assault them as they are learning to transition to adulthood. The key to this is following 5-steps, 5 simple steps to staying emotionally strong through all the turmoil. 

Just follow the acronym. PLEASE:

PL: Physical wellness and well-being. When your teen is tired, sick, not taking needed medications, they are going to be overwhelmed by the slightest disappointment, least of all, the occasions for the big emotional events in their lives. When they get sick, they need to see the doctor, take their meds and do all that they can to ensure their physical well-being.

E: Exercise. Part of good physical self-care is exercise. We now know that exercise not only reduces stress but actually changes the brain into making it a healthier one. Consequently, exercise becomes part of the foundation for staying emotionally strong. Yoga, aerobics, strengthening and stretching exercises all contribute to your teens emotional as well as physical well-being.

A: Avoid drugs and alcohol. Drugs may give temporary relief. Your teen may say that marijuana, for example, “makes me feel less anxious.” Your teen’s brain is not the same as an adult’s and what they need to learn is how to manage their emotions, emotions that won’t always be so intense, without drugs that will help them escape from their feelings. Being emotionally strong means being able to handle your feelings without becoming crushed by them!

S: Sleep well. This means a regular bedtime and rising time, even on weekends. It means a minimum of 8 hrs sleep, and for most teens, 8-10 per night. Do remember also, that regular exercise can help teens to sleep better. 

E: Eat balanced meals. Food provides the physical building blocks of our emotional systems. Without the proper balance of proteins, good fats and carbs, your teen will have a harder time coping with their emotions, especially crises. 

Just remember, that if they can PLEASE their bodies through healthy habits, they will become a lot more resilient and emotionally stronger!

Want to help your teen learn to manage their emotions? Contact us. 

Helping Teens Focus On What Is Good

One thing that can increase suffering for teens is they have a tendency to be so focused on the negative events in their lives that they begin to emphasize them at the expense of the good. If life were a series of peaks and valleys, some teens would count only the valleys and ignore or minimize all the peaks. This can lead to increased depression, isolation, and even impact their friendships. 

As parents, you are often trying to help your teens see the positive or the “silver lining.” May get responses like, “you just don’t understand,” or “you never listen to me,” or “that’s not how it works.” 

WHAT CAN YOU DO? 

At Mindful Healing, we encourage teens to start accumulating positive events and writing them down, or scrapbooking them, or doing collages, or engaging in other artistic expressions that helps them change that mental habit of connecting only the valleys.  

What are some of the things your teen would count as positive in their lives? Favorite foods? Recognition from peers and in what way? Awards? Family events? Favorite holidays? Family trips? Movies? Books that really spoke to them? Recreational activities that they would like to remember? A list of three things to be grateful for each day?  

You too can help your teen by encouraging them to find that silver lining and help them see how brightly it can shine!

If your teen would benefit from coping skills. Contact us. 

12 Prompts To Help Your Teen Practice Gratitude This Thanksgiving

Many teens who are depressed, anxious or overwhelmed struggle with finding things to be grateful for. I hear them say that they know they have good things or feel they “should” be grateful, but they don’t feel it. The good news is that research shows that gratitude practices work just by spending time searching for things to be grateful for. That act of thinking about it alone is beneficial. 

So this Thanksgiving here are some fun prompts to help you and your teen get your mind thinking about gratitude: 

  1. Write down 1 experience you are really glad you had. 
  2. Name 5 technology gadgets you are grateful for. 
  3. Did you do something nice for someone recently? Write about it. 
  4. What family members are you most grateful for? Write about what makes them special.
  5. Who do you trust most and why? 
  6. What is your favorite song? 
  7. List 3 things that make you laugh?
  8. Who knows you the very best? Who is your closet peer? 
  9. What are 3 things you take for granted?
  10. What is something that has made your life easier? And why?
  11. What’s something that you’re looking forward to?
  12. What’s one of your personality traits that you’re grateful for?

Teens value authenticity. You can help your teen learn to be grateful by being authentic with them and treating them like an expert in their own life. 

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough and more.” – Melody Beattie 

 

Helping Teens Respond To Failure

Teens are often harder on themselves than we as parents could ever be on them. In fact, sometimes it seems as if our “cheerleading” attempts, our positive encouragement,  have little or no impact on them. Sometimes it feels that no matter what, our teen is overwhelmed by feelings of failure. 

As parents we often want to “fix” this for them when what they really need to learn is how to cope with that feeling, to realize that it is temporary and is not reality. 

At Mindful Healing, we teach teens a technique that helps them deal with these big emotions by  Riding the Wave. The “wave” is the emotion, and as they ride it, they observe the feeling: notice what they are feeling, any physical sensations, allowing themselves to feel the feelings without judgment.  They then describe the feeling: this includes describing the feeling without getting stuck in the thought itself. Next, they learn to accept the experience and then, just like a wave, they allow it to pass. 

Many of us experience our feelings like a wave, getting bigger and bigger. We often get stuck in the thoughts, which increase the size of the “wave.” If our teens learn to ride the wave without getting stuck in the thought much like waves at the beach, their feelings will rise and then they will decrease. It might come back and they’ll ride it again… until the tide finally goes out! 

If your teen needs help learning to respond to distressing feelings contact us here.

Danger Will Robinson Danger!

The body’s response to anxiety is a response to danger. When we feel anxious, our bodies release adrenaline into our bloodstream to enable us to get to safety quickly (flight response). The danger doesn’t have to be real for this to happen. All we have to do is think it is real.

For people who suffer from anxiety, this response kicks in when it isn’t needed, often due to exaggerated thoughts… that many, especially teens, struggle with: “They all hated me…I’ll never be able to talk to anyone…I’m a loser and I’ll never amount to anything…”etc. These thoughts lead your teen to the flight or fight response of real danger: they will avoid (flight) friends, places, leave early, etc. or they will be angry (fight) over something as simple as a question you may ask, such as “did you do your homework?” (their thinking: “I’m stupid. You know I’m stupid. I am going to fail. Stop making me feel worse.”) These flight or fight responses give them the illusion of safety when in reality it perpetuates your teen’s anxiety.

The more they avoid friends, for example, the harder it will be for them to read social cues, to engage in a conversation, to feel good about themselves. The angrier they get when you ask a question, the less able they are to identify the fact that what they are really upset about is their fear that they are “stupid”, for example. 

At Mindful Healing, once we help teens identify their responses as anxious responses, we then teach them how to cope with the anxiety itself. One of the techniques to our body’s adrenaline response is Mindful Breathing. This one technique can drastically reduce the frequency and the intensity of both thoughts and physical sensations of anxiety. 

If your teen needs support learning contact us today. 

The #1 Skill To Help Your Teen Cope Long Term

Of all the different techniques that we, at Mindful Healing, can help teens learn, Belly Breathing is the most important. Why? Because it can be applied to just about every distressing situation your teen may encounter from being bullied to having to do homework they would rather avoid. 

Belly Breathing-The goal of belly breathing is to help your teen learn to be calm and non-judgmental. Simply allowing thoughts to come and go without being attached to them. 

Simply, ironic isn’t it? It is simple AND it isn’t. Belly breathing takes practice both physically and mentally. Learning to belly breath has more benefits that I can possibly list here, but I will give some of my favorites. 

Benefits

  • We learn to become an observer of our-self creating space between thought, feeling and behavior.
  • We learn to have more control of our thoughts and increase focus.
  • We calm our central nervous system and its reaction, we connect our feeling brain and thinking brain. This one is crucial. This is the only way to connect our feeling brain and thinking brain. Want your teen to be able to think when upset? Belly breathing is the #1 skill!

How to practice: (Belly breathing) Sit comfortably, imagine a balloon in your belly…allow thoughts to come and go..just notice sounds, physical sensations, emotions, be non-judgemental.

Just remember that the use of mindful breathing is the basic brick in the foundation of all the other techniques that can help your teen cope with life events!

5-Steps To Personal Well-Being

Teens are often so wrapped up in their own emotions that they have a hard time getting out of themselves and seeing the bigger picture. At Mindful Healing, we teach a 5-Step process that helps them with this. By learning to follow the acronym, CLEAN, teens learn how to take the spotlight off of themselves so they can more fully enjoy life:

C: Connect with family and friends. One of our basic human needs is connection. How many of us would not get to exercise, for example, if we didn’t have someone to go with? Or go to a movie, if we were alone? By connecting to others, we can receive and give empathy, validation, caring, step outside of ourselves and feel good about being with others.

L: Learn something new and challenge yourself. Let’s face it- teens can get into ruts, glued to their phones, focused on their video games, obsessed with social media… ruts that cause them to isolate, dull their minds, and narrow their world. By learning something new, your teen can discover new aspects of themselves, develop confidence in new ways and find connections with others.

E: Exercise. Exercise is essential to emotional well-being. Just as trauma and unhappy experiences can create negative chemical pathways in the brain, exercise can also affect the brain… in positive ways by reducing stress, creating new neural pathways that will increase the ability to become emotionally stronger, and resilient.

A: Acts of kindness. Acts of kindness to others are acts of kindness to ourselves! By doing something for another person, your teen can get that “feel good” surge that helps them not only connect to others, but also feel good about themselves!

N: Notice. Be curious. By becoming aware of their environment, they are not being focused on themselves. Awareness leads to curiosity which leads to new experiences which leads to new challenges which then often leads to connecting to others. Being curious means, above all, savoring the moment!

If your teen needs help managing their emotions contact us here. 

How To Have Good Sleep Habits This School Year

School is once again rearing its head! One of the most important aspects of self-care, emotional well-being, and strength, (and good grades!) is getting quality sleep. We are only a couple of weeks into the school year and many of my clients are complaining about being tired and having a hard time focusing in class and getting there work done. 

Why is this? 

Most teens need 8-9 hours of sleep and the school year isn’t conducive to this. Teens natural sleep cycle also tends to stay up later and sleep in later. So here are some tips your teen can use so that they can be prepared for this school year!

  1. Set a schedule (most people don’t realize our schedule is set by when we wake up not fall asleep so get up within an hour of the same time every day. Yes, teens that includes weekends). However, your body will naturally start to wake up at this time and you will actually feel more rested.
  2. Don’t force yourself to sleep -if your not asleep in 20 min to get out of bed. Avoid any stimulating activities like screens or eating.
  3. Avoid caffeine for 12 hours before bed.
  4.  Avoid napping!
  5. Use your bed only for sleep-avoid doing homework, reading, playing video games or using your phone in bed.
  6. Exercise and eat well. Try to be active during the day and have at least 3 balanced meals.
  7. Sleep in a comfortable environment. Make your room your safe space. Be sure it is quiet, at a comfortable sleeping temperature, your bed is comfortable, have a good pillow, etc.  Pleasant dreams…!

If your teen needs support contact us today.

Parents Stop Doing This One Thing to Improve Your Teens Resilience!

Worry! Worry! Worry! That seems to be every teen parent’s companion. Did they do their homework? Are they in with the wrong crowd? Will they get into the right school? Why did they get a B instead of an A? How can I help them make friends? Why won’t my teen talk to me? What can I do to help their teacher understand… understand my child suffers from… understand they are overloaded… understand, understand, understand. Why do they stay in their room all day on social media when the sun is shining and they can go out and have fun? And these are just the “normal” worries. 

Parents are often so busy trying to prevent their worst fears from coming true, or trying to fix situations out of their fear that if their child has to endure the natural consequences of their behavior, they will never recover and will get worse; they will never speak to you again; they will hate you; they will lose what little confidence they have… name the fear, whatever it is and you have a parent rushing around trying to fix or prevent situations concerning their child. 

Does your teen feel protected and safe as a result of these efforts? No! Even if they seem relieved at first, parental resolution of their problems reinforces their own fears about themselves: What they feel is incompetent, unable to resolve their own problems, helpless and ever more anxious. What they lose is the opportunity to build resilience, to realize that they are capable of resolving the left curves that life will throw their way. They lose the ability to be proactive in their own life and lose the confidence that will drive them to face difficulties head on and find a way to figure things out. 

What can you do? 

  • Make a list of your worries
  • Make a list of potential consequences if you don’t intervene .
  • Evaluate your worries in terms of life and death issues, literally and if the issue is not something that will lead to death… how bad can it be? For you? Or for your child?
  • Make a list of the positive outcomes that will happen if they do resolve their situation on their own  and if not,
  • What can they learn from their mistakes? 

Need parenting support? Contact us today.

(860) 387-5689