Teen Around Too Much

Looking for balance between family time and alone time?  Is your teen around too much?! Are you struggling to find time alone? We all know the feeling. Normally, we have a routine that gives us space and a natural balance between family time and alone time. 

This routine allows families to have time together, it allows parents to have time as individuals and couples, and it allows teens to have time with friends. It makes family time more important. 

Now what happens when that family time becomes SO frequent that work, school, meals, recreation, and alone time merge together?

Many of the parents we work with at Mindful Healing are finding this time rather interesting (or difficult) to navigate.

Your home may be feeling very crowded now that everyone is in the same space 24/7. You may find yourself irritable, anxious, and frustrated. Your boundaries may be blurring and you may find it difficult to have a schedule or routine. 

Parents: let’s take a look at what you can do to help ensure family time doesn’t become TOO much! 
Be intentional with your time and space

Prior to this pandemic your life may have had a routine with clear, outlined daily tasks. Parents had work, teens went to school, dinner was at the dining room table, and family time in the living room. Now, everyone is sharing space more frequently. The dining room table has become work, school, and dinner space. Be intentional about how you spend your time and where you spend it. Try to dedicate rooms to certain activities at certain times.

Decide as a family how to work in shared spaces, and make a plan to cope ahead of time.

During this time, it is common for families to be arguing over shared space. One teen may want to eat lunch when their sibling is doing “school” at a shared table, or someone else may want quiet when trying to work in the family room. To avoid these conflicts, talk about shared rooms. Have a family discussion and make a plan to “cope ahead” to avoid these conflicts. 

Plan “alone time” into everyone’s day, including yours

Prior to COVID teens and parents had time to themselves. You may not have realized how important your commute was to decompressing until now! Or evening running errands like grocery shopping. So…don’t forget to plan alone time for everyone! Be creative and create ways to get it within the new limits. Maybe, plan time for everyone to be in different places in the house or to go into nature alone. 

Allow your kids to help out with work or chores.

It may sound corny, but allowing your children to help you around the house will bring your teen purpose and structure. It allows your teen to have a sense of accomplishment and to feel productive during the day (something they are currently lacking). 

Plan a family outing

Yes, stores are closed, but nature isn’t. Get outside, get some sun, exercise, and quality family time. It’s important to change the scenery and just engage in something different. Not to mention, exercise causes the brain to release the “happy hormone” dopamine, which elevates mood and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression! 

Family time is crucial in finding unity, strength, and forming long lasting bonds with the people we love.

Family time has been redefined, but we don’t have to let this pandemic taint our definition of family time. 

Especially since, family time is pretty much most of our time right now.

Need support? Click here to contact us today

Improve Your Teen’s Mood With Pleasant Activities

In a world of uncertainty and many unknowns, how we spend our free time is essential to our mental health. While we are at home it is important for us and our teens to find enjoyable activities to support our happiness.

Currently there are so many things outside of our control due to COVID-19, one thing we do have control over is how we spend our time at home. Focusing on what we can control can decrease stress and overwhelm. You can balance our day-to-day responsibilities with pleasant activities. One thing you can do to improve your mood during stressful time is to increase pleasant activities that promote positive emotions.

HOW TO INCREASE POSITIVE ACTIVITIES?

Make a plan to do one thing you enjoy each day. If you are feeling unmotivated, start small. One way to increase motivation is by engaging in pleasant activities. Maybe setting a reminder on your phone to do something you enjoy everyday. This could be:

Walking the dog

Connecting with friends online

Creating funny memes

Playing a video game

Going for a hike

As teens begin to incorporate these enjoyable activities into their day, it will improve their mood both in the short and long-term.

You can help your teen come up with ideas for pleasant activities by thinking about what is important to them. What do they enjoy and value? This will give the experience meaning and have a larger impact on their mood.

Help your teen plan for long-term success by adding positive experiences into their daily routine.

Worried Because Your Teen Is Too Calm During Our Pandemic?

Many teens are feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the shutdown BUT many are not. Some teens with intense social anxiety or who are bullied are feeling relief. Relief from being consumed with a fear of being judged…from being picked on…or from having to face their social fears. 

One parent described her teen as being “happy as a clam.” Another told us that her teen “hasn’t been this calm in years.” 

WHY ARE THERE THESE PARENTS WORRIED? 

You are probably wondering what the problem is? Happy as a clam seems great. What’s the problem?? Well, though not planned avoidance, the very act of avoiding discomfort is what actually creates more discomfort!! The more we avoid our distress, the more we experience intense problematic behaviors as the cycle of avoidance continues. 

Anxiety naturally limits interactions and healthy risk taking that develops our confidence. Parents are worried about the long-term effects of social distancing because this forced avoidance actually increases anxiety. 

What will happen when school shutdown ends? 

* “How will I get her back to school whenever this is over?”

* “How do I get him to socialize and make friends after this if he already struggles?”

* “Will he lose all the progress he was making in therapy because of social distancing?”

These concerns are valid and real. Exposure therapy helps treat anxiety because it is the opposite of avoidance. 

As teen specialists, we are seeing two types of teens right now. 
  1. For some teens it is torture not being able to socialize and see their friends. They never thought they would miss school and structure, but they do. 
  2. For others, it is heaven. No more constant worrying, exhaustion, stomach aches, and more. They are relaxed. BUT this will end. 

If your teen is socially anxious and suddenly thrilled to be home, it is time to REFRAME social distancing. Rather than looking at this time as avoidance, help your teen to view this as a time to reset. 

If your teen needs additional support to reframe or reset their thinking, online therapy can help your teen develop skills to expose themselves to their anxieties and experience managing them successfully!

How to Get Teens Motivated to Work from Home

Anyone else having a hard time getting motivated to work at home during our national stay home advisories? How about your teen? While today’s current events stemming from COVID-19 are no doubt stressful for everyone, teens and young adults who deal with anxiety and depression can find coping with the added stressors of society to be even more difficult… especially now that most of them are having to be home away from their normal routine.

One quick tip that I’ve found to help my own transition with having to get work done at home is to create a comfortable space where I can be productive. Yes, this meant creating a space away from my couch where I could dedicate certain times of the day to do work. Teens especially need a space of their own to do their school work, reading, etc. to help them prepare for coping with what could be a new normal for the next few weeks or so. In fact, studies have shown that organization can help those with anxiety reduce stress, improve sleep, improve relationships, make better food choices, and more.

I encourage all parents to work with your teens on creating a comfortable space where they can be focused, creative, and productive.

Here is a list of ideas that can help jumpstart your teen’s productivity and keep them motivated in a chaotic time.

  1. Get organized
  2. Get dressed in the morning
  3. Create checklists
  4. Create daily routines
  5. Designate a clean space for schoolwork
  6. Make time to get outdoors for fresh air
  7. Don’t forget to make time for meals and snacks
  8. Stay hydrated
  9. Unplug after working and take time to reflect on positive things
  10. Try to get to sleep and wake up during the same time each day

Does your teen need additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic? Sign up for our FREE online meet-up for teens hosted via video conference.

This group is for teens who are anxious, isolated, out of routine, and are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 shut down.

Join us to talk, to do artwork, stay connected to others, or simply just to share the space silently while being with others.

We are here for you. This is a space for you! No expectations. No judgements. Just a place to connect and belong.

Stay well!

Alanna

11 Ways to Minimize Anxiety During Stressful Times

Stress is a feeling of being under abnormal pressure. This pressure can come from different aspects of our day to day life including current events that we have absolutely no control over. Sometimes stressors feel like they’re building on top of one another to a point where we feel helpless. 

For teens with high anxiety, it’s important to look into strategies that can help manage or reduce anxiety in the long term, like skills therapy or medication. But everyone can benefit from other ways to reduce stress with steps you can take in the moment when anxiety starts to take hold. 

  1. Stand Up Straight: For immediate relief from anxiety, stand up, pull your shoulders back, plant your feet evenly and widely apart, and open your chest. Then breathe deeply. This posture, combined with deep breathing, helps your body remember that it’s not in danger right now, and that it is in control (not helpless).
  2. Watch a Funny Video: Watching a funny YouTube video, for example, will help you stop feeling anxious fast. Why? Because you can’t laugh and stay anxious at the same time, physiologically. Your body relaxes after laughing in a way that gets rid of anxiety. Plus, according to the Mayo Clinic, laughter brings in oxygen-rich air, which stimulates your heart and lungs, and spikes your endorphins.
  3. Stay Away from Sugar: It may be tempting to reach for something sweet when you’re stressed, but that cake pop can do more harm than good, as research shows that eating too much sugar can worsen anxious feelings. Instead of reaching into the candy bowl, drink a glass of water or eat some protein.
  4. Go Outside for A Walk: Exercise is a long-proven way to lower anxiety. In addition to boosting your level of feel-good neurotransmitters, a brisk walk clears your mind and gets you breathing more deeply again–and anxiety is intimately linked to shallow breathing.
  5. Listen to Relaxing Music: Turn down the base and update your Spotify playlist with soft tunes. Studies have shown that listening to relaxing music can actually calm your nervous system. 
  6. Do Something Productive: Checking something off your to-do list can help alleviate that one more thing you have to do. Making your bed, clearing off your desk, organizing your closet, for instance, can make you feel productive and relieve anxiety.
  7. Chew Gum: According to several studies, chewing gum can help you relax and promote wellbeing. One possible explanation is that chewing gum causes brain waves similar to those of relaxed people. Another is that chewing gum promotes blood flow to your brain.
  8. Practice Being Mindful: Mindfulness describes practices that anchor you to the present moment. It can help combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking. Some studies have suggested that mindfulness may help increase self-esteem, which in turn lessens symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  9. Cuddle With Your Pet: Positive physical contact can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol. This can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are physical symptoms of stress. Fun fact, humans aren’t the only animals who cuddle for stress relief. Chimpanzees also cuddle friends who are stressed.
  10. Light A Candle: Ever sit in front of a fireplace and instantly feel relaxed? Well lighting a candle can offer the same sensation. Light a candle or use essential oils to benefit from calming scents like lavender, orange, or sandalwood.
  11. Write It Out Of Your Mind: Write it down. Recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for. Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life.

Does Online Therapy Even Help?

Let’s face it! With the onset of the Coronavirus outbreak, the temptation to cancel your teen’s therapy is easy to give in to, even when online therapy is offered as an alternative. We are entering a new world and this virus, however inadvertently, will be changing how our health care is delivered. Analysts are talking more and more about the advent of telehealth. Believe it or not, the therapeutic field has been utilizing this option years before this pandemic. For example, many residential facilities for adolescents have out-of-state patients whose parents’ participate in family therapy with their child long distance with video conferencing. 

BUT WHAT ABOUT CONNECTION??

Parents who are not familiar with online therapy have a hard time imagining the dramatic break-throughs that can happen with video or telephone conferencing. The old argument used to be that if you aren’t in person, you cannot connect with them, but that is a fallacy. In fact, sometimes the opposite occurs because by not being in person, the therapist is  listening in a more focused manner: a sudden intake of breath, a whisper of a choked back sob, all speak volumes to the therapist. Not only that, but many teens are actually more relaxed and open when they are sharing from the comfort of their bedroom rather sitting in an office, feeling like a bug under a microscope. 

IS IT EFFECTIVE???

Research shows one form of delivery, face-to-face, phone or online is not better than the other. In fact, online therapy is shown to be just as effective for treating anxiety, depression, and trauma in teens as in person sessions. Why? Because the delivery is a tool, and a tool is only as good as the therapist utilizing it. Just as CBT, DBT, EMDR are not cure-alls but are tools that only an experienced and competent therapist can utilize effectively. In the hands of a bad therapist, all the tools in the world, all the office space, nice furniture, fancy beverages, other luxuries, or anything else will not make a difference to the well-being of your child. AND afterall, the well-being is the goal, creating a life worth living! 

Contact us today to learn more about online sessions with one of our teen Specialists at Mindful Healing

 

What Emotions Are Saying…

Our teens experience many overwhelming emotions, which can be uncomfortable for them, not to mention challenging to navigate as a parent or caregiver.

The emotional range our teens may experience may be anywhere from mild frustrations to intense anger, anxiety, sadness and happiness.

As parents we may see these feelings carried out in behaviors such as joking around, avoidance, screaming, and/or throwing things, etc. All of these behaviors are actions from experiencing an emotion.

Oftentimes, we may feel quick to jump in and try to solve a problem for our teen. Although this may feel effective in the moment, we could be missing important things our teens may be trying to tell us. This is because our emotions serve many functions.

WHAT DO EMOTIONS TELL US??

Emotions give us information and communicates to others.

They are a way for your teen to communicate and share an experience with you. Your teen may be smiling which lets you share in their happiness. When your teen is yelling they could be communicating that they feel frustrated.

Emotions motivate us.

They can help your teen accomplish tasks. For example, when your teen feels anxious they may feel more inclined to study. If your teen experiences anger, they may be more motivated to stand up for themselves.

Emotions help us feel connected.

When your teen experiences intense feelings, they may often feel open to others who demonstrate empathy and bring a sense of calmness. Teens also use feelings to feel connected to themselves. Anger can be used to validate our own feelings and perspective.

As a parent, by being mindful and attuned to your teen’s emotions in the moment, you can help decrease behavioral problems by listening to what their emotions are trying to communicate.

Celebrities Who Have Found DBT Useful

Just what is DBT Therapy?

Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, is a cognitive-behavioral treatment developed in the 1980s by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. originally developed to treat people who are suicidal or with borderline personality disorder. Today DBT is evidence-based to be effective for the treatment of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bi-polar disorder, self-destructive or impulsive behaviors, and substance abuse.

Those who may benefit from DBT often experience extremely intense, negative, and uncontrollable emotions and impulsive decision making. Individuals often experience these extreme emotions when interacting with others, for example, friends, family, or romantic partners, causing a great deal of conflict in their relationships.

The theory behind the approach is that some people are prone to react in a more intense manner toward emotional situations. DBT suggests that some people’s reactions to situations can increase far more quickly than the average person’s, attain a higher level of emotional stimulation, and take a significantly longer to return to baseline. These people see the world in black-and-white, and seem to always be jumping from one crisis to another. Because few people understand such reactions — they often feel alone and consistently invalidated — they don’t have any strategies for coping with intense emotions. DBT is a method for teaching coping skills that help in the moment.

Today, more people are getting behind the importance of mental health. In fact, many celebrities have expressed their own experiences with therapy and prioritizing mental wellness, making it less of a taboo topic from which others can draw inspiration.

In a recent interview with Teen Vogue, singer and actress Selena Gomez opened up about her feelings about therapy, praising DBT and how it has helped her change her life for the better. “I have this dream of mine that’s beyond all of this where I think that personally, it should be required in schools to be taught dialectical behavior therapy,” Selena said.

During Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus tour, singer and actress Lady Gaga sat down with Oprah to discuss her mental health in an emotionally candid interview. Gaga opens up about how DBT is a part of her mental health regimen. In addition to transcendental meditation, daily exercise, and “radical acceptance”, Gaga says that “medicine, therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive therapy,” are tools of choice to help her cope with some of life’s challenges.

Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams shared on the Happy Place podcast that fame has been detrimental to her mental health. She says that she once used to seek negative online criticism so that she could “sit in a hole of sadness.” “I think there was a period of time where I was very sad, and then I came out of that, and now it’s just really terrifying that you’re ever going to slip back into it.” Maisie then offers a more optimistic insight, “As soon as you start digging, you start asking yourself bigger questions than ‘Why do I hate myself?’ It’s more like, ‘Why do you make yourself feel this way?’ The answers to all of these questions really are within you.”

Mindful Healing LLC offer Dialectical Behavior Therapy for teens. Our Coping Skills Group helps teens with overwhelming emotions develop skills to live the life they love.

3 Ways to Help Your Teen See The Positive in Things

Anyone with teenagers knows that teenagers’ feelings can be intense. Even small issues can sometimes turn their world upside down and create an outlook of doom. And when life really gets hard, some teens don’t even know where to begin to find just a sliver of silver lining. As a parent, you of course can’t help but feel overwhelmed not knowing what to do or how to help your teen process their massive list of emotional stressors.

We’ve outlined three simple ways to help your teen see the positive during life’s challenges. Whether your teen has a seemingly minor issue, to a full blown crisis, these tips will help you help them.

ONE: Validate Their Feelings And Stressors

Reassure your teen that their feelings are valid and that what they are experiencing is real, even if you don’t quite understand the extent of their concerns or from where they may be stemming. Sometimes, simply having someone acknowledge you and your feelings can go a long way in coping and healing.

TWO: Acknowledge Positive Things Around You

In DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), we have a skill called Accumulating Positive Experiences/Emotions. Often times, when we are in the midst of negative emotions and feelings, we can’t readily acknowledge anything positive around us. Help your teen find their way out of this auto-pilot way of negative thinking by encouraging them to acknowledge the positive things in their life. Spend time identifying something they are grateful for, take notice of something good that happened to them that day, or remind them of something funny or exciting they did recently.

THREE: Identify New Ways To Add Positivity In Their Lives

Having something positive to look forward to can inspire hope and enthusiasm in life. Help your teen identify what short-term positive experiences they can begin to add to their routine. Does your teen have a short term goal they want to achieve? Is there a particular cause they value and would feel good contributing to? Perhaps there’s an activity your teen has always wanted to try? Whatever positive experience it is, encourage your teen to go for it while also making it your priority.

Adding positive experiences to our life is a great way to boost our mood long-term. Mindfulness and pleasant activities are shown to decrease depression and anxiety. Remind your teen that stress and feeling overwhelmed are normal feelings. They can feel both stressed AND have positive experiences.

One Skill To Boost Your Teen’s Happiness

February 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. Sure, performing a random act of kindness is intended to make the benefiting party feel good, but did you know that random acts of kindness can have positive impacts on the person giving the nice gesture?

Being kind can have a positive impact on your teen’s mood and physical health. Studies have shown that kindness can reduce stress, boost immune systems, and help reduce negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and depression. Afterall, kindness is chemical.

When random acts of kindness are practiced, neurochemicals that result in a sense of well-being are released. The same neural circuits that are involved in chemical “highs” are the same ones activated by kindness and compassion. Kindness literally can reduce physically and emotional pain because it releases dopamine, serotonin, and endogenous into our system (the natural chemicals responsible for happiness, mood regulation, and pain management).

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Random acts of kindness can enhance the release of oxytocin in interactions where two or more people are engaged in kind behavior. Oxytocin plays a role in forming social bonds such as trust among people, which is essential for teens because social connection is one of their primary developmental needs.

Acts of kindness can release hormones that contribute to a positive mood and overall well being. The practice is so effective it’s being formally incorporated into some types of psychotherapy. In DBT random acts of kindness is part of the Mindfulness Module, accumulating positive experiences skill, and gratitude skills.

These skills help teens manage feelings of depression, anxiety, and overwhelm. It utilizes mindfulness meditation, documenting gratitude, and acts of kindness that are incorporated into daily routines.

Speak with your teen about ways in which they can perform random acts of kindness at home, at school, or in the neighborhood. Encourage them to think of small gestures of kindness that they can incorporate into their daily routine. February is just a start to a lifelong practice of gratitude and kindness!

If your teen needs support with managing their emotions and learning how to bring mindfulness into their daily life contact us here to learn more.