HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW ANXIOUS AND STRESSED ADOLESCENTS ARE THESE DAYS?
It seems like negative thinking, overwhelm, and even depression plagues many of our young people.
This can be very worrisome and frustrating for parents, teachers, and guidance counselors. It often leaves them feeling helpless about what to do and confused about what is wrong.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE FLAGS: ANXIETY AND NEGATIVITY ARE SIGNS OF IMBALANCE
There are many important reasons why young people are experiencing low moods and high stress. Anxiety and depression often feed each other because hopelessness leads to overwhelm, and worry creates more powerlessness.
These heavy feelings drive unhealthy coping methods like anger, withdrawing, self-harm, drug & alcohol use, procrastinating, acting out, or pretending like everything is okay while they collapse inside.
Even if the teens in your life aren’t suffering from mood issues, you may notice a lot of “negative thinking”. They might have a “ho-hum” belief that life is out of their control and “just happens” to them. Or they may “negatively forecast” about what will go wrong in the future and see the “down side” of everything. This way of thinking usually becomes habitual and automatic, and needs to be re-wired now before it becomes a way of life.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP YOUNG PEOPLE DE-STRESS AND FEEL POSITIVE
1) MODEL POSITIVITY: You’ve heard the expression “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. If you would like to see more positive, powerful thinking in your teen, begin to embody this yourself. Check your own negative thinking and anxiety: do you worry, negatively project into the future, hold yourself or others back because of fear, lack confidence, or feel powerless in life? Our young people are mirroring what they have learned from us…so get conscious of what you say and how you behave and SHOW them how to be more positive.
2) UNSCHEDULE: We often set up our lives in a way that creates stress- over-scheduling and having too much to do makes it impossible to feel calm and centered. Young people are learning that being overwhelmed is a normal way to function. Being out of balance is bad for all of us- and a child’s anxiety let’s adults know it’s time to make changes. Even though you can’t eliminate everything in your schedule, make a commitment to dial back your commitments. Consider making one night a week “family night” where you don’t have anything on the schedule except going for a bike ride or having dinner together.
3) CONSCIOUSLY CONNECT: If your family scatters to their electronic corners when you are together, it’s time to unplug for a purpose. Will they object? Yup. Will you? Probably, but that’s okay. Teens are not going to ask you to connect with them and probably don’t think they need it. But time together translates into a feeling of support and love. Although we all need down time, but the intense amount of technology in our lives causes overstimulation and disconnect. Plus, social media and negative news have many downsides. Help your child (and yourself) by carving out “technology-free” time. Talk, take a walk, ride bikes, play a game, garden, eat without being in front of the TV, volunteer as a family, and did I mention TALK yet?
4) GET INTO NATURE: There’s a reason why you actually feel better when you take a walk, especially if it’s in nature. First, those natural anti-depressants get kicking. Second, the chi of trees is so high that they literally will take the toxins from us and return clean energy to our beings. If you want to feel better when stressed, go take a walk- in nature preferably. Do this with your teens to show them how exercise and nature are a daily part of maintaining a positive mood.
5) ASK HOW YOU CAN HELP… AND ACTUALLY LISTEN: This might seems strange, but if you want to know how to help someone, ASK! Communicating is underused as a way to solve problems. But it’s not just asking that helps- it’s HOW we ask and HOW we listen. So try this: ask your teen “How would you like me to help you during this time? How can I support you?” Then LISTEN to the answer, without defensiveness or needing to control their path. Just listen. Your presence means more than your solutions. And always validate by saying “I am so sorry that happened to you. ” Ask them if they would like your help to solve the problem or just want a listening ear. If they are ready for counseling, we can teach them the skills and tools for a lifetime of happiness.
Kids need to learn how powerful they are. We can teach them the practical tools and skills to consciously manifest their lives. Have them start by making affirmations like “I am strong and can handle anything” or “Life flows easily”. Making Vision Boards is a fun way to help them become powerful creators. Deep breathing and meditation are instant fixes for anxiety.