Relieve Stress

Screen Shot 2015 03 20 at 2.49.09 PM Relieve StressToday, over a quarter of teens say they experience extreme stress at school. Now, experts are concerned that as stress rises in adolescents, they will be setting themselves up to form bad stress habits at an early age. Stress related behavior includes lack of sleep and exercise, as well as poor eating habits. Experiencing stress for extended periods can lead to depressive thoughts and behaviors as well. Beginning these stress-related habits young could prove dangerous as teens grow.

Often, as parents, we respond to the stress levels of our children by wanting to manage or alleviate their stress. In reality, not all stress is negative. A healthy level of stress can motivate students to learn to manage tasks, prioritize, and get things done. Teens pick up on our cues. How do I react to stress? My teen most likely will begin responding similarly.

As I learn to let go of my desire to micromanage my teen’s academic stress, I learn to see how he responds to the stress of school in his own way. Experts question what academic stress looks like in teens, expressing concern that as attention spans shrink, stress is more related to tasks that are required of the teen but not desired.

The average teen is experiencing extended screen time and decreased exercise time. Exercising and engaging in physical activity are the quickest way to relieve stress. Noticing when our teens are stressed gives us an opportunity as parents to suggest healthy outlets for their stress. And, it gives us the opportunity to encourage our teens to expand their view of what they believe they can accomplish. Our teens are strong and resilient. While stress can certainly be unhealthy in high doses, it can also be useful in motivating our teens to begin practicing good habits rather than bad. Engage with your teen about his or her level of stress. Walk them through their choices in how to respond and react, and take note of how you are reacting to stress in your own life. Your teens are watching for healthy cues and patterns.

What is Mindfulness

soup girl Medium 257x300 What is MindfulnessThroughout counseling circles, the practice of “mindfulness” is getting a lot of recognition. For many of us, mindfulness may be a new term. I wanted to take some time to explain mindfulness and the benefits that it is said to promote.

Mindfulness is purposefully slowing your mind down to focus on what you are experiencing in that particular moment. So often in our modern culture, we are trained to multitask. We aren’t just walking from one building to another, cooking dinner, or even brushing our teeth- we are thinking about what’s next. In those moments we are making lists, processing emotions, and thoughts, all while accepting new information. Busyness runs throughout our culture. Anxiety is on the rise. Mindfulness- in contrast- is a tool counselors have been using to try and slow down the day. In this process, stimuli from the outside are processed piece-by-piece and filtered through a screen of pausing and relaxing.

Yoga and Meditation are often forms of Mindfulness that are taught through counseling to be intentional in helping bring Mindfulness about. Typically these exercises begin with focusing on breathing and slowly allowing yourself to receive the benefits of self-control, patience, reasoning, lessened anxiety, improved concentration, and increased flexibility and attention.

So take some time in your day to stop, notice your breathing and your surroundings.  Become attentive to the present moment and exhale the tension and inhale a full complete breath. Practice a mindful moment each day and you might find that it helps you slow down and experience life more fully.  You might also find that you enjoy your co-workers, employees, spouse and even kids a little more when you are more mindful of the moments. Living a slower and purposeful life is one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself and the ones you love.