Self Care for Adolescents
Creating healthy habits in response to stress
Teenagers in the 21st century are facing an incredible amount of pressure. College admission planning often starts as early as the seventh grade. On top of this, social media presents unrealistic standards for body image, economic success, and social popularity which far outpace the social pressures teenagers faced before the digital age.
According to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, “the future of any society depends on its ability to foster the healthy development of the next generation. Extensive research on the biology of stress now shows that healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body and brain. Such toxic stress can have damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan.”
Thankfully, the fields of neuroscience, yoga, and mindfulness have made tremendous progress in this area, providing us with the skills to effectively manage these sources of stress.
Over the past 6 years, I've been gifted with the opportunity to share these skills with children of all ages in the classroom.
Now, I'm excited to be able to help teens across the country using a web based course. I'm inviting your teens to join me for a weekly live web course.
Monday nights, September 16th through October 21, 2019
8:30-9:00 pm EST
During this 6 week course students will learn to identify stressors in their life as well as in-the-moment practices to support their well being. We will meet once a week online for 30 minutes. Classes will be recorded and can be viewed at a later date.
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Key Skills covered in this course:
In school we are told to pay attention, but we are rarely taught how to pay attention. In this course teens will learn to build their “focus muscle” and how to recognize and manage distractions.
Frequently teens hold themselves to a different standard than their peers and judge themselves more harshly for the negative events in their lives. Self compassion is the ability to correct this by valuing our own human experience, recognizing our needs, and learning how we can meet them.
Our emotional state is constantly changing in response to the events in our lives. As humans, we are often unaware of our own emotional state, leading us to react in ways that may not truly serve us. In this course, teens will learn the skill of responding to these life events with intention instead of merely reacting.
When we feel overwhelmed, burnout, tired, or stressed, we tend to disconnect from ourselves, others and our environment. TV, cell phones, alcohol/drugs, video games, food, and risky behaviors are some of the unhealthy ways we tune out to cope with these feelings. Connection practices help us objectively observe the present moment. We can connect to our internal experience, we can connect with others, and connect to the environment we are in. Connection practices help students recognize when they or others are having a hard time, check in with what they need to support themselves, and care for themselves in that moment.
Many teens develop the unhealthy habit of negative self talk. With an awareness that not every thought we think is true about ourselves and others it empowers us to decide what we want to believe about ourselves and others and develop healthy habits of mind.
Our bodies cannot differentiate between real and imagined stress. Stress engages our sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight). Prolonged engagement of the SNS turns into toxic stress which impacts attention, emotion and mood regulation, sleep, and learning. Contrast to the sympathetic nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system (rest/digest). When engaged, the parasympathetic nervous system calms the body and mind, and increases access to our prefrontal cortex which supports executive functioning. Specific breath-work practices engage our parasympathetic nervous system to help our body get back to homeostasis.
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HERE ARE WHAT SOME TEENS HAVE SAID ABOUT PRACTICES THEY LEARNED FROM PREVIOUS COURSES:
“I would say that I have felt an increase in my well-being. I apply these practices to small dilemmas and situations that my mind blows out of proportion and that actually aren't as important as I think. by being aware of my emotions and thoughts at times like these, I'm able to choose how to respond instead of just responding. While this hasn't made a huge difference (yet), as I do this more, I'll get better at it, which will end up majorly impacting my well-being. Taking this course has been such a special and educational experience for me. As a high school student who is constantly stressed, the practices that we do and the things we learn have helped me not only deal with the stress, but become a more aware, understanding, and compassionate person- to both myself and others.” Junia, 15