The drive to get good grades and gain acceptance into elite colleges, combined with participation on sports teams and other after-school activities, and hours of homework mix together to make teenagers the most stressed group of people in America when school is in session, according to a 2014 American Psychological Association survey.
Stress is a universal term, but is unique to the individual. We all have our own personal definition of stress. How do you define stress? Does stress cause you uncomfortable emotions of physical sensations/ pains? How does stress affect your emotional, physical, and social functioning?
S = PXB - Stress = Pain x Blocking
Although pain is inevitable, stress is optional. Blocking increases our stress level. Once we accept pain, both physical and emotional, we will be better able to reduce stress. Participants can have a shift in perspective, which may include realizing that one has control over their level of blocking and therefore, have control over their level of stress. Teens often struggle with feelings of powerlessness, helplessness, and loss of control which can decrease through the integration of this equation to life situations. One can also have control over the choices they make.
Examples of blocking:
Pushing away or denying the pain/Denial
Clinging to or holding onto the pain
Should haves Could haves Would haves
Mindfulness offers a sense of control.
FORMAL AND INFORMAL PRACTICES
Formal practices are done by setting aside a specific period of time to practice mindfulness. Examples of this are:
Guided Sitting Meditation
Non-guided Sitting Meditation
Shorter – Taking Ten Breaths
Brief Breathing Meditation
Short Sitting Meditation
Mindful Homework/Test Taking*
Informal practices bring moment-to-moment awareness to anything you do in your life. With informal practice, you will be able to zero in on knowing what you are doing as you are actually doing it. Some examples of tasks you can bring mindful awareness to:
Eating, Driving, Showering, Doing Household Chores (e.g., dishes, folding laundry), Exercise, Moments in your day with friends or family
HOW PRACTICES HELP
SELF-CARE VS. BEING SELFISH CARING VS. WORRYING/ CARING AND PLANNING/ WORRYING AND LETTING GO
It is important to care about things, people, other peoples problems, your problems, but when it goes too far, it turns into worrying, which will not affect an outcome.
Planning can affect outcome. Having a good plan of action can lead to change and an outcome. For example, if you are depressed, create a plan to feel better.
LETTING GO AND FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Letting go doesn’t mean you forgive. You just aren’t holding onto it anymore.
If you are worrying you aren’t letting something go.
Learn to have trust in yourself and others. We hold others accountable based on past experiences or times where people have hurt us or broken our trust. Mindfulness teaches us how to not cling or hold on to the past, which is different than just openly trusting everyone.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
You will be reminded each week to not shame or judge yourself if you don’t practice mindfulness. Considering personal strengths and weaknesses touches on feeling “less than” or feelings of “failure” and will give you a new perspective.
RIDING THE WAVE
Nothing stays the same, at every moment in our lives things change. Mindfulness will help you learn that things will pass.
Henry M. Gunn High School senior Cole McFaul, who in the video recounts the unexpected loss of a close friend to suicide, joined teachers, administrators, and fellow students to introduce mindfulness training to the school’s regular physical education program. By reducing stress and raising awareness of mental health, the training is designed to improve student well-being and change the unhealthy school culture.
Teens and Depression
Teen life, the pressures of being a teen today and the epidemic of recent teen suicides.
Although self-destructive behavior has been a problem for a few years now, this School District has failed to appropriately address the issue. Where some kids do end up committing suicide, others might engage in less serious destructive behaviors including cutting, drug use to stay up at night (e.g., illegal use of Adderal and Ritalin, not used as prescribed for ADHD), lack of sleep to meet the demands and rigors set forth by teachers regarding quantity of homework, binge drinking, and, among injured athletes, continuing to play in order to be scouted for recruitment. These negative behaviors, are the norm and are often commonplace amongst the local high schools.
When it comes to stressed students, schools and parents often acknowledge that there is a problem. But few take action to change things. It could be your son or daughter or your high school student that we’re talking about here. This problem knows no boundaries and no stereotypes.
What can parents and educators do to help kids? I have some suggestions. Please look these over, try them.
Suggestions to Parents
Look for red flags in your kids: changes in eating, and sleeping, reduced enjoyment in previously favored activities.
Concerned about your teen? Err on the side of caution. It is better to be safe than sorry. This might require you to get your teen to the appropriate doctor or mental health professional.
High School Student Recommendation:
It helps to not put pressure on your teen to take the most rigorous classes, especially if they’re already feeling pressure.
Remind your teen that success isn’t about having a 4.0 GPA. It’s about having life skills and values like accountability, resourcefulness, honesty, and the like. Suggest that they just do their best, and let them know that’s good enough!
Remember that your teen is still a teenager—not an adult—and that they need your support and love. Through this a sense of safety can be created: your teen can come to you if he or she needs to talk to you, and won’t be yelled at or get in trouble.
Suggestions to School Administration
There is a point where having a high volume of homework doesn’t increase outcome regarding future success. Find this point, and step back from it.
Self-care for school administration, too, is hugely important in creating a healthy school community.
Pay attention to signs and changes in your student’s behaviors in and out of the classroom and report any concerns to the appropriate person(s). Again, err on the side of caution; it is always better to be safe than sorry.
High School Student Recommendation:
Doing five-plus hours of homework per night is going to cause sleep deprivation, unneeded stress, anxiety, depression and worry. Give us a break!
Teachers can be flexible with the amount of homework they give, the frequency of tests they administer, and due dates for assignments!
Teach basic life skills that can be applied to today and prepare students for their future unlike archaic academia that isn’t useful in life.
Can Mindfulness Meditation Prevent Teen Suicide?