I have a bunch of teen followers on my Tumblr account and talk to quite a few of them. Most of their questions and our conversations are private because they want me to know who they are. Sometimes they’ll be brave and let me post it on my profile for everyone to read and relate to if they’re struggling with something similar.
I asked one of girls to do me a favor and let me know what topics would be helpful to write about for my newest blog posts. She did an awesome job and ironically compiled a list of the most common struggles I also see in my office.
Most of these questions aren’t easily answered as there are almost always underlying issues that need to be addressed. However, that takes time. Here are some tips that can help in the mean time.
1. How to deal with complete and utter heartbreak
I answered this one in detail here.
2. Issues with self esteem and eating
Eating disorders usually stem from anxiety and desire for control in an environment where you feel out of control. There’s no simple generalizable answer for this topic. Eating disorders can be really dangerous. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any disorder. 10% of people struggling with anorexia will die from it. I highly recommend therapy to work on this.
In the mean time, focus your obsessions on being over the top healthy instead of killing your body. Download myfitnesspal app and track everything you eat. Don’t go under 1200 calories per day or your metabolism will start to shut down. You’ll start getting depressed and can’t sleep which will exacerbate a bunch of other symptoms that are gonna make your life suck and really screw with your mental health. In war when the goal is to get information out of prisoners, we starve and sleep deprive them. It’s literally the official recipe to make someone crazy.
More important than the calories pay attention to the nutrition tab. Cut sugar as low as possible, eat zero trans fat, get energy from healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and avocados and eat as many vegetables as you can. That will give you a pretty healthy diet.
A lot of people are really skinny but still feel fat. Exercising and building muscle will help you feel less fat. Kayla Itsines guides are my favorite.
3. Feelings and emotions!! How to deal with them.
This one’s super complicating with no “answer”. Although, I fully believe The Class will help immensely when they open a studio in Los Angeles.
a. Headspace app for meditation. It will strengthen the “rest and digest” (aka chill out) part of your brain and you’ll be able to separate from your emotions and just sort of watch them go by (read more here).
b. Some people need to connect more to their emotions and some people need to feel them less. To feel them less, try adapting a third person view of them. Like you’ll say to yourself “wow, I’m crazy pissed off right now.” or “omg I’m so sad it’s crushing me. It feels like there’s a 50lb weight on my chest and I can’t get up.” Acknowledge them and watch how they shift by themselves over time. You’ll start to see how you don’t need to act on them. Don’t do anything about it. Just say to yourself “jeez, my heart will not stop racing. I’m so anxious right now” and take some deep breaths. Don’t call the ex, don’t get angry with the friend, don’t act on the feelings. They’ll change on their own. Be assertive and act from the rational thinking part of your mind when you’re not overwhelmed and in the moment.
4. How to be more open in therapy and progress.
I want to write a full answer to this one in a separate post. When I do, I’ll come back and link it here. It’s too important to give a quick answer.
It really involves a fear of being accepted. Brene Brown speaks to this in one of my favorite Ted Talks. And psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Irvin Yalom believes the process of being open in therapy is the therapy itself.
For now, be brave! The more you can say what you’re thinking and feeling out loud the faster you’ll get better. You’ll be proud of yourself and feel like a stronger person. 🙂
5. Depression and having no motivation to even go to work.
Depression is often anger turned inwards. Could you be really angry with someone or a situation and trying to deny it?
Research shows exercise to be equally effective as antidepressants for a lot of people. It’s very important. If you don’t know what to do, Kayla Itsines has an awesome guide that’s really easy to understand. The workouts are really hard and will definitely increase your cardiovascular strength as well as build muscle. You’ll feel better physically and emotionally which will build self-esteem.
6. Stressful situations
Write everything down.
What is your desired outcome?
What are the variable factors?
What’s the worst thing that could happen?
What would you do if it does happen and how would you handle it?
Write down a step by step plan for handling it. And simply follow the list. There’s nothing else to worry about because you’ve controlled what you can control and will be as prepared as you’re able to be. Then you let go of the things you can’t control.
7. What to do when your safe place isn’t available
I like this question!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with a safe place, look here. It’s totally worth the time to read through it and do the exercise. I thought it was super interesting to see what kind of picture and memory started to flood my mind.
When you’re in a situation that’s too strong to bring your mind to the safe place and calm down, smells work really well. I use safe place when treating someone with EMDR. If they have too strong of an abreaction and want to calm down and stop, I’ve taught them to access their their safe place in their mind. Another way I do this is to have them pick a small plastic container filled with scent beads. The scent will bring you somewhere really quick. Think grandmas cookies, or Christmas trees. Something you have a strong positive emotional attachment to.
8. How to take a break and clear your mind without turning to things like Xanex to relax
- Meditate with headspace app
- Use the positive emotional scent
- Exercising is super important
- Go to the beach if you have one near
- Take a bath or shower
- Call someone who’s not related or involved in the situation at all and vent
- Journal and write everything down. First get out everything that comes to mind and then go back and edit it over and over again until it’s as short as possible and makes your point very clearly. It will help you calm down and understand what you’re feeling and why.
There are many ways to deal with each of these questions. I definitely didn’t give a definitive “fix” for the problem. Just some ideas to get your mind thinking and hopefully focus in a positive direction, instead of harmful or negative. As I said before, there is almost always underlying emotional pain that needs to be brought to the surface and allowed to heal. Bandaids only stop the bleeding, they don’t heal the wound. If your teen is struggling with any of these issues, call me today at 424-333-6660 for a free consultation. Let’s talk and see if I could be a good fit to help your family.