Mind Body

Proven Strategies to Beat Teenage Depression

When I first went to college, my roommate, Kat, asked me when I was going to do my laundry… daily.  Oddly, it seemed she was overly concerned about me having clean clothes. With my mis-used intellect, I had bought a little over 2 weeks worth of underwear to procrastinate the chore, much to my roommate’s dismay! The day finally came when it was time for laundry or wearing bathing suit bottoms under a bridesmaid dress. I announced to Kat that I was going to do laundry. She looked nervous as she asked to join me. This was getting weird. Maybe she was scared of the basement or of laundry theft? Nope, she had never done laundry in her life and was embarrassed she needed help.

By the time we reached the basement, 2 of her friends joined us…now I realized I was there to teach my fellow students the fine art of laundry! The first weeks of college, I taught laundry 101, grocery shopping and coupon use, how to change a flat tire, how to write checks and balance a checkbook. I enjoyed this because I saw how everyone shifted after learning new life skills. They were empowered, they taught others, they, in the words of Napoleon Dynamite “had mad skills.”

Why I tell this story, in a blog about anxiety and depression? I want to explain how empowering kids with life skills can make a HUGE impact on how they feel when leaving home. If a teen has been utilizing practical domestic ones like those above plus mental, holistic skills like below, they will feel more confident. This is one aspect of ending depression and anxiety in teens/ young adults.

Having “mad skills” means feeling like you can conquer challenges. Tools to face the stress of academics, the anxiety of finding your place in a new environment, the challenge of making new friends….begin with feeling empowered. Learning and using life skills creates an amazing confidence plus a resilience that kids carry through life.

Parents are doing their best to raise children following well-meaning advice from all types of sources, so I am not here to blame. I am here to give practical tools to get kids off on the right foot or to get them back on track! I see teens, young adults, and adults in my office that have no idea how to cope with work, tasks, chores, and life problems. They are usually full of anxiety and depressed. However, we quickly start implementing some of the tools below to wake up their inner joy. It is all a choice if this is a fun challenge that you know you can tackle or if this is an insurmountable task. 

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” ~Charles Swindoll

Proven ways to improve your joy ~ 5 pro methods to beat depression and anxiety:

Track your happiness. Each night write down things you are grateful for, things that make you happy, things that are going well, etc. This programs your brain to focus on the good. It also alters neural pathways wiring your brain for joy! ( 1,2)

Eating Healthy foods. A healthier diet improves mood, energy and gut microbes that effect your brain chemistry. (3, 4)

Enjoy Nature: Unplug and get out in nature. A 10 min walk outside is proven to be more effective than most antidepressants (5, 6, 7)

Breath: 5 min of rhythmic breathing (ex. inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 6) while visualizing an expanding glow at your heart area, shifts you from a sympathetic (stressed, flight or fight mode to a parasympathetic, relaxed mode) This also helps with focused studying = more information learned in less time. (8, 9, 10)

Steer your own ship: Take charge by assisting and writing down your goals. Surround yourself with positive people. Say no to things that take away from you achieving your goals. (11)

Bonus: Avoid complaining or hanging out with complainers. Complaining keeps you in the problem rather than working through the problem to the solution.

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