Teen Healthy Mind

Healthy Mind

A healthy mind is key to creating a healthy life. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, & behave. It governs how we handle stress, relate to others, & make choices. By learning how to train your mind to be more calm and resilient when faced with life’s stressors, you can deepen your awareness, connection to yourself and others, and identify when you may need some additional support.

 

7 Ways to Develop Mental Strength

#1 Develop your Self-awareness

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Self-awareness is the key. How can you change or improve any aspect of your life if you are not aware that this part of your life requires attention? Self-awareness is essential because it gives you a better understanding of yourself, including your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and motivations. It empowers you to make changes and build on your areas of strength as well as identify areas where you want to make improvements. It is the first step to developing your mental strength.

Some ways to develop your self-awareness:

  • Practice mindfulness & meditation. Yes, meditate often, even if only for 5 minutes at a time.
  • Practice deep breathing.
  • Keep a journal – practice daily self-reflection. Check out BLOOM’s self- discovery Daily Journal HERE.
  • Write down your goals, plans, and priorities.
  • Ask trusted friends to describe you.

#2 Make Time for Quiet Reflection

Between your hectic schedule, your phone constantly calling for your attention, and the pressure to be productive, there seems to be little room for quiet time in your life.  Setting aside 10 or 15 minutes a day to be alone with your thoughts is essential to building your mental strength. It’s a choice, and thus it’s your choice to make time for quiet reflection in your day. Doing so is an important and integral part of growth and renewal. It reduces stress and restores mental wellness.

Quiet reflection allows your brain to rest and helps you pay attention better. It also gives you a chance to turn down the inner noise and increase awareness of what matters most. It cultivates mindfulness through recognition and appreciation of the present moment. Why would you want to deprive yourself of such a positive way to develop your mental strength?

Some ways to make time for quiet reflection:

  • Do more meditation – make it a daily practice.
  • Do more journaling. Check out BLOOM’s self- discovery Daily Journal HERE.
  • Go out for a walk by yourself, if possible, in nature – take your dog with you if you have one, s/he will love you for it!
  • Practice mindful coloring – get yourself a mindfulness coloring book, they are amazing.
  • Look out the window next time you are a passenger in a car instead of looking at your phone.

#3 Challenge Yourself - Step Outside your Comfort Zone

Stepping outside your comfort zone is another step toward developing your mental strength. Have you ever heard the quote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” (Walsh, n.d. )? So, what does it mean to step outside your comfort zone? It means doing things that you are not comfortable with doing. It encourages you to test what you believe to be your limits and discover that those limits are often self-imposed. They are not necessarily a reflection of what you are actually capable of.

Remember that taking risks, regardless of their outcome, are growth experiences that will enrich your mental strength. Every time you try something new, and allow yourself to be open to whatever experience arises, you are learning and expanding your repertoire of life skills and self-knowledge. As a result, you also expand the size of your comfort zone and you become better equipped to deal with new challenges. You also become more productive, more adaptable to change, and a lot more creative. Try it and see for yourself!

A few ways to step out of your comfort zone:

  • Hang out with people who value stepping out of their comfort zone.
  • Throw out things you have not used in 1 year.
  • Take a day offline.
  • Have a day of kindness.
  • Smile to strangers.
  • Eat something unusual.
  • See failure as a teacher.
  • Look for role models of resilience.

#4 Practice Gratitude

Did you know that scientists have been studying the practice of gratitude very closely? What have they found? Research shows that practicing gratitude on a daily basis can:

    • Enhance your long-term happiness by 10%, Enhance your positive emotions, increase self-esteem, and strengthen family relationships in times of stress.
    • It can also make you more optimistic, more giving, and optimistic.
    • Gratitude improves our overall physical health.

All those benefits are crucial to the development of mental strength, therefore you should practice gratitude without the slightest hesitation.

Some ways you can practice gratitude:

  • Keep a gratitude journal and add one thing to it every day.
  • Tell someone you love them and how much you appreciate them.
  • Notice the beauty in nature each day.
  • Say thank you for the little things your loved ones do for you, things you normally take for granted.
  • Commit to one day a week when you won’t complain about anything.
  • Smile more often!

#5 Be Kind to Yourself

Self-compassion and being kind to yourself should never be confused with self-pity. Kindness toward oneself is simply recognizing that life can be difficult at times and that you need to do things to make life a little easier. That is not a bad thing.

Just as important as it is to be kind to others, it’s equally important to practice kindness toward yourself. This is the power of acceptance and growth. Being kind to yourself was found to promote happiness and confidence, not to mention that how you treat yourself sets the tone for how others will treat you. Studies show that self-compassion helps your brain function more efficiently and improves your immune system. Positive self-talk boosts your self-esteem and sense of self-worth, which can empower and motivate you to turn a bad day into a good day. That is a sign of mental strength. In light of all these benefits, it certainly does not hurt to give self-compassion a try, does it?

Try these ways to be kind to yourself:

  • Learn to calm your mind – yes, meditate more!
  • Spend time with people who do good things, are uplifting, and positive.
  • If you stumble, be your own best friend.
  • Write yourself a love letter.
  • Think of a way to make your life easier, then do it.
  • Respect yourself fully.
  • Simply remind yourself why it’s smart to be kind to yourself.

#6 Take Good Care of your Body

Taking care of your body helps you care for your mind. That’s a golden rule. Mental and physical health are very closely linked. One often affects the other. It’s the body-mind connection. Studies show that your physical health has huge impacts on how you feel, how your mind functions, and your emotions. Taking care of your body means increased energy levels, a better ability to accomplish your daily goals, and an increased capacity to handle daily problems and challenges that arise in your life. It also helps you concentrate on any given task, which means that your tasks will take less time to complete. It also influences your decision-making skills. Do you see how taking care of your body and your health will be a huge asset in your efforts to develop your mental strength?

Some good ways for you to take care of your body:

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits.
  • Find a physical activity you like and exercise as often as you can.
  • Get plenty of ZZZZ’s.
  • Don’t use tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.
  • Oh, and yes, meditate more!

#7 Take a Step toward your Dreams

As you now know, mental strength is crucial to reaching your goals. One way to cultivate your mental strength is to take a first step toward your dreams. Mental strength and taking steps toward achieving dreams do feed into each other. It’s a very powerful feedback loop. As you take those first steps you may feel afraid as you are stepping out of your comfort zone. That’s completely normal. But as you climb past the first small steps that you set for yourself you will feel less anxious, more confident, and more comfortable pushing your boundaries. You will also learn to be realistic, humble, and to set achievable deadlines for your dreams. This will help you avoid unnecessary failures that could discourage you from moving forward. And as a result of all this, your mental strength will grow bigger and stronger.

Some ways to take a step toward your dreams:

  • Don’t wait until the conditions are perfect – the best time to start is NOW.
  • Believe in your dream, visualize it, feel it as if it was already happening.
  • Take one step at a time – set realistic deadlines and goals.
  • Go for it and enjoy it!
You Are Enough

You are Enough

Written by Dr. RJ

  |  Reviewed by Team BLOOM

Self-worth is a measure of how much you respect yourself. It is not determined by what others think of you or the accomplishments you have made — it comes from within. You are inherently worthy and can give yourself the love you desire. It is a choice you can consciously make everyday and with practice it will get easier.

Self-acceptance is probably the greatest gift you can offer yourself. Self-acceptance is unconditional: it means accepting you as you are, faults and all. If we make self-acceptance or self-love conditional, the reality is that we will never be satisfied with ourselves.

The truth is that our bodies are continuously evolving and will never be the same as they were the day before. If we put our self-worth on something as fluid as our appearances, we will perpetually ride the emotional roller coaster of body preoccupation and humiliation.

If you want to alter your appearance, do it for yourself. However, keep in mind that your body image should not determine your value. A lovely body or a gorgeous face will not last forever nor change the way you truly feel about yourself inside. If your self-worth is based only on how you look, then imagine how your self-worth could change from day to day. Explore self-worth beyond the boundaries of your appearance. Once you understand who you are and are content with that, you can find serenity even while you navigate life’s unavoidable highs and lows.

The most important thing to remember and repeat to yourself is that you are already whole. You are unique and you are enough just the way you are.

I AM Affirmations

I AM Affirmations

An affirmation is a positive statement that is true and that offers encouragement or emotional support. Affirmations are a powerful way to shape and change our beliefs into our thoughts, and these thoughts into our actions — the things we tell ourselves to say and do. They are a structured way to practice positive new thoughts. When we hear and practice these affirmations we are consciously and subconsciously practicing new thought patterns. These thought patterns will become new habits of thinking and behaving, leading to a better sense of self and unity. Because affirmations are practices of new thoughts and your thoughts create your reality, the importance of daily practice becomes clear. Each affirmation we hear strengthens us and creates a sense of confidence, empowerment, and unity.

  1. I AM Strong and Resilient.
  2. I AM Smart, Creative, & Love Learning New Things.
  3. I AM Worthy and Valuable.
  4. I AM Brave, Confident, & Courageous.
  5. I AM Positive and Find Inspiration in the Beauty that Surrounds Me.
  6. I AM Unique and Talented.
  7. I AM Grateful and Giving.
  8. I AM Calm, Mindful, & Reflective.
  9. I AM Honest, Trustworthy, & Respectful.
  10. I AM Helpful, Capable, & Resourceful.
  11. I AM Patient, Flexible, & Adaptable.
  12. I AM Hardworking, Determined, & Focused.
  13. I AM Open Minded and Have An Open Heart.
  14. I AM Just As Important As Everyone Else and Everyone Else Is Just as Important As Me.
  15. I AM Compassionate and Forgiving.
  16. I AM Kind, Caring, & Thoughtful.
  17. I AM Loved and Blessed.
  18. I AM Wild, Adventurous, & Free to Be Me.
  19. AND Being Me is Always Enough!

Take a moment to thank yourself for doing this work today. Every day you show up can make a difference in your life.
To borrow some wisdom adapted from the incredible leader, Mahatma Gandhi, affirm to yourself:

My beliefs become my thoughts.

My thoughts become my words. 

My words become my actions. 

My actions become my habits. 

My habits become my values. 

My values become my destiny. 

 

 

Create a DIY Anxiety Relief Toolkit

How to Create a DIY Anxiety Relief Tool Kit

Written by Dahyana P. Schlosser, PMHNP-BC

For those who struggle with anxiety, the creation of a personalized Anxiety Relief Tool Kit can make a world of a difference. These kits place relief at your fingertips wherever you may be.

When put together in a thoughtful way, they have the ability to help a person stay in control of their anxious symptoms. Your kit can be a small bag that you keep in your purse or backpack. It can also be a box or a small mint tin. Really, it can be whatever you want it to be. The point is to keep all of the parts together in an easily accessible space.

You can make multiple versions of your Anxiety Relief Tool Kit and keep them in special places like your desk at work, your car, or anywhere else you frequent.

Everyone can have a toolkit, including children. Helping a child to put together a toolkit that they can use at home, in school, or in any other setting that causes them anxiety can be a powerful way to empower them to cope with their anxiety.

In order to make an Ultimate Anxiety Relief Tool Kit, you will need to make sure you have something to engage each of your senses.

Tip #1: Something for your hands and body

Rubik’s cubes are great for this! They engage your mind and hands in an activity that undoubtedly will divert your anxious energy.

Fidget toys such as this ingenious cube consolidate multiple fidget-worthy activities into one item. Roll a ball. Click some buttons. Rotate a joystick. It is so awesome because it is small and discrete. As a result, it allows the user the ability to fidget and take out their anxious energy in almost any setting.

In addition, stress balls, pencil toppers, velcro, pipe cleaners, and poster tack or Play-Doh can all be great anxiety relief tools.

Anything with texture, such as a soft towel or blanket are nice to hold on to and rub between your hands or fingers. Depending on how big your particular tool kit is, you may need to cut whatever material you choose down to an appropriate size. You may find you like having a small one for school and a larger one for home.

Tip #2: Something to Smell

Engaging your sense of smell can be so helpful! Smells, especially ones that remind us of pleasant memories are known to help calm anxiety.

Quick mindfulness exercise: Think back to a time when you felt really serene and calm. Where were you? What did you see? Most importantly for this exercise: what were you smelling? If possible, try to pinpoint that smell. Describe it. Then, brainstorm ways to capture it and have it in your tool kit.

If you can’t pinpoint a smell. Or, if the smell you remember is impossible to recreate, try some of these:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Jasmine
  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Vanilla

Many scents can be found in the form of oils, soaps, lotions, and of course in other organic states. Lotions and oils in particular can engage more than one sense if you decide to put some on.

For scents that come in more organic forms like flowers, loose powders, or spices, you may need to find vials or jars to keep them in.

Tip #3: Something to Listen To

Most of us carry around our phones. Having a specific playlist that you create with songs that you know help to calm you down is a powerful way to get rid of anxiety. Music heals and has the power to take us away while keeping us present. So, in your tool kit you may want to make sure you have headphones for when the occasion arises.

Here are some playlists for chronic anxiety.

Tip #4: Something(s) to See

Any visual representations of things that make you feel calm are great antidotes to anxiety. If looking at pictures of particular family members is what keeps you calm then have those handy!

For some it may be that looking at serene landscapes in nature takes you to your calm place. Maybe it is a photo of you or someone else engaging in an activity that you know takes you to your calm place. Rock climbing? Yoga? Swimming? Gardening?

Using an online photo service is a cheap and convenient way to get pictures of any kind printed. Mpix is just one of these. Of course, your camera roll may be your go-to.

Other examples of visual calming aids are:

  • Pictures of your favorite art pieces.
  • Coloring books and coloring tools (pencils, crayons, markers etc.). Engage your visuals while partaking in the therapeutic activity of coloring. Adult coloring books like this one are awesome for those of us that feel swearing can be appropriately cathartic.
  • Any object that you enjoy looking at such as: seashells (can also engage your feeling senses), uniquely colored rocks (Smooth or textured can also engage your feeling senses), prisms, or a mirror.

Tip #5: Something to Feel (via rocking or deep pressure)

Many people use linear movements such as walking, rocking, or swinging to calm themselves. Try using a rocking chair, going for a walk, or swinging. Others also find deep pressure input such as hugs, weighted blankets, lap pads, jumping, or putting a heavier item like a book or bag on their laps helps with anxiety. You can also provide some slow calming deep pressure to the top of your head with your hands when overwhelmed. You may even find you like both rocking and deep pressure at the same time!

Tip #6: Something to Taste

Eating to relieve anxiety can be a slippery slope for some. However, there are some foods that are known to have calming effects on people. The following can easily be slipped into your Ultimate Anxiety Relief Tool Kit and stored for longer periods of time.

  • Chocolate – pure dark chocolate has been known to lower the levels of the hormone cortisol which is linked to stress and anxiety.
  • Almonds – contain zinc which is essential in balancing mood. Furthermore, almonds have iron which could help to keep your brain energized and less susceptible to anxious energy.
  • Chewing gum (aim for sugar-free!)
  • Calming Teas
  • Mints

Other foods that you may want to consider taking with you as you leave your house are:

  • Oranges – hello Vitamin C!
  • Blueberries– considered to be a Superfood. They have antioxidants (among many other things) that help to combat anxiety.
  • Peaches – have nutrients with calming effects.
  • Whole Grains – pasta or bread anyone? We’ve all been there after a big meal with some complex carbs. We feel slower in our minds and our bodies. A great antidote for anxiety – though you may want to incorporate exercise if you plan on using this one a lot!
  • Carrots – or other healthy crunchy snacks can be calming.
  • Water bottle – to stay hydrated and help yourself calm your mind.

Tip #7: Some other things you might want to consider putting in!

  • Favorite books – especially ones with positive quotes or thoughts.
  • Chapstick or lip balm – it smells and feels good to put on, you are certainly engaging more than one sense at a time. Thumbs up to that!
  • A journal or a small notebook to get those anxious thoughts out of your head. Writing them down can be super helpful. Sometimes this act alone can show you just how irrational your thoughts are. Maybe you read them back to yourself and laugh at how ridiculous you can be! 🙂
  • Lastly, do you know what you worry about? Maybe when you are in a good headspace, perhaps after a yoga or meditation session, you can write down phrases to help calm you down. You can dedicate a journal page (or a few) to this activity. Or, write on strips of paper, fold them, and place them in a small box or ziploc bag. This version allows there to be a bit of mindfulness activity when you go to unfold and read them. Either way you do it, just know that there is nothing like disproving your own thoughts to combat anxiety.

Some examples of what you can say to yourself:

  • Hey, Danny isn’t ignoring you -– he is probably just busy right now.
  • I’m doing great at work. Why am I worried? Also, just last week, my boss said I’m really impressing everyone!
  • I’m not a failure. I’ve accomplished so many things in my life. I’m only worried because I want great things for myself. I don’t need to worry to be great.
  • I’m okay. You’re OKAY.
  • This feeling is not permanent. It will pass.
  • Take ten deep breaths.
  • WOO-SAHHH!
  • Stay Present.
  • Notice what you can see right now.
  • Notice what you can hear right now.
  • Notice what you can smell right now.
  • Notice what you can feel on your body right now.
  • It always helps when you_______ .
  • I am in control.

Compiling your Ultimate Anxiety Relief Tool Kit should be fun because it is literally all about you! Also, it helps you to bring to the forefront of your mind things that help you feel better. Not only that, you’ll feel more in control. After all, who doesn’t like to feel calm and relaxed? Anxiety doesn’t stand a chance when your kit is stockpiled with your best kept secrets!

One last Tip!
Using more than one tool from your tool kit at a time can help if you are feeling very anxious. So, if you are in a place where it is possible to pull multiple things out, do it! For example, you may want to put your headphones on and listen to some music, then put some great smelling lotion on your hands, and play with a fidget tool. Although if you are only feeling a little anxious, perhaps being mindful as you put on some tingly delicious-smelling chapstick is all that you need. For more information about Anxiety and other Mental Illness Conditions click here.

 

Be an Ally: Suicide

Be an Ally: Suicide

Written by The Nan Project

What should I do if I think a friend is considering suicide?

To help your friend or relative, talk to them and encourage them to open up.

  • Never ignore or dismiss comments about suicide. Always report them to a trusted adult. This could be your caregiver, teacher, school’s guidance counselor, school nurse, coach, or even your doctor. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
  • Recognize the symptoms of suicide ideation and depression.
  • Calmly ask them if they want to or intend to harm themselves. Seek immediate professional help if they do.
  • Listen carefully with empathy and support, and acknowledge/validate the pain or sadness they are suffering.
  • Discourage isolation and invite your loved one out for walks, outings, and other activities. Keep trying even if he or she declines, but don’t push them to take on too much too soon.
  • Remind them how much you care for them and that they are not alone.
  • Don’t give up hope on them, treatment is available and it may take time to find the right fit.
  • Never keep secrets about self-harm or suicide ideation.

Share a Resource

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255)
Webchat on www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat

Crisis Text Line: Reach out by texting ANY word to 741741
https://www.crisistextline.org/

National Alliance on Mental Health: Call or Chat 1 (800) 950-6264
https://www.nami.org/help

For the Samaritans: Call or Text (877)870-4673
https://samaritanshope.org

SAMHSA: Suicide Safe Mobile App
https://www.samhsa.gov/

 

Resources

A list of BLOOM's trusted resources to find more information and support… VIEW ALL

Trusted Organizations
Teen Tribe // Support Group

Teen Tribe provides peer-to-peer support groups for teens faced with mental health challenges and/or difficult family dynamics.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

The nation’s largest mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

Recommended Books, Apps, & Podcasts
Insight Timer

Offers 100,000 free guided meditations for as long as you want without ever paying a cent.

Shine App

An inclusive self-care app that inspires users to look after their mental health with the help of meditation, gratitude exercises and journaling.

Chopra App

A place to discover your unique mind-body type and unlock personalized meditation and well-being practices tailored just for you.

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