February 21, 2017 —
Anyone who has ever parented teens knows that it is NOT for the faint of heart! I have parented two teens and made it through to the other side! Through my experiences as a mother, as well as working with thousands of teens and their parents, I’ve learned a thing or two.
Firstly, recognize that you are both stressed out and anxious and don’t always know how to deal with it. When we are stressed and anxious, we are desperate for relief and that’s when things can get dicey. Unless we have healthy coping skills at the ready, it’s all too easy to turn to alcohol or drugs, medicines in the cabinet, unhealthy digital habits and more.
For more than 20 years, I’ve taught quick and easy coping skills for stress and anxiety. The key to making these coping skills helpful and useful is to using them consistently. For an example, we brush our teeth on a daily basis to prevent the buildup of cavities, we should use similar coping techniques regularly to prevent the buildup of excess stress and anxiety. Another way to look at it is like a glass of water: If it’s ¾ full with “calm and relaxed” feelings, there’s not a lot of room for the stressed and anxious feelings, so it’s easier to empty them out. The more you fill yourself with the “good” feelings, the less likely you and your teen are to over-react the next time get on each other’s nerves – again.
The techniques I’m about to share with you work equally as well for both teens and adults, however, I should caution you (from experience!): Sharing these with your teen is probably not going to be met with open arms or an open mind. The best thing you can do is to start using them on a daily basis and watch the changes in yourself and in your relationship with your teen. Another way of putting it: Lead by example! Like they say on the airplanes: Place the oxygen mask on yourself first, THEN help others.
1. SQUARE BREATHING
I love teaching breath techniques – because our breath is always with us and brings us back to the present moment. You can start by tracing a square on the table in front of you or on your leg. Or you can draw a square on a piece of paper to follow. Starting at the top left hand corner, trace along the top line to the right as you inhale to the count of four. As you trace the line down, hold your breath to the count of four. As you trace the bottom line across to the left, exhale to the count of four. And finally, hold your breath again to the count of four as you trace the line back up to the starting point.
2. CROSSING THE MIDLINE
This is another really simple technique that is so powerful! Grab a water bottle or your keys or anything that’s handy. You can also just use your hands. You want to toss the bottle or keys back and forth in front of you, making sure to cross the midline of the body. If you don’t have anything, simply swing your hands side to side in front of you, making sure to clap your hands at the midline in front of you. In a very short time you will notice your stress and anxiety beginning to ebb away.
3. THREE PART BREATH
Imagine healing energy at your feet. You’re going to imagine that you can breathe this in through the bottom of your feet upwards in three parts. Imagine taking a third of a breath through your feet, just up to your knees and pause. Take another third of a breath up to your stomach, and pause. Take that last third of a breath all the way up to the top of your head and pause. Hold it for a moment or two, then exhale, letting go of any stress or tension. Repeat as many times as you like, until you get back to a relaxed state.
Stephanie empowers women to find freedom, peace of mind and joy in their lives. Stephanie has freed thousands of people, from tweens to 82-year-olds, from their fears, stress and anxiety. When she’s not helping people off “the couch” she can be found with her sweet rescue dogs Maggie and Claire walking and meditating at the reservoir or on “the mat” practicing yoga. She lives in CT with her husband of 32 years, Michael. You can connect with Stephanie on Facebook, Twitter or StephanieDalfonzo.com.