The best treatment for a hard day - or week, or month...or year - is an ounce or two of gratitude.
During this season, it's especially helpful to take in some gratitude moments throughout the day.
The Three Things Gratitude Exercise, from Dr. Christopher Kaczor’s The Gospel of Happiness: Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice and Positive Psychology is a great way to get started with a daily exercise in gratitude.
It’s a simple and very effective way to grow in gratitude and ward off negative thoughts that only bring us down. Here's how it works:
The Three Things Gratitude Exercise
1. At the end of the day, before you fall asleep (so don’t let that head hit the pillow yet), think of The Three Things, three small and simple things, you are thankful for. Moments you might have otherwise forgotten if you hadn’t been looking for it. (a smile or random text from a friend, the smell of warm your favorite snack or coffee, etc.)
2. Get out a notebook, journal, a note in your phone, or just hold these thoughts in your mind.
3. If you can, write down The Three Things you are grateful for from the day.
Here are the Three Things we're Grateful For Today:
What are your Three Things? Share below in the comments or on our Instagram or Facebook pages!
Heads Up: Stay tuned for an exciting Give Away Raffle for our Dec. 1st Giving Tuesday campaign. Think 50# flat screen TV, spa baskets and date night baskets!
post by Erika Higgins, PST4Y Executive Director
Every day, teens experience a wide spectrum of emotions while juggling many responsibilities and outside pressures and expectations. Teens are often treated as if they should be able to handle everything that is thrown at them and keep a smile on their faces while doing it.
However, many teens who struggle with anxiety, depression, or simple burn-out feel that they cannot talk with anyone about it. They are often told to "suck it up" and "keep going". Or, they may even receive positive-sounding encouragement:
You got this!
You can do this!
You can handle this, I believe in you.
Anything worth having is worth working hard for.
If it doesn't hurt, you're not trying hard enough.
Just keep smiling!
These short-and-sweet cheers can offer temporary bursts of encouragement but for a teen who is quietly struggling, these messages may have the opposite effect and trigger feelings of failure and inadequacy and cause them to bury their feelings even more.
Another reason teens may not share their real struggles is out of a sense of fear. Fear of disappointing others, fear of how others may treat them differently or think they are weak, fear of parents or others overreacting.
Many parents and adults did not grow up in environments that focused on emotions or mental health. Because of this, many parents often struggle with how to help their teens who may struggle emotionally or with mental health struggles. Yet, parents play a vital role in their teens' emotional wellbeing. Here are a few tips for how parents can help their teens feel comfortable talking about their emotional and mental health needs.
Make time and space for your teen to feel comfortable talking with you. If your teen is talking, show them they are worth listening to by giving them your attention. Put the phone down, move away from whatever you're working on and let them feel heard.
When your teen shares their feelings or struggles, respond with statements that validate their feelings rather than trying to wave them off or push them away. "That sounds really hard." "That is frustrating." "I can see why you feel upset about that."
3. Affirm and Encourage
With listening and validating, also provide words that affirm and encourage your teen in their feelings and personal experiences. "You are clearly feeling hurt by this. Thank you for sharing that with me." "This has been really challenging. You have worked really hard!"
Lastly, once you have spent time listening, validating, affirming and encouraging your teen, offer your support and resources. Let them know that you love them, always and that you want to help them through these hard times. Offer help by looking for ways you can make life less overwhelming. Look into outside resources for help too and plug your teen into those. They may not accept the help right away but remind them that you are here to help them because you love them and want them to feel better and enjoy life.
Remember your teens need you and other adults and friends in their life who will let them share their feelings honestly, confidently, and safely.
This week we are zoning in on teen mental health. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @pureandsimplet4y for more posts and resources. Check out our list of Mental Health Resources for parents and teens.
By Tara Thomas, Truth for Youth Social Media Manager
As I was growing up, there was always talk of anti-bullying. There were posters in the hallways, TV shows would show the underdog showing up a bully, and we were told to “love our neighbor as ourself” according to the golden rule of “treat others the way you want to be treated,” but in my experience that was ignored at the most important point in my life.
I went to Catholic school from second grade until I decided to leave college this past March. Out of all of those years, the most formative were when I was in middle school, ages 12 to 14. I was figuring out who I was, what I liked, what I wanted to be, and especially what I didn’t want to be.
In sixth grade, it felt like everyone else got better at what they did. Everyone who was athletic got sportier. Anyone who exceled in schoolwork got smarter. Anyone who was artistic got smarter. I didn’t feel like I fit into any of those categories. I didn’t try to make friends with anyone in my class for that reason. Instead, I found friends with whom I did fit in. I’d been told I was always mature for my age, so I befriended two girls two years older than myself.
All was great until an old friend from first grade transferred to our school. I was ecstatic because someone my age who I could relate to was there. Although one of the eighth graders wasn’t too happy about my old friend coming back into my life. And just like that, the girl I told everything to decided that we weren’t going to be friends.
It started with us hanging out only sometimes, then others she would avoid me like the plague. If she was going to choose to ignore me, I would just spend more time with this friend who transferred, which led to more bullying.
Tere was a day that my bully had decided that this friend of mine and I were lesbians. My immediate reaction was to laugh it off. This girl whom I’d told every single detail of my life thinks I like girls? Tell that to the crush on a boy I’d had for three years at that point… Then I started thinking about how I was very protective of my female friends. We weren’t super close, but if you hurt them then I would have been furious. “I’m just the mom friend though, right?”
I was so curious about this possible attraction to the same sex that I turned to pornography. I saw the naked female body and realized that I was attracted to it, so I started identifying as bisexual. At the time, I had heard that porn was bad, but I didn’t know how or why it was bad in the eyes of the Catholic Church. I also didn’t understand the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, so my newfound label didn’t worry me.
Those weren’t the only effects that my bully had on me. There was one day that I’d ended up crying. When we went inside from fresh air time and my teachers were about to let me pass right on until my new friend pulled me aside, telling the teachers that I had something I needed to tell them.
When I talked to the teachers, they heard all sides of the story. But not once did they listen. My friend and I were two sixth graders going against a seventh and two eighth graders. It felt as though as soon as we said our side of the story, we were on the losing side. In fact, one of my teacher’s reactions was “Well, some people think Mrs. ******* and I are lesbians, but that doesn’t mean we are.” It was like she missed the entire point.
To make matters worse, my bully came from a big, Catholic family. If this was what it meant to be Catholic, then why in the world would I want to be?
After this experience, my view of myself worsened. I was now the depressed, bisexual atheist who enjoyed watching porn in her free time. I found a group of people on the internet who only encouraged this even more.
My view on my identity has changed quite a bit, but there are still so many scars that need to be healed from that experience. Bullying can truly change a person. I just ask that whoever is reading this, be patient with people. You don’t know what wounds they’re still healing from.
If you're interested in learning more about my story and how I'm working on overcoming the obstacles that I've dealt with since I was a kid, you can subscribe to our blog as well as keep up with our social media!