So as a Hypnotherapist working with people’s mental health on a regular basis, I had a real choice of things to write about before I settled on this World Mental Health Day 2017 – Help for teenagers title.
I’m not going to bombard you with stats about Mental Health in this post because you will know if your teenager (or you) needs help and support and that is the purpose of this post.
The reason I chose to blog about teenagers for World Mental Health Day
I love teenagers, I was one once lol. And I remember not liking it much and losing my way. I had wonderful parents but I didn’t go to them for help or talk to them about how I felt. It wasn’t their fault and it wasn’t my fault. It just was that way.
In my Corporate life I mentored teenagers to get into the workplace and now I help teenagers to deal with life 🙂
The biggest rise I have seen in my client base over the past year have been teenage girls. I could say it’s because of the rise of social media; Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest (not sure the teenagers use that as much?) because there is a lot of research that suggests that social media is damaging for self-esteem. But fighting social media or helping a teenage girl become more comfortable in her own skin? I know which is the easier option.
So let’s look at how I help teenage girls really get more of a sense of themselves and have more confidence and resilience, so they can deal with life better and be happier.
Issues that teenagers are facing:
- Body image
- Feeling sad
- Hiding from the world
- Being bullied
- Pressure of school
- Academic performance
- Lack of confidence
- Relationships with others
But most of all:
The relationship that they have with themselves
Now I’ve been helping adults on their relationships with themselves for a long time. At the route of most depression is not liking yourself. People live miserable lives for a very long time for 2 main reasons (in my opinion):
- They don’t understand themselves enough to know what their strengths are and to remember why they are amazing as their unique selves
- They have lived a life full of events and sometimes traumas and believe the stories in their head.
What I mean by a story is when things have happened in your life and they give you a particular belief. Let’s take a relationship breakup. You might think that you are not loveable and that is a story that starts to become true for you. When you meet a potential partner or love interest, you (in your head) are living and believing your own story that you are not loveable. This may leak into your body language and the way you communicate and affect this potential relationship. So that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; the relationship is not a success and that backs up your belief that you are not loveable.
The life of a teenager
A teenager has a childhood behind them but during their teenage years they are exploring and discovering life and themselves. So any little chink in their armour, comments, arguments, negative comments or implications (we all know that so much can be implied by just a look) all sink into them. We all pick up tiny subtle movements from each other because we are similar to animals in that way and communicate continuously through body language.
All the while, teenagers are receiving chinks in their armour. Reminds me of one of those soft crabs that needs time for its shell to harden so the birds can’t hurt it. They are finding their way and every chink in their armour hurts them and stops them being as tough as they need to be to face this world of ours. And we all know how tough life can be. Not always, but it has its moments.
All you want for your kid is for them to be able to handle it, be happy and for them to succeed at the things that are important to them. That’s all you want isn’t it.
And so when your kid comes to you (or maybe doesn’t) and tells you that they are not happy and life isn’t going well or maybe even that they hate themselves, that is really heart breaking 🙁
Help available for teenagers
Most teenagers that I see in my Hypnortherapy practice in West Sussex and Worldwide on Skype, have never been taught about positive thinking. Or techniques on how to protect and nurture their mental health. Many (and their parents) won’t like the term mental health, so I am very cautious of the language that I use with teenagers.
Some schools are becoming more aware of the need to educate their students on how to look after mental health and physical health. Things that today’s society are feeling the ill effects of. But schools have ciricculums to stick to and targets to meet, so the time and resources allocated to these matters are limited.
As parents we are often not proficient in the art of managing mental health ourselves. So many adults have stress, anxiety and depression themselves. They are just trying to scrape through life and doing the best they can for their children.
Many families have a working mum and dad and then there are single parent families and there are just so many demands on people’s time and energy. But more so, people just don’t have the skills and techniques to bring these teenagers through it and show them how things can be different.
And often the last person a teenager wants to hear from is their parents or teacher! So there is this huge gap to fill.
How I help teenagers
What I do with teenagers is to focus on the positives. Build them up strong. A teenager has plenty of time to understand their areas of development and flaws. The last thing they need to be brought tot their attention is to focus on their flaws. They need to be rebuilt and taught resilience.
So we focus on the positive and we do lots of positive work. We focus on how to change their state. State is the way we choose to feel at any given time. There is a great big range of emotion from sad to elated and everything inbetween and believe me, teenagers can feel those full range of emotions on what seems like an hourly basis.
The first thing that I teach teenagers are easy techniques so they can discretley manager their own state. From the first session they go out the door knowing that they have tools for life. and these tools are cool! Only 250 practitioners Worldwide are using these skills (separate blog post another day) and they are amazing. Teenagers love them.
I give them skills and tools for life to help them manage how they feel and get out of sticky emotional situations and shift those blue days where everything feels terrible.
I give them a maintenance plan to take with them, so they don’t have to worry about remembering things and it doesn’t feel like homework!
The next sessions I do work are what I call ‘work of the self’. Looking inside at what’s good about them and what’s important to them. And why they need to protect that to make them strong against the storms.
I use Hypnosis too which is perfectly safe on children age 5+. Hypnosis on a teenager is practically the same as an adult but you use language that appeals to a teenager. I use that to introduce a huge feeling of calm into their lives because they are usually so tense and anxious and worried and stressed with all that’s going on. They can just escape all that and float away to relax and find that calm place inside themselves. They can reconnect to that calm place whenever they need to with a recording that I give them.
Another skill for life. How to unwind your mind and take yourself away from the things that are bothering you and come back feeling relaxed and refreshed and ready to roll.
And what about mum and dad?
Supporting teenagers can be testing, tiring and thankless! So if you need help unwinding, keeping your cool or getting creative on strategies to cope. Make your appointment 🙂
I loved reading this book and so am doing a book review for Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Even the title ‘Rest’ helped me relax
Talk about Hypnotic suggestion. Every time I picked up the book, I knew I was reading ‘rest’ and I felt ‘rested’ as a result!
Alex opens the book by explaining how we see rest as the absence of work and not something in its own right. I think this is the case for many people. How about you?
He goes on to say that if you put so much of yourself into you work then when you cease to work, you cease to exist. This is a strong statement! We have all heard stories of people retiring and passing away shortly afterwards and this being put down to them ‘missing work’ and being without purpose’. But without the evidence, this statement lacks truth for me.
He does say that work can be as emotionally fulfilling as being in love. Can you relate to that?
However the book is focused on the principle that many extraordinary leaders, scientists, philosophers and creatives valued the importance of rest and worked better as a result of the way they practiced rest.
The right rest restores the mysterious part of the mind and we underestimate how much good as serious rest can do us. I call this ‘mysterious’ part of the mind the subconscious 🙂
He gives us confidence to allow ourselves to rest by explaining that we need to allow ourselves to rest and remove the guilt for doing it. ‘You have to take rest and protect it from a world that is intent on taking it’.
Ok then. We will 🙂
Rest is important for creativity
If you work at 110% all the time, how much will you give when extra is required? Or will you lack the energy to give it more? By balancing your energy levels you will have the fuel in the tank that you need to put the pedal to the metal!
But it’s more than that. When you rest, you access a different part of your brain even though you are resting, your brain is almost as active as when you are working hard on a problem. When you become active again, that ‘different’ part of your brain turns off again.
So what does that ‘different’ part of your brain do? It:
- Consolidates memories
- Makes sense of the past
- Searches for solutions to problems that your occupying your thoughts in your waking hours
I would call this part of the brain the subconscious mind. Alex explains how walks, art and music can wake ideas that are ‘slumbering’ there. Because when he talks about ‘rest’. He doesn’t mean lying down doing nothing, although that’s a pretty good way to rest!
He talks about rest being things that
- Relax you
- Detach you from work
- Let you spend your time in ways you enjoy
Take a break
No this isn’t a kit-kat advert. In his book, Alex mentions many tests to prove how breaks improve performance at work. He says ‘part of your mind is writing the next sentence, and the next paragraph, considering and discarding a thousand plot twists without you ever being aware of them’. For me this totally sums up the awesomeness that is our subconscious mind. It works away doing all kind of amazing things for us which we are never even aware of!
Alex talks about the importance of learning to monitor your attention and energy as this is a life skill that will serve you well.
Cats have the right idea about naps
Churchill took naps. Kennedy and Einstein too. But why? In case you didn’t know, a 20 minute nap can restore depleted energy and a nap of more than an hour takes you into REM state sleep and will help you remember more.
What you need to know if the ‘work’ is more important to you than that the ‘rest’
Cambridge mathematician John Littlewood said even for people whose mind naturally gravitate towards work, having clear boundaries between periods of work and rest allows them to get more from each. ‘It is too easy when tired to fritter a whole day but never getting properly down to it. You get nothing done and get no rest or relaxation’. Is that ringing any bells for you?
Walk the talk
I didn’t expect walking to be in a book about rest but it totally makes sense. Danish Philosopher Soven Kierkegaard said ‘I have walked my way into my best thoughts’. Have you ever had that experience?
Some companies have walking meetings now which are said to be good for solving problems, discussing, bouncing ideas and eliminating distractions. Steve Jobs did it. There is evidence that your mind becomes calmer when walking through parks and green spaces. In tests 81% of students did better in tests when walking.
Plus walking in autumn is absolutely glorious, So let’s get out there!
Let your subconscious mind do its work, so that you can do yours
I’ve long had a view that the Corporate work place is outdated. Many organisations are proud of themselves for offering flexible working. But the whole concept of work needs to be rethought out if we want to continue to evolve as a forward thinking society. By understanding how our minds work at their best and how to exploit our energy to be our very best selves, productivity and mental health will be much healthier.
No wonder so many corporate workers are so stressed. The way that they are working is not allowing them to rest or flourish. ‘Workers with little control feel more stress because controlling your time is liberating and restorative’.
But businesses are missing a trick because employees that ‘rest’ well are:
- Better employees
- Better at dealing with challenges
- Better colleagues
- More able to focus intensively on work tasks
And let’s not forget the 2 million entrepreneurs that are beavering away and want to succeed and so don’t take rest seriously for fear of missing an opportunity. Many entrepreneurs that I know are so passionate about their business they love working!
How good at resting are you?
As someone who has suffered from fatigue in the past, I rate energy very high in my list of priorities and try to manage it wisely. I really enjoyed this book as it had the right balance of brain talk, stats and common sense for my liking.
I would love to hear your thoughts or tips on how you achieve good rest in the comments if you have time. Do you rest or are you pushing yourself too hard?
Sending you restful vibes.
Your mental health – How much do you honestly think your employer cares about it?
Do you feel that they care more about business results than the mental health of the people they manage?
I was motivated to think about this question and write this post as a result of another blog post I saw. A woman that sent an email to her boss to say she needed to take a mental health sick day got a really cool response. You can read about it here
What do you think your boss would say if you sent an email saying you were having a mental health sick day? Would they respond kindly or would they respond asking for an update on your work! In many cases bosses lack empathy towards employees.
Is mental health in your workplace taken as seriously as physical health?
It might be slightly different of course with an obvious physical illness. You know the sort of thing, leg in cast, swollen eye, streaming cold or sporting injury. Or even an operation where you are actually in hospital and completely unable to work ,so the boss can be satisfied you are no good to them whatsoever for a while.
Most people have sympathy towards physical illness don’t they? ‘Awwww, that looks sore’ or ‘you poor thing, hope you are feeling better soon’. But is there the same level of sympathy towards mental health or is there still a bit of a stigma? Many people are not keen to openly talk about depression although mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis and 4-10% of people in England experiencing depression in their lifetime.
Is there still a mental health stigma?
Why is there any stigma or lack of support for mental health issues in the workplace? Luckily, high profile people like Price Harry are really helping matters by talking about it. He has openly said how the death of his mother, Princess Diana affected his mental health and wellbeing.
You might not think there is a stigma as you may be lucky to be in a workplace that is supportive of mental health issues like Laing O’Rourke. But there clearly is a huge problem 49% of people saying they would be unlikely to tell their boss about problems such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. Only 35% said they’d be happy to tell colleagues.
They say people leave companies because of bad bosses….
Some workplaces are almost archaic in their support of mental health issues. Managers that are so wrapped up in their own careers and living and breathing ‘work’ that they forget the people that work for them are PEOPLE. It makes a real difference when your manager bothers to get to know you as a person. Asks after your family, makes you feel like a human.
And when you have a mental health issue and you manager is supportive, wow! That can really make or break your happiness at work. Maybe they support you be making changes to your hours, or your workload or support appointments for you to get professional help.
Or maybe they simply respect that not every day you are able to put in your most amazing performance or effort. It doesn’t make you a less committed or able employee. Businesses are obsessed with number of hours worked when actually you can be just as efficient and if not more in less hours if you are happy and supported.
It’s time for employers to wake up and smell the bachs remedy
It is so shortsighted for employers not to consider the mental health of it’s employees part of its strategy and company ethos.
In business speak, the costs of not doing so are massive with mixed anxiety and depression estimated to cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain.
Things that don’t help mental health at work are:
- Unsupportive company ethos
- Systems and processes that cause stress
- Regular overworking
- Lack of ‘Wellbeing at work’ initiatives
- Lack of support from managers and HR
- Lack of appropriate training
- Unrealistic targets and timescales
The things on this list cause stress and anxiety in abundance. Both of which can lead to depression and absence from work.
Some companies are wellbeing aware
Luckily 500 smart companies have signed up for the Time to Change Pledge to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination across England.
In a really great guide from Mentalhealth.org.uk they explain that good mental health practices have to start with managers. They advise looking out for these things in employees:
- Sensitive to criticism
- Loss of confidence or humour
- Making more mistakes
- Lack of concentration
- Not taking breaks
- Becoming introverted or extroverted
- Displaying stress
- Looking tired
- Lack of motivation
Prevention will pay dividends
There is also a great deal that can be done at prevention level which starts with having an open approach to mental health. Talking about it in the company and being supportive of people working their contracted hours and not regularly expecting more. Have realistic job descriptions and treat people like people.
Of course people want to do a good job and be successful, it’s good for self-esteem and motivation. But they also want lives and energy to enjoy themselves!
Some companies cottoned onto the benefits of having a workforce who nurture their mental health a while ago. Some of the best are mentioned here
If you know a company that are good at caring about the mental health of their employees, please give them a shout out in the comments of this blog. They deserve it 🙂
There is a very simple sum too which sums up why employers should care about mental health.
Happy staff = staff that want to make customers happy = happy business = attracts high quality employees that want to work there = happy business etc
In short, caring about your brain is a no brainer 🙂
A quick word for the self employed
As you are your own boss, you are responsible for your own mental health. Self employed people can be so enthusiastic about their businesses that they let their self-care slip. Don’t let this be you! If you are in business you will know that you need to play both the short game and the long game and this applies to your physical and mental health too.
Schedule days off and holidays. Make sure your customers and clients know your working hours so your ‘free time’ does not become ‘work time’.
So many people leave Corporate life to enjoy the benefits of being self employed and actually ending working harder and longer. Nothing wrong with passion for your business, but if you burn out you won’t be able to do very much at all.
You have personal responsilbity for your own mental health too
Of course, work is not the only cause of mental health issues. Problems can arise after a life changing event, illness or for no reason at all unfortunately. There is loads you can do to take care of your own wellbeing and keep mental health issues at bay. Then you can enjoy your work and the rest of your life to the best of your ability.
Sign up for the free 21 Day Wellbeing Challenge
I’ve seen enough ‘frazzled’ clients to understand that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to mental health.
You might want to sign up for my free 21 Day Wellbeing Challenge which is an easy to follow plan for busy people. Just sign up via the pop up here on my website.