This pandemic isn’t your average day-to-day exhaustion.
Getting your teen out of bed for online school they hate or the constant nagging to complete homework assignments they don’t seem to care about is wearing you down. Add in protocols making everyday tasks feel epic, working from home with constant interruption and financial stresses, and your nerves are fraying faster than a puppy chews up your new sheepskin slippers.
Then there’s your teenager.
Regardless of changes in their education, they’re SO over this! Their relentless requests for a hall pass to have a social life is trying your patience and they’re angry and frustrated. As we head into the holidays, your teen was looking forward to hanging out at coffee shops, the mall, or in other homes. Nope, not this year.
There’s no point in bucking up and being brave. You looked that in the rear-view mirror around June. It’s time for some ‘take a good look in the mirror’, ‘sh*t’s getting real’ kind of honesty or your mental and emotional health with doing a coup with your body and then it’s too late.
Where do you fall on this chart?
If you answered yellow to orange, you’d be in the current normal range. And what about your teen? Seriously, ask them.
You can only heal what you admit is hurt.
Mental health is no joke, and these extraordinary times call for even more intentional support and habits to survive AND thrive. The little irritations you were tolerating in your life before are now hills too large to jump over or ignore. Even though doing the work feels like more work, pretending is exhausting.
I’m exhausted, working 7 days/week for months with less than 6 days off since August in order to pivot, relaunch, and pay the bills. I rarely leave the house (read – lonely extrovert) and missed many sunny days sitting behind my computer. In September, an unhealthy and longstanding level of fear started to swallow me. I spent 2 months doing deep work to uncover and release it.
This isn’t balance.
Everything feels off. Your normal levels of human connection required for a healthy brain don’t exist. Even extended family living close by may be off-limits and the level of emotional energy it takes to function this way feels physically draining, even if you’re not physically active.
Parents and teens are reaching out to me every day on my TikTok and Instagram accounts asking for support with better coping techniques for their anxiety and now looming depression. Not knowing when this will end while trying to manage overwhelming feelings is increasing their anxiety and fueling panic attacks.
Here’s my 5 daily tips for you and your teen to lower stress and anxiety.
1) Breathing – your nervous system is directly connected to the rhythm of your breath. Taking 5 slow, deep breaths a few times/day (before bed is great) helps lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and calm your brain. Set an alarm on your phone!
- Box breathing – Draw a 2” x 2” box on a piece of paper. Starting in the top left corner, retrace the box with your pen or your finger following the instructions below. Five cycles a few times/day will significantly lower the stress in your body.
2) Go for a walk – fresh air in your lungs daylight hitting the back of your eye (especially when days are shorter) helps your keep your circadian rhythm intact so you sleep better.
3) Go to bed early – being consistent with your bedtime helps your body regulate stress.
4) Lower exposure to blue light – I wear blue light blocking glasses and find my body is calmer after a long day. If possible, turn off personal electronics and TVs at least one hour before bed to allow your brain to wind down.
5)Create a bedtime routine – Habitual behaviour helps your body transition, especially before bed. No matter what time I tuck in, I always brush and floss, stretch for 15 minutes with slow breathing, and do some tapping (more on that below).
Here’s my top 5 apps to help manage anxiety and stress.
My son uses Headspace daily and loves it. I use The Tapping Solution daily, and they have a great YouTube Channel too. I know, it looks bat crap crazy. Judge later, try it now. It’s scientifically proven and works amazing with trauma and PTSD (it saved my life, but that’s another story).
Talk about it.
Talking about your feelings and making space to listen to your teen builds resilience and connection in your relationship to support big feelings. If your teen is pissy ‘for no reason’, remember that anger is part of grieving what you miss and don’t currently have. Most teens don’t understand WHY they feel angry so normalizing it with compassion is really important.
Seek professional help and let go of what people might think. You matter and your feelings are real.
- Call your doctor or naturopath
- Find a counsellor or therapist
- Call a help line or local distress centre
I’m here to help.
Parents have been reaching out to me even more since March for extra support in managing this unprecedented situation. Whether it’s having your partner at home 24/7 or supporting tweens/teens who miss their friends and favorite activities and struggle with their current education program, being a parent right now feels a bit herculean.
You’re doing the best you can, likely more than you give yourself credit for. You’re still in the game, even when you’re at your wits end and crying on the bathroom floor. You’re strong and courageous, and you don’t need to do this alone.
Today is the launch of my new program, The Empowered Parent Mastermind. It’s an 8-week, virtual program where I show you how to create a respectful, honest relationship with your teen without bending over backward, even if what you’ve tried so far hasn’t worked. Whether you’re in the thick of or just want to be prepared for what might be coming, I’ll share key relationship and parenting tools I’ve learned over the last 16 years.
Applications are required and enrollment is limited to ensure you get the support you need to create the results you want. Let’s do this together.