I love the 4th of July Holiday! I have fond memories teenager of my dad driving me one state over to a fireworks store to pick up the "good stuff". We had an hour and a half car ride there and back. This was a father-son trip almost every year that I look back with fondness.
Along with fireworks, we often celebrate this day with lots of good food. BBQ with family some years and with family and friends other years is the norm.
We also recognize the brave men and women in the armed forces that have fought, and continue to fight, to keep our country free. This free country has provided a lot of opportunities for many families. We are truly blessed to live in such a country!
Mindfulness, the Brain, & Calming the Storm
Mindfulness is a very easy and effective coping skill for anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, depression and other challenges. Mindfulness is a skill that I often teach to the teenagers and young adults in teen therapy and young adult counseling.
Mindfulness is a practice that when, well, practiced regularly, can have a significant impact on reducing anxiety and depression. It exercises the network in the brain called the Default Mode Network (DMN).
The DMN is comprised of various regions of the brain to include the:
Medial and lateral parietal lobes,
Medial prefrontal lobes, and
Lateral temporal cortices
The DMN is particularly active when a person is engaged in introspective activities. This can also include that annoying, internal voice that can be fairly critical of ones self.
The DMN is also involved with thinking about the mistakes of the past and fear of dread for the future. This can be a source of teen and young adult anxiety and depression.
For neurofeedback for anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, and depression, I often start off training the Default Mode Network. In fact, most of the time I not only start of training the DMN but continue to do so throughout neurofeedback for anxiety and depression.
What I have found in neurofeedback for depression and anxiety is that in training the DMN, that inner critic is quieted. The dread about past mistakes and fear of the future is stilled.
Neurofeedback for social anxiety, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression has been effective for roughly 90% of those who participated. And training the DMN has been a part or largely the reason for their success.
How Can I Train the Default Mode Network on My Own?
One activity that has been found by research that can train the Default Mode Network of the brain is mindfulness. In the Journal, "Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience", mindfulness meditation was found to train the Default Mode Network (DMN).
The good news is that mindfulness meditation is easy to practice. In fact, you can do it just about anywhere without anyone knowing it. The steps to mindfulness meditation are:
Observe something with 1 of your 5 senses as though it's the fist time you are experiencing that thing.
Focus your attention to that thing. When other thoughts drift in, and they will, simply acknowledge them without judgment (e.g., judging thoughts as good or bad).
Let thoughts that drift in pass by and gently bring your focus back to that thing.
Be curious and inquisitive of that thing.
Explore the depth, intensity, uniqueness, of that thing. Try to observe elements of that thing to see if you can notice something you haven't noticed before.
What this will do is give your brain a break from thinking of mistakes made in the past. Mindfulness also helps you to not experience any fear or dread of the future. It distracts you from other stressful, anxiety provoking, or depressive situations that may be occurring in your life today.
Mindfulness helps you to exercise the part of your brain, the DMN, that will quiet the storm. With practice, you can find your anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, and depression improving.
And this leads us to mindfulness and the 4th of July.
Mindfulness Activities Unique to the 4th of July
The 4th of July is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. We have all watched fireworks, but have you watched fireworks mindfully before? We love the food on the 4th, but have you experience the BBQ using mindfulness?
Here are 2 suggestions on how to practice mindfulness using common activities on the 4th of July. Don't worry about doing it "right" or "perfectly". Just the act of practicing will help strengthen the Default Mode Network of the brain. And this in turn will provide a little, momentary break, from anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
If you are watching fireworks this 4th of July, you can use the sense of sight, smell, and possibly feel.
Mindful Viewing: Mindfulness Using Sight, Smell, and Feel
When watching fireworks using mindfulness, focus your attention to each firework that is set off. When you have thoughts about the past, future, or presents stressors, acknowledge them and let them drift on by. Bring your attention each time to watching fireworks.
Be curious and inquisitive using your child mind. Notice the vividness of the color. The richness:
Is there "depth" to the color?
What is the pattern?
How long does the color last?
Does it fade or disappear altogether?
Is one color brighter than other colors?
Does one color last longer than another?
Are each of the patterns the same?
Is there a pattern to the fireworks?
Can you feel the "boom" of the fireworks?
What does that "boom" feel like?
What do you notice in your body when the "boom" comes?
What's that smell?
How does your body react to the smell?
How strong is the smell?
Many people who practice mindfulness report observing and noticing things they haven't notice before. They may have watched fireworks a hundred times before, yet not noticed that thing as they are watching them mindfully.
When you sit down to enjoy that 4th of July meal, do so mindfully:
You can use your sense of taste as if you are tasting that particular food for the first time. You can use your sense of touch and feel the texture of the food.
You can also use your sense of sight to examine and explore the texture, color, and shape.
Mindful Eating: Using Taste, Sight, and Feel
Be curious and inquisitive using your child mind as if it's the first time you've experienced that particular food. Let the thoughts of the past, present, and future drift right on by and bring your focus and attention back to the food.
Chew slowly and savor the food. Notice the taste, temperature, texture of the food. Notice what shape, texture, and color of the food:
What does it taste like?
Do you like the taste and if so, why? If not, why?
Is it spicy?
Is it bland?
Is the temperature of the food hot or cold?
How do you react to the hot food or the cold food?
What is the texture like?
Is the texture rough?
Is the texture smooth?
Does the food feel dry?
Does the food feel moist?
What does your drink taste like?
Is it cold/hot and how does it feel washing over your tongue, down your throat, and in your stomach?
What Did You Notice
For that moment in time where you were practicing mindful viewing or eating, what did you notice? Did you notice:
That you didn't think much about the past and the feelings of anxiety or depression that the past can bring up?
You didn't worry about the future and anxiety or depressed feelings it can cause?
The current challenges and problems you face took a back seat for that moment in time? Anything new in viewing the fireworks or eating your meal?
How your body reacted to watching the fireworks or eating the meal?
Mindfulness meditation should help you, for that moment, distract in a healthy way from those thoughts and feelings that can cause emotional strain. You are exercising your brain and like a muscle, the more you exercise it the stronger it gets -- just in a different way.
As you make mindfulness a regular practice in your daily life, you will notice the inner critic quieting. The fear of the future lessening. And the concern of the past diminishing. All this can quiet the emotional storms that can rage in our lives.
Teen Therapy & Young Adult Counseling
Sometimes, teens and young adults may have been experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, and depression long enough that it has become very challenging to overcome. While mindfulness can help, sometimes additional support is needed.
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we have 70+ years of combined experience in teen therapy and young adult counseling. We have helped teens and young adults learn skills like and in addition to mindfulness that can help them manage or overcome their emotional challenges.
Teen Therapy & Young Adult Counseling: Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Summertime is a great time to start teen counseling or young adult therapy. You can get a head start on the upcoming school year learning to manage or overcome anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, performance anxiety, depression, or other struggles.
If you have a teen or young adult who may be struggling and you are ready to meet with a teen therapist or young adult counselor, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Talk with or schedule a phone call with one of our Office Administrators
Let us help provide the help your teen or young adult may need and let us help support you as parents
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide a variety of therapy approaches that are supported by research and shown to be effective. Some of the teen therapy and young adult counseling we offer are:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Group Therapy for Teens
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
It can be stressful parenting a struggling teen or young adult. More than anything we want to be able to help them. Sometimes couples may disagree about how to do so. This can inadvertently create stress in a relationship.
And there may be times where the actions of you or your spouse or partner has damaged the trust in your relationship. You want to reestablish the trust in a relationship you have worked hard for over the years.
Relationships are complex and take work. It can be helpful to have an objective, third party who is also experienced in marriage counseling and couples therapy. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we also provide couples therapy and marriage counseling.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker - Supervisor (LCSW-S), Board Certified in Neurofeedback, EMDR trained, and a Certified Brain Health Professional through the Amen Clinics. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003 and is the Owner & Lead Clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling.
He specializes in leading teams of high performing therapists who also specialize in teen therapy, family counseling, and counseling young adults.
Jason is also a leader in the field of teen, young adult, and family counseling providing coaching and technical assistance to teen Residential Treatment Centers across the country.
Jason is also a regular contributor to various magazines and publications lending his expertise to various mental health related topics. You can check these articles out on our "Featured Articles" service page on our website.
If you are ready to start your counseling journey, you can email, call, or text us directly at:
Phone Number: 346-202-4662