Summer Vacations, Self Care, & Mindfulness
I don't have a teenager that I work with that isn't excited about another end to a school year! Parents are also looking forward to schedules not being as jam packed and enjoying some fun time with their teens and and young adults. Summer is right around the corner. Vacation plans have been made or are in the works.
Summer break is a great time to spend time on some individual and family self-care. The school year is usually packed with so many activities, parents often feel more like Uber drivers than parents. Except these Uber drivers aren't getting paid and for sure aren't getting any tips.
With the hustle and bustle of everyday living, summertime opens up opportunities to unwind, relax, and rejuvenate. It's healing for the mind, body, and soul to take some time away and just focus on you and your family relationships.
As you're vacationing this year, you might try some mindfulness activities during your vacation. Some of you may be familiar with mindfulness. Others may not. For those who are not familiar with what mindfulness is, we'll help out here.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that is supported by over research articles. It has shown to be effective in helping reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere at any time. Mindfulness makes space for us to be fully present in the moment. The more one practices mindfulness, the more the brain responds and changes its response to stress, anxiety, and depression.
Examples of activities that you could use as mindfulness activities are all around us. For example:
Chewing a piece of gum
Eating a meal
Going on a walk or other exercise
Listening to music
Listening to silence
Smelling lavender during a bath
According to a Psychologytoday.com article, there are two main ingredients to mindfulness:
1. Awareness and,
Mindfulness teaches us to be aware of our inner experience in the present moment. This is a break for a moment from the stress of the past and the concerns for the future.
To increase awareness of our own inner experience and expand that awareness, it's important to use practice 'child like' curiosity. Using each of your senses available can also help to expand your awareness.
Approaching the activity as it's the first time you have experienced it, maybe like a child first experiencing something, helps you focus on trying to notice things you may not have noticed before. Using your senses helps root you in the present moment and expand the impact of the activity.
Acceptance is another key ingredient for Mindfulness. Mindfulness teaches that when (not if) outside thoughts pop up, to not judge them as good or bad but simply notice them as thoughts.
We can't control all our thoughts. We will have intrusive thoughts when we practice mindfulness. This is not a disruptive part of mindfulness but a natural part of the experience.
The idea is to not judge the thoughts as good or bad but simply notice them and bring your awareness back to the mindfulness activity. You can image the intrusive thoughts as leaves on the water in a river. As they pop into mind they alight on the water. The water carries them gently downstream and out of view.
When these intrusive thoughts come to mind, let them drift on by and out of view and bring your awareness back to the mindfulness activity.
Example of a Mindfulness Activity
Let's say you're on vacation and you are taking a hike around beautiful Moraine Lake in Banff, Alberta British Columbia, Canada. As you bring your awareness to that activity, you start by:
Noticing the Things You Can See:
The turquoise color of the lake
The icy glacier at the head of the lake
The pathway around the lake and the rocks, dirt, leaves and other natural things on the path
The pine trees around you and,
The rugged mountains surrounding you
Notice the Things You Can Smell:
The scent of the pine trees as it blows across the wind
The smell of food cooking from the lodge
The leaves and other plants that may be decaying as the result of coming out of winter and being spring time
Notice the Things You Can Feel:
The wind blowing on your face
The packed dirt under your feet
Your clothing as you walk the path
The coolness and crispness of the mountain air
Notice the Things You Can Hear:
The wind blowing through the trees
Other tourists talking in different languages
Water running and splashing of fish jumping out of the water
Notice the Things You Can Taste:
Gum that you may be chewing
The water or other liquid you drink as you hydrate on the hike
As you approach this activity like you have never seen, smelled, felt, heard, or tasted that experience before, you may notice a level of richness not experienced before. Approaching it this way is also designed to help root you in the present moment.
As thoughts enter in and drift on by and you are focused in the moment, the stress of the day can melt away for that brief period of time.
As you practice mindfulness, you can begin to notice your resiliency towards stress improving. Anxiety may start to decrease and your mood increase.
Ya, But is Mindfulness Really for Me?
So, mindfulness practices can appear kind hippy-dippy'ish, froo-froo, and something for only those who practice yoga and are into this kind of stuff. By the way, yoga has been shown to help decrease stress, anxiety, and depression as well (but more on that another time).
Mindfulness meditation has a mountain of research behind it. It is a practice that in order to reap the full benefits, one needs to, well, practice. Give it a shot next time you are doing something, really anything. That is the good thing about mindfulness meditation, you can practice it anywhere and any time.
Summer Time is a Great Time to Prepare for the Next School Year
Along with mindfulness meditation, there are many other practices that can help improve mood and build resiliency against stress and anxiety. Summertime is an excellent time to explore ways that can help you remove emotional of behavioral obstacles.
Teens and young adults, when you have obstacles like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, trauma, PTSD or others struggles, you cannot access your full potential.
You have the talent. You have the intelligence. You have the strength to do great things, yet depression, anxiety, and other struggles block your full access of these gifts.
During the school year, schedules are so jam packed that it can be challenging to add one more thing. With school being out, schedules become a little bit more flexible in adding that one more thing.
With the break in school, take advantage of this time to tackle the emotional or behavioral struggles you may have. There is no better time than when school is out. And there is no better time than now.
The sooner you get started, the sooner you can remove the obstacles in your way of accessing your true potential. It's a journey worth starting and we will walk with you every step of the way. If we are needed in between sessions we are only a phone call, text, or email away.
By the Way . . .
By the way teens and young adults, IT'S THERE. Depression, anxiety, ADHD/ADD, trauma, PTSD and the other emotional struggles will lie to you.
These emotional obstacles will tell you "you're not good enough", "you're not smart enough", "you can't succeed", "they'll never like you" and other lies. They are good at it but what they don't tell you is that THEY are the one's limiting your ability.
They are kind of like a living, breathing creature focused on their survival. If they can keep you believing these lies they live. Once you start tackling these lies head on, they start to lose their power and they die out.
Teens, young adults: it's there. We see it time and time again with teens and young adults overcoming their obstacles.
You are stronger, more talented, more intelligent, and gifted than your depression, anxiety, or those other 'creatures' will let you believe!
This summer, let us help you tackle these emotional obstacles. Let's start next year's school year with you having conquered depression, anxiety of other obstacles in your way. We want you to start the next school year being able to access your full potential.
Teen Therapy & Young Adult Counseling: Katy Teen & Family Counseling
We are excited for the summer plans that the families we work with have for this summer. What a great time to recharge physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Summertime is also an excellent time for teens in Middle School and High School as well as young adult college students to tackle those emotional obstacles. The schedule is lighter, less responsibility, and greater ability to focus on conquering depression, anxiety, ADHD/ADD or other struggles.
Our Katy, Tx location is conveniently located just off of 99 and I-10. We are about 4 blocks behind (south) Academy Sports.
If you are ready to take advantage of the summer break and overcome emotional or behavioral obstacles in your way, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with our teen therapists or young adult counselors
Start your journey in realizing your full potential
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we use therapy and counseling approaches that are supported by research. These approaches have been shown to work in the shortest amount of time.
We provide teen therapy, counseling for young adults, family therapy, and marriage counseling or couples therapy.
We also offer the following therapy and counseling services:
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker (LCSW) and Board Certified in Neurofeedback (BCN) through BCIA.
He specializes in therapy for the family system including: teen therapy, family therapy, counseling for young adults, and neurofeedback. He has provided therapy to teens, young adults, and families since 2003.
Jason helps teens and young adults in the Katy, Tx and Houston area who struggle ith: ADHD/ADD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, trauma, PTSD, and other challenges.
Jason also works with talented teen athletes and gifted students who experience unique challenges. He has helped athletes overcome mental blocks caused by injuries or near misses. Through neurofeedback, he has helped gifted students increase peak performance.
Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivation