Routines for Teen Mental Health

Teen Mental Health

If I have to use one more tissue, I am calling up my investor to buy shares in their company! Being sick can sure slow things down and get you thinking…

My thoughts have not always been great company. Over the years, I’ve learned that even unwelcome company can be ok with the right approach. 

My mental health has had highs and lows over the years. In my teens and right after having my kiddos are times that I distinctly remember struggling to be well. And thanks to A LOT of self-reflection and some trial and error, I’ve come up with a pretty solid mental health routine that feels like the right panacea of care for me. 

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What is mental health anyways? I look at it as anything related to your overall well-being (your mind, body, heart, and soul). 

I know it’s not a one size fits all. Even sometimes my routine doesn’t prevent me from having bad days or tough feelings. What it does though is help my mind be in its best possible state to sit with and go through life experiences. And it helps me bounce back from difficult times and cherish beautiful moments. 

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If your teen daughter is struggling with her mental health right now, don’t give up – there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Having a teen struggle is also taxing on your own mental health as a parent. So I’m sharing the things I include in my mental health routine in the hopes to inspire you (and your daughter) to be curious to try out your own mental health routines to see what works for you.

 

 

Teen Mental Health: Ideas for Your Mental Health Routine

  1. Meditation– I meditate each morning before I start the action of my day and really find it settles my mind.
  2. Exercise Over the years my exercise routines have changed. I definitely try to get 30 minutes of movement each day (except for days like today where I’m not well)- even a walk counts on days where I have less energy.

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  3. Sugar lows– This is the biggest challenge for me, but I know when I eat less (and sometimes no) refined sugars I am my most calm and even self. Kicking the sugar habit is one that I struggle with the most.
  4. Reading– Whether I’m reading for entertainment or learning, immersing myself in a good book is so good for my mental health. I try to read a little each day.

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  5. Podcasts I love to learn and love stories, so podcasts are a great way to connect with both of these. In fact, the Hard As A Mother Podcast is a wonderful resource for parents. You can find their episode on teen mental health (featuring me) here: Ep. 38 Mental Health in Teens f. Chantal Cote.
     
  6. Art I don’t do this every day. Some weeks I spend more time writing poetry and drawing, other times I am appreciating other artists and their creations. Being around art and allowing myself to be creative is very important for my mental health.
  7. Friends Connecting with my friends, hearing about their lives, laughing and being there for each other is something I notice when I’m neglecting. If your teen doesn’t have a lot of friends and you’re worried about it, I wrote a blog article specifically for you! You can read it here: My Teen Doesn’t Have A Lot of Friends – Should I Be Concerned?
  8. Laughter This is like medicine to me and I can tell when I haven’t been laughing or playing much. Sometimes I put on a cheesy romantic comedy movie to get me laughing. I’ve also been to laughter yoga a few times which was remarkable and strange at the same time.

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  9. Time with Loved Ones I do like solo time to recharge my batteries. I also know that spending time with the people I feel most connected to fills me with love and gratitude.
  10. Trying new things I have to step out of my comfort box and remind myself of this one. When I do, my brain and body light up- it is important to live a life of adventure for me.
  11. Time with animalsI feel honoured to have a special bond with animals and as soon as I am with them, all my worries melt away.
  12. Volunteering I have been volunteering since I was a teen. Contributing and doing things for others makes me feel good and it makes a difference in their lives so it is truly a win-win.

    You can find 50 ways to involve your teen in community service (as well as volunteering) on the TeenLife blog HERE.
  13. OrganizingThis one is also a challenge for me for my creative brain, but I definitely feel more calm in a space that has order. I usually pick a small area to organize and feel my blood pressure drop at the finished product.
  14. Physical TouchHugs, sitting on the couch with toes touching (I know it makes some squeamish), snuggling, even high fives, I do like feeling physically connected to others.

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  15. Affirmations Lately I’ve been using an app that sends me affirmations a few times a day. I appreciate reading the statements, they remind me to take a moment to breathe and think about something positive. 
  16. Being part of support groups This has changed for me at different times. Currently I’m part of a few different groups of people who encourage each other while sharing their gifts and talents with one and another.

    The Happiness Pill Program:

    a 4-month group program I designed specifically for teen girls experiencing struggles with perfectionism, anxiety, or depression. Teens get some 1:1 appointments on me for specific tools, as well as weekly calls with teens experiencing similar struggles as them. For parents, there are 8 group calls – the best part about these groups so far, has been the community the parents have built! You can read more about the program HEREit is available online for anyone in North America!

     

  17. Learning something new each day I enjoy gaining new knowledge and new perspectives. Learning is informal and can come from many different places including the people I meet each day, the resources I read and listen to, the new things I try, and so on.
  18. Walking in nature As soon as I am outside and hear the sounds of nature and look at incredible landscapes, I am hooked- being in nature is definitely my happy place. It can be seaside or mountainside, I’m not picky.  
  19. Dreaming and setting goals I can’t say enough about having something to go for. It has been important to me to have a sense of purpose and be moving towards a goal or an idea. I find it fuels me greatly.

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  20. Loving and Gratitude The opposite of goal setting for me is taking the time to be in the moment and to appreciate everything right in front of me. Each day I take the time to say in my mind what I am grateful for. My mind then gets better at noticing small things throughout the day that are special and delightful.

    You can read more on the science behind gratitude for teens in a blog article Jessa Tiemstra wrote, a Provisional Psychologist on our team: Teen Happiness: The Science Behind Gratitude.

I’d love to hear what is part of your routine! You can email me any time with your ideas or questions at info@pyramidpsychology.com.

Teen Mental Health: Free Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls

If your teen daughter is a high achieving girl with big dreams, who is being held back by struggles with perfectionism, anxiety, and/or depression, the Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls is for you. You will receive a free PDF with 10 tools you can immediately implement to support your daughter, alongside several free webinars with various topics for improving your relationship with your teen. You can download your copy here:

Anxiety Toolkit

 

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Talk to you soon

Love,
Chantal 

 


Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.

Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.

Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

Planning For The Future After High School Graduation

 

Ahh, future planning for after high school graduation… You know those people who have always known what they wanted to do?

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I am not one of them.

I remember having friends in high school who were so certain about what job they wanted to do and had thought of all the steps to get there – attend university X in city Y, and if that does not work then university A in city B. Plan A had plan B, and plan B had plan C. I admired the passion and certainty. However, I also couldn’t help but wonder if there was something “wrong” with me because I did not have that same level of passion or certainty.

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Everyone’s journey is different, and I have learned that that is a beautiful thing. My journey has taken twists and turns, many of which I could not anticipate, and through a mix of choice, circumstance, and consequence, I have ended up where I am today. With this in mind, here are three tips for teens struggling with planning for after high school graduation:

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #1:  Let Go of Unhelpful Expectations

Not everyone has that “Ah-ha!” moment or knows their dream job since they were little. There is likely no job that is 100% perfect for you, but rather a list of potential options. With every option, there will be things about the job that you like and things that you don’t. The idea of the “perfect job”, and the expectation that you need to know it at 17 or 18 years old, are beliefs that are likely not serving you well. 

If you are unsure of what direction to take, perhaps a better way to look at planning for after high school graduation is to view it as a treasure map. You don’t know exactly how to get to the treasure, and you may not even know what the treasure is, but there are always steps to take and stones to turnover along the way. Even a “dead-end” can provide you with valuable information and experience!

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #2: Be Intentional 

Whatever you are considering after high school graduation, it can be helpful to be mindful and try to make your choices with intention. If being mindful is a new skill for you, my colleague here at Pyramid Psychology wrote an article that you may find helpful: Mindfulness for Teens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

There is no single “right way” to live your life or pursue your dreams, and there are so many ways to learn, grow, experience, and discover more about yourself and the world around you. Life after high school graduation could look like going to university or college right away, but it could also look like spending time working or travelling, taking a gap year (or two), getting hands-on experience, volunteering, or even taking a range of courses to see what interests you.

It is important to recognize that indecision is a decision. Indecision is not inherently right or wrong, but it may lead to discouragement and regret if it is your default state for a long time. It can end up feeling like your life is happening TO you, instead of you being in the drivers seat.

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #3: Keep Moving Forward

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With so many options and paths available, it can be easy to fall into “analysis paralysis” – dwelling, overthinking, and having thoughts spin and swirl around with no real progress or clarity. 

When this happens, try to narrow your focus, even if it is just by a bit. What interests you, makes you feel alive, or gives a sense of purpose?

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Some of the teens I work with have found it helpful to take interest tests, personality tests, and/or career tests to begin narrowing the scope of options… This is probably the psychology part of me speaking, but I think they are also kinda fun! Here is a list of potential quizzes to try out: The 13 Best Career Tests and Quizzes to Help You Find Your Dream Job.

Whether you know your dream job, have potential ideas, or have no clue at all, I hope this blog has provided encouragement and given you something to think about. I have a variety of tools available to help you through the emotional side of planning for after high school graduation; it can be helpful to learn skills for handling this, and get a new perspective on things. You can book a 1:1 appointment with me through my booking link:

 

Book an Appointment

 

 


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Teen Anxiety: The #1 Thing Teens Are Worried About

The #1 Thing Teens Are Worried About

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The Future. 

Does it fill your teen with excitement and possibility? Does it stress their brain out with worry and uncertainty? 

Many of the teens I work with say to me that the future is the Number 1 thing they worry about. The number 1 thing! More than friendships, more than what’s happening at school, more than ….well everything. How am I going to make money? What do I want to do? Do I take a gap year or go straight to school? What if I make the wrong decision?

Today’s teens are so informed and connected to possibilities that it can spin them into overwhelm so quickly. And if you’ve ever tried to make a decision from the place of emotions only (that chocolate cake looks so yummy and will taste so good and pleasurable)- you might know that it often ends up not being the best outcome (ooooiiii …. I really shouldn’t have had that last piece of chocolate cake). 

I’m joking and not joking- when teens make decisions from that place of fear and worry, they often get stuck, procrastinate, get sick, self-sabotage or just downright avoid.   

The point of this blog is not to alarm you. Instead, I would like to give you nine tools to support you (a parent of a teen), and your teen to welcome the future with a little less worry and a little more tranquility.

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #1: Set small goals
Having goals – things you want to accomplish, change, improve, or just try can be a great way to spark motivation and excitement over fear. Yes, some goals may feel scary or stretchy, like when I decided to leave my non-profit job after 15 years in the industry to pursue my passion to help teen girls build bulletproof mindsets- sssccccarrrryyy! And exciting!

Even the stretchiest biggest goals are made up of a series of smaller goals to get you there. Start by brainstorming goals for yourself (e.g I’d like to run a 5km marathon, I want to raise money for the local animal shelter, I want to make a new friend, etc.) that you’d like to accomplish over the next few months up to 1 year from now. Then identify 2 or maybe 3 goals that feel like small, achievable ones. You might even find some smaller goals hidden within your larger goals (e.g. talking to the person next to me in class next Monday, putting on my running clothes and run/walking for 10 minutes, researching animal shelters in my area, etc.). These are your targets to start taking action on.

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #2: Road map with lots of refueling breaks

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Having a plan can be helpful. Knowing that you have a roadmap to refer to or fall back on can help put your mind at ease. Less in the worry zone- more in the “I’ve got this” zone. You might go off course or choose to ditch your map, but just knowing you have one can be a great tool. If you think you might want to be an engineer and move to another city- great- What would that look like? Who could you talk to? What steps would you need to take to start heading in that direction? 

Plan for breaks along the way. Who knows what life is going to bring, so plan to refuel along the way. Take the time to map out some fun things you see in the roadmap, people you can go to, ways to relax, and so on.  

   

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #3: Use the wise mind strategy

A concept in DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) teaches that you can look at a situation from 3 perspectives.

The first is to look at things from the perspective of your emotional mind…Kind of like tapping into the emotion parts of the brain which is fine tuned for survival, fight/flight/freeze and reactivity. Great for when you need to hide or run from a bear! 

Then you have your reasonable/rational mind…Your ultra logical thinking brain that relies on what has happened in the past to make decisions today; what information you can access, and what logic is telling you. Great for analyzing and calculating the possibility of something occurring. 

Now if you tune into where the emotional mind and reasonable mind overlap, you get the Wise Mind- the part that is aware of your feelings and is able to reason. It’s the sweet spot in your thinking.

Source: 7 cups

Now think about your thoughts of the future – are you considering it solely from your Emotional mind? Your Rational mind? What would happen if you looked at it from your Wise mind? 

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #4: Talk to the experts

There are folks who specialize in helping people sort out options for their future. Career counsellors, guidance counsellors, teen career coaches,  just to name a few. This article has some great tips on where to begin and who to talk to. 

Having a third party person can be helpful in many ways, including a coach or therapist. I offer teen coaching with a parent element, as well as 1:1 therapy. You can get to know my services HERE.

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #5: Get to know yourself

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When I was younger and magazines were a big deal (aging myself here, haha), I was all over taking the quizzes. So many quizzes. I don’t know how accurate the information was or how valid for that matter, but it was about getting to know myself better- and having some fun. 

Here are a few neat online tests that can give you a perspective on you (or your teen): 

 

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #6: Self-reflect on your values

What really matters to you? When you live according to the things that are most important to you- things just flow a little more. There is less room for anxiety, worry, and uncertainty when you are doing, saying, and behaving in ways that are in sync with what you value.

If you’re not sure what your values are yet, you can start discovering them with this Values Card Exercise.

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Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #7: Enjoy the NOW

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Growing your mindfulness skills will definitely help with future worry. Being mindful helps you tune into your experience in the “right now” moment. The brain can’t be slipping into the future or dwelling on the past when it is being mindful of the ‘now’. This can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and bring some compassion and acceptance to your experience. 

I wrote a blog article all about mindfulness for teens that you may find helpful: Mindfulness for Teens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #8: Schedule worry time

It’s normal to experience worry. Everyone does. If worry and anxiety about the future are taking too much real estate in your brain, consider scheduling it in. 

Sound weird? 

Kim Pratt, LCSW shares that “whatever we do as humans over and over again, we get better at.  If we give in to our mind’s pull to worry, at random intervals throughout the day, then the ability to worry will grow stronger”. You can read more in this article.

So, in turn if you limit or schedule worries to a certain time, your brain gets better at processing those worries during those time periods.

Note: I would highly recommend avoiding close to bedtime as one of those worry times. Opt for times that are convenient for you to have time afterwards to chill, connect, and do something enjoyable.  

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #9: Ask helpful questions
When worry strikes, it can be all too easy to start asking questions. But are those questions helpful? Or are they getting you stuck in the pit of despair?

Here are a few examples of flipping worry-creating-questions into calm-the-worry-questions.

 

Worry-creating-questions Calm-the-worry-questions
How will I make money???? How many ways can I come up with to make a buck?
What if I don’t get into my top College pick? Where else would be interesting to go if I’m not going to my top College pick?

Which options have the best programs of interest for me?

What if I can’t figure this out? How can I figure this out? 
Do I take a gap year or go straight to school? I wonder what I’d come up with if I did a Cost Benefit Analysis for each of these options? 
What if I make the wrong decision? Most people don’t figure out their future in a straight and narrow- how can I have fun and learn along the way?

Anxiety, including worries about the future, is on the rise for teens. With the access they have to social media, the news, etc., they are carrying worries that you and I never had to. I have developed a 4-month program, The Happiness Pill, to counteract some of the anxiety your teen daughter is dealing with.

The program starts with a road map for you and your teen of what you want life to look like – both for her future, as well as your relationship with her going forward. There are then several parent coaching sessions – an opportunity for you to build a relationship with other parents, 1:1 sessions just for your teen, adn weekly group sessions for your daughter to meet other teens dealing with similar things. I give your teen the tools to handle her anxiety in a healthy way that leads her to a life of presence and joy. It will give her tools well beyond her current worries; tools that will carry her into the future. 

See the FAQ section on The Happiness Pill website for more information. You can email info@pyramidpsychology.com to get on the waiting list for the next intake as well.

 

The Happiness Pill

 

Here is to a future you enjoy.

Love,
Chantal 

 


Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.

Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.

Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

7 Tips to Discuss World Events With Teens

7 Tips to Discuss World Events With Teens

‘How do I discuss world events with my teen?’ is a question that has come up a lot lately for the parents we work with. Topics are coming up for teens around things like the ever changing restrictions (or removal of them) with the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, various demonstrations in Canada, etc. 

Simply ignoring these topics right now isn’t always the best solution, because your teen is hearing about it anyways – from the media, at school, through their friends, overhearing adults, etc.

Instead, it is important to open a line of communication with your teen where they can feel safe discussing some of their feelings, and asking questions.

We came up with 7 tips to discuss world events with teens for you. You can download a printable version for free HERE.

Discuss World Events With Your Teen Tip #1: Acknowledge the situation (circumstance/event) with your teen in a way that works for them.

It is important to keep in mind where your teen is developmentally. Consider these points when acknowledging the topic at hand:

sticking to facts as much as possible
✅ going into less detail with younger youth
✅ starting broad and following their lead

Discuss World Events With Your Teen Tip #2: Invite your teen to share what they are thinking and feeling.

Creating space for your teen to sort through what they’re taking in and how they are feeling about it can help them make meaning and express what’s going on for them. This can be done during family time, while going out for a drive, or by creating opportunities to check-in with them individually.

Note: It is also okay if your teen doesn’t say a lot, especially if they are less talkative or verbal in general!

Discussing World Events With Teens Tip #3: How can you help if your teen is feeling helpless?

If your teen is experiencing a feeling of helplessness and wanting to help in some way, but unsure how, you can support them… Encourage them to take action in a way that fits them. You can brainstorm different ideas together!

Discuss World Events With Your Teen tip #4: Remember that this conversation does not have to be a “one and done”.

With challenging or emotionally difficult topics, sometimes it is better to break up the topic into more manageable conversations. This helps reduce the likelihood of your teen feeling overwhelmed and helps them process the information.

Discuss World Events With Your Teen Tip #5: Use self-regulation and co-regulation strategies.

Self-regulation and co-regulation strategies can be used to keep the conversation calm, open, and nonjudgmental. Regulation is a big topic, but if you need some tips or ideas to get started check out THIS ARTICLE.

Here are a few top tips:

  • Take a few deep breaths before and during the conversation.
  • Pay attention to the sensations in your body (is your head pounding, stomach turning, etc.)
  • Acknowledge, label, and share your feelings “I’m feeling so sad about this right now:

Discuss World Events With Your Teen Tip #6: Thank your teen

Let your teen know that you are thankful they were willing to talk with you about the difficult topic. Having hard conversations can be intimidating, and it can take a great deal of bravery, honesty, and vulnerability.

Acknowledge that the topic is difficult and also your teen’s strengths in being willing to talk about it!

Discuss World Events With Your Teen Tip #7: Let your teen know it’s okay to take a break.

Steeping themselves in constant information and stories about what is going on is often not helpful and creates more stress and anxiety. (And yes we acknowledge that this is a privilege that we get to turn off the TV or put the phone down.)

Encourage your teen to take breaks to connect with others, do something they enjoy, or share a talent or skill and put something beautiful out in this world.

If you found these tips helpful, share with a friend and download your free printable version HERE.

It is also okay to recognize if you need outside help to ensure your teen’s mental wellness is doing well. We offer 1:1 counselling virtually, or in-person. You can get to know our team and book a free parent consultation with us HERE.

Love,

Team Pyramid Psychology – Chantal, Jessa, and Ally

 


Counselling (or therapy) is a support that helps people who are facing difficult situations. It’s not meant to “fix you” and it does not mean “something is wrong” with you. It’s about offering a safe place to try new ideas, resolve problems, make changes, and move towards the life you want to live. Different therapists can help people work towards personal, relationship, athletic, educational, and career hopes and go​als.

Counselling is a combination of expressing yourself, being witnessed (listened to), discovering resources, and learning new things. There will be times when you will be sharing about your experiences and your counsellor will listen. There are other times when you will be discovering things that will support you to get through difficult situations. Sometimes your therapist will share information, ideas, and resources with you.

We help teen girls build bulletproof mindsets through:

  • Transforming negative self-talk into confidence, clarity and strength
  • Embracing self-love and stepping into the spotlight
  • Learning who to let into their squad of BFFs

You can learn more about each of our team members HERE or book a free consultation HERE.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

How To Handle Change For Teens

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The topic for this month at Pyramid Psychology is how to heal and handle change for teens. Significant changes have occurred for most of us in the last few years, many of which we have never experienced before.

A lot of the change has had to do with Covid-19 and all the change that has occurred at the personal, family, and societal levels. But even if Covid-19 was not actually the most significant or meaningful recent change in your life, handling change is important for you as a teen.

If the changes in your life are stopping you from living life the way you normally do, or you are feeling anxious or depressed, you can book a free consultation for 1:1 therapy with me here:

Book a Free Consultation

Here are my top two tips for handling change as a teen:

Change For Teens Tip #1: Acknowledge

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Tip #1 for dealing with change for teens is to acknowledge that the change is happening, as well as all of the associated thoughts and feelings that are coming up as a result. Change is often bittersweet and may include feelings like hopefulness, relief, excitement, and peace, but also anxiety, uncertainty, sadness, and loss. Whatever your experience may be, try to give it room to just be. It is so easy to immediately judge whatever thoughts and feelings may be coming up.

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One judgement I hear a lot from the teens I work with is, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way because other people have it so much worse.” While this may be factually true, this line of thinking isn’t particularly helpful for anybody. Rather, these thoughts serve to add negative judgement and guilt on top of the existing struggle with change. It’s like another tablespoon of salt on top of an already too salty pizza.

Other people can have it worse AND you can still be struggling with your own experience; there does not need to be a competition for “who has it the worst”. Giving room for your own experience may actually help you support those around you who may be struggling. This is similar to the idea of filling your own cup before you can pour out to others. Acknowledging your experience does not mean that all the thoughts and feelings that come up are true, but it does give you the choice to be curious about them and make better-informed decisions.

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Change For Teens Tip #2: The Boundary of Control

An idea I often introduce in my sessions is the boundary of control, which encourages teens to think about all the things that they can control or influence in a situation and all the things that they can not. In getting clear about this distinction, you can redirect your focus and energy into those things that you can do. Examples of things you can control when it comes to change, include your own words, actions, boundaries, beliefs, and self-care. In contrast, examples of things that you cannot control include the behaviours and words of others, what others may think, and the priorities of other people.

As an activity or point of reflection for yourself, think about what factors are inside of and outside of your control when it comes to Covid restrictions in Alberta being loosened. You can draw a circle and create a photo like the one below to add to this exercise:

Website: Laurahutchingstherapy.co.uk

Whatever change you may be facing, remember to acknowledge your experience, be curious and non-judgmental, and invest your energy into those things that you can control or influence. I believe in you!

Sometimes when you acknowledge what’s going on, you may realize that the emotions you are experiencing are a lot to handle. It’s perfectly normal to need an outside perspective or safe person to speak to. I specialize in supporting teens like you (through therapy) to navigate change in a positive way that builds ok your confidence. I would love to meet you. You can book a free consultation with me on our website:

Book a Free Consultation

 


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Perfectionism – 5 Questions To Ask Your Teen

Perfectionism

What is this thing anyway?

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The research defines perfectionism in a variety of ways. Without diving into the substantial research that exists on the topic, here are two perspectives on perfectionism, with links for further research.

Some perspectives view perfectionism as being a personality trait –  People with perfectionism have a tendency to be more conscientious and also score higher in neuroticism. (Neuroticism is a fancy word in the psychological literature that essentially describes a person’s tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and self-doubt.)

Other perspectives view perfectionism as a combination of beliefs and behaviours

No matter how you define it, perfectionism seems to be a complex trait that consists of a dynamic mix of genetics, personality, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviours.

In addition to what perfectionism is, the focus of perfectionism can differ. You can read about three different types HERE.

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Most often though, perfectionism is talked about in a way that is directed inward. Your teen can set high expectations for themselves across contexts such as school, sports, hobbies, performances, or relationships. Having high self-expectations can come from a place of internal motivation to succeed but can also come from pressure from others or from societal expectations. In the former, your teen is running toward a goal, whereas in the latter, they are running away from a fear of failure or judgement.

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Perfectionism can also be directed outward and can be seen as rigid, high standards your teen places on others OR they are having placed on them. In this other-oriented perfectionism, there is an expectation for others to be perfect (or close to!) and subsequent negative judgments when they are not.

So, what do I do with this information?

Knowing the underlying factors influencing perfectionism can help you support your teen, or maybe even yourself – knowledge is power! Consider the following prompts for self-reflection or in conversation with your teen:

  • Where are the perfectionist tendencies coming from?
  • Are they tied to my genetics or personality traits, or have I picked up some perfectionist tendencies from somewhere else?

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  • Is my perfectionism directed at myself or others?

o   How would I like to be treated?

o   Where does the idea of compassion fit into my strivings for perfection?

  • What is the root of my perfectionism – am I striving toward something I genuinely care about or am I running away from the potential of judgement, embarrassment, or sense of failure?
  • When I “fail”, what am I telling myself? Are these thoughts true or kind?
  •  Since being perfect is impossible (we are human after all), what is a more realistic and helpful value to live by?

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If you are struggling with perfectionism yourself, our team at Pyramid Psychology compiled our knowledge and wrote a blog specifically for you: Why Trying To Be A Perfect Parent Isn’t Serving You.

If you’re watching your teen struggle with perfectionism, Chantal Cote – psychologist, teen coach and Founder of Pyramid Psychology – wrote a blog article with tips to help your daughter through it: 3 Ways To Help Your Daughter Stop Perfectionist Thinking.

 

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 Perfectionism is often linked to feelings of anxiety or depression, particularly in teen girls who are already prone to these emotions. We have developed a toolkit with 10 tools to help you build resilience for your daughter. You can download your free copy here:

 

Free Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Teen Perfectionism Has You Stuck in Thinking Traps

“I could have done better.” “I’ll never be good enough.”

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 Many individuals experience these thoughts from time to time, however, when they become excessive, it can be incredibly overwhelming and take a toll on your functioning – especially for a teen whose brain is developing so many things at once.

My own journey with perfectionism started by gaining a deeper understanding of cognitive distortions or “thinking traps.” Thinking traps are unhelpful patterns of thought that can prevent us from seeing things as they really are. There are several types of thinking traps. Here are some more common thinking traps with teen perfectionism:

Teen Perfectionism Thinking Trap #1: All-or-Nothing Thinking:

Viewing situations or events in absolute terms: good or bad, success or failure.

Example: You get a bad grade on a test and believe you will fail the subject.

 

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Teen Perfectionism Thinking Trap #2: Personalization and Blame

Taking responsibility or placing blame on oneself when an event is completely or partially out of your control.

Example: Someone is talking about qualities of a bad friend and you believe they are calling you a bad friend.

 

Teen Perfectionism Thinking Trap #3: Labelling

Making an extreme judgement about yourself or someone else without considering other factors.

Example: You label yourself as stupid for getting a bad mark on a test.

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Anxiety Canada shares some more examples of thinking traps HERE.

 While perfectionism can feel motivating and like it is helping you achieve your goals, being particularly self-critical can be harmful to your self-worth… Perfectionism itself is a trap because perfection doesn’t exist!

 Understanding and recognizing these thinking traps is a great place to start! My top two tips for continuing to tackle teen perfectionism are:

#1 Keeping a diary can help track thoughts and emotions that are connected to perfectionism thinking traps. It can increase awareness.

#2 Practising self-compassion is one of the most helpful ways to tackle your inner critic. Be kind to yourself! You can read more about how to develop self-compassion for yourself in another blog from our team: Self-Compassion: How Caring Can Stop Teen Depression In Its Tracks.

Working through the emotions around perfectionism, and helping you to decide whether it is really helpful or not to you, are some of the ways I can help you in one to one counselling. Sometimes, having an outside ear to listen can be so helpful with these thinking traps! I am currently offering 1:1 sessions for Alberta teens – online or in-person (Calgary) for the very affordable price of $40 per hour. You can book a free consultation to get to know me better HERE.

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Counselling (or therapy) is a support that helps people who are facing difficult situations. It’s not meant to “fix you” and it does not mean “something is wrong” with you. It’s about offering a safe place to try new ideas, resolve problems, make changes, and move towards the life you want to live. Different therapists can help people work towards personal, relationship, athletic, educational, and career hopes and go​als.

Counselling is a combination of expressing yourself, being witnessed (listened to), discovering resources, and learning new things. There will be times when you will be sharing about your experiences and your counsellor will listen. There are other times when you will be discovering things that will support you to get through difficult situations. Sometimes your therapist will share information, ideas, and resources with you.

We help teen girls build bulletproof mindsets through:

  • Transforming negative self-talk into confidence, clarity and strength
  • Embracing self-love and stepping into the spotlight
  • Learning who to let into their squad of BFFs

You can learn more about each of our team members HERE or book a free consultation HERE.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Why Trying to be a Perfect Parent Isn’t Serving You

What do the words ‘Perfect Parent’ mean to you?

Many parents who come to us have experienced perfectionist thinking traps. Recognizing that you are in a ‘perfect parent’ trap of thoughts is the first step to empowering yourself as a parent.

Here are the three most common perfectionism thinking traps that parents have shared with our team at Pyramid Psychology:

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Perfect Parent Thinking Trap #1:

As a parent, you likely have an ideal in your mind of how parenting is supposed to look. Oftentimes, the vision you have includes very hard to reach (AKA unrealistic) standards for yourself. 

The ‘perfect parent’ ideal is usually a combination of messages you’ve heard consciously or unconsciously from many possible sources. Here are some common sources of parenting messages:

  • The beliefs and values your parents had when you were growing up.
  • Watching your friends become parents.
  • Online or in-person parent groups, clubs, etc.
  • Social media.

A lot of the messages you have heard, and place on yourself, are putting a lot of pressure on you and aren’t serving you or your family.

This is a reminder to take a look at the parenting message you withhold for yourself: is it empowering to you? Or is it chipping away at yourself? If you’d like to dive into this concept more, Colleen O’Grady wrote a powerful book – Dial Down the Drama – that talks about powerless versus powerful parenting messages. You can read the synopsis HERE.

 

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Perfect Parent Thinking Trap #2:

Another Perfect Parent Thinking Trap is when you tie your teen’s success (or failures) directly to your own self worth, or your ‘grade’ as a parent. When you’re in this perfectionism trap, you will feel like your teen’s failures or mistakes are a direct reflection of you as a parent – you will also see their success as a reflection of your parenting as well.

Although you do influence and impact your teen’s life, you are also not directly linked in such a way that whatever your child does is a direct reflection of you, and vice versa. They are their own human, and so are you. Connecting your ‘success’ as a parent to your teen is a risky thought pattern to get into.

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Perfect Parent Thinking Trap #3:

There can often be a lot of pressure put on you as a parent – internally and externally – to be a ‘super’ parent. This can create a trap of perfectionism thinking; a belief that you must be a perfect parent and show up for everything for your teen and be fully engaged + present.

You may be stuck in this trap if you feel you need to do everything you can for your teen and be your very best. You feel you must go the extra mile every time you show up for your teen.

The reality is that things are going to come up and your attention is going to be divided. You have other responsibilities – a partner, friends, work, other siblings etc., are just some of the things that need your attention too! Setting such a high standard for yourself to be a ‘super parent’ is putting a lot of pressure on you, and is setting yourself up for failure.

You may notice that your teen struggles with perfectionism as well – she is also being inundated with messages around who she ‘should’ be and what she ‘should’ be achieving in life. These thinking traps can lead to anxiety, depression, and disconnection for both of you. The Happiness Pill Teen Coaching program is a 4-month coaching program developed by our Founder, Psychologist and Teen Coach – Chantal Côté that focuses on developing skills to handle these thinking traps.

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In the program, you will work with your teen to discover what she wants most in her life – and how to get there. You will get on the same page as her, and then learn how to support her along the way (including how to battle your perfectionism thinking traps). There is 1:1 coaching AND group coaching for your teen, so she can build relationships with other teens who are experiencing the same pressure she is. You can get the details here:

The Happiness Pill Teen Life Coaching Program


Counselling (or therapy) is a support that helps people who are facing difficult situations. It’s not meant to “fix you” and it does not mean “something is wrong” with you. It’s about offering a safe place to try new ideas, resolve problems, make changes, and move towards the life you want to live. Different therapists can help people work towards personal, relationship, athletic, educational, and career hopes and go​als.

Counselling is a combination of expressing yourself, being witnessed (listened to), discovering resources, and learning new things. There will be times when you will be sharing about your experiences and your counsellor will listen. There are other times when you will be discovering things that will support you to get through difficult situations. Sometimes your therapist will share information, ideas, and resources with you.

We help teen girls build bulletproof mindsets through:

  • Transforming negative self-talk into confidence, clarity and strength
  • Embracing self-love and stepping into the spotlight
  • Learning who to let into their squad of BFFs

You can learn more about each of our team members HERE or book a free consultation HERE.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

 

Parenting Teens: A Word of Intention

As I navigate parenting teens, I am always reading to learn more. As I was reading the latest book by Michelle Borba, Thrivers, I was feeling full of hope by her message – ‘By nurturing 7 specific character strengths in our teens, we are practically guaranteed to get them from stressing to thriving’, I couldn’t wait to share this message with the parents of the amazing teen girls I support every day. Something happened as I kept reading. Those feelings of hope and excitement faded beneath a shadow of something else – Self-doubt? Overwhelm? Definitely annoyance. Shame… What was happening?

Well, there is so much information out there, really great stuff, ready and available at our fingertips to equip us to be the best possible parents. So much in fact, that it can quickly feel like too much, that we are constantly failing to keep up on the newest parenting standards. As I read the book, I was getting caught up in the parenting rat race thoughts of “I’m not doing enough”, “not good enough”, “there isn’t enough time, resources, knowledge to parent like this’ ‘, etc.

The role of parenting can be one of the most rewarding experiences. It can also be one that feels isolating; Am I the only whose teen…..?- Are others unsure about how to handle….? – and many parts of parenting seem to operate under a covert set of rules. It’s not an easy undertaking.

There was this meme going around at the height of the pandemic when most parents were at home and kids were attending classes online: It went something like – “My co-workers are the worst. They walk around half-naked, blast their music, and demand food from me”. I definitely cracked a smile and gave a good head nod in recognition of this common at home scenario. The thing is parenting is a non-stop role that keeps us onboard… Well, forever. So it’s a wonder to me how parenting, especially the behind the scenes of it, is not talked about with more acceptance, awareness, and love.

As you step into the new year – which really is an arbitrary time to select, but seems to be a socially accepted time to reset or start anew, why not highlight your intentions as a parent and to do so lovingly with awareness and acceptance.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Parenting Teens: Letting Go of Perfection

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

There is just no such thing as perfection. When raising teens, it is more of an art than a science. There is definitely science behind a lot of what is happening in your teen’s brain and body that helps explain the behaviors you see – but when it comes to the manual on parenting – it doesn’t exist. You can watch this link for a short Netflix clip on the topic. The quicker you can let go of getting right all the time and company ring to other parents (guaranteed to bring about bad feelings!), the quicker you can step into being a more present parent. Challenge yourself to drop the struggle with perfection. It will create more empathy in your parent-teen relationship (the ‘me’ to ‘we’ concept). It also releases the pressure valve on stress for both you and your teen.

Parenting Teens: Intention

Intentional, thoughtful parenting is more aware. You question why you do what you do. You stop and think before jumping on the bandwagon of the latest parenting trend or keep doing what you’re doing just because that’s the way it’s always been done. Yes, it requires a little more effort to show up in this way. Yes, it can be so tempting to just hang out at

Photo by Jhon David on Unsplash

cruising altitude. Everyone wins when we parent with intention. Values guide parenting with intention. What matters most to you, becomes your North star. You’ll know when you’re aligned because you’ll feel more solid, certain, and frankly that things are easier (easier, but not perfect).

Parenting Teens: Action

In many ways I’m the master of getting pumped up to try something new and then fizzling out after a few weeks. When it comes to putting your parenting intentions into action, it is crucial to walk the walk, and keep walking the walk, until it becomes almost second nature. Modeling by way of what you say, what you do, and sharing about the values that matters most to you.

I see you amazing parents who love your teens dearly and just want them to be happy. Here’s to 2022 being a year of loving intentions that nurture not only your teen, but you who are doing your very best.

Love,
Chantal


Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.

Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.

Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

Teen Disconnection: How to Stop Feeling Empty

A few weeks ago, a teen was telling me that when she feels stressed, she just grinds through the situation. Afterwards, she notices feeling so disconnected from the experience; empty. She laughed and said, “it’s fine when it’s getting school work done or something, but it really sucks when I want to enjoy spending time with my friends and stuff like that”.

We all have events, situations and even times of the year that can send us into full on automatic pilot – going through the motions from thing to thing. Then, before we know it, the moment has passed and we feel empty and disconnected. 

 

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In my own life, I remember getting ready for my kids’ birthday parties when they were younger. We loved inviting as many people as possible and having big gatherings with kids running around, laughing, and having the best time. The first couple times I did this, I remember getting into checklist mode, getting things done in a rather robotic manner. If people asked how I was doing, the answer was always a simple “good”. As soon as the party was done, I would want to collapse to take the biggest snooze and I felt kinda numb.

Over the years, I’ve changed and started to allow myself to pause, check-in, and be curious about my experiences in times like these.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I still need to buckle down and get sh$t done! But checking-in and pausing has been such a significant shift. The more I practice this, the more I’m able to accept whatever shows up – whatever I’m feeling – and fully enjoy how my experiences feel.

Back to the teen I was talking to – she decided to challenge herself to regularly check-in on her inner experience using the techniques I will share with you down below. Here’s what’s incredible – she came back saying she still had some tough experiences where she was stressed – but she felt more in control. She knew what to do with that stress and could choose how to help herself. She also shared about having some really great hangouts with friends. 

Over these next few weeks, while you (hopefully) have a break from your regular routine over the holidays, challenge yourself to do a little stop, pause and check-in on some of your experiences.

Checking in is great to do before something that you find stressful, when you’re feeling confused or unsure about how you’re feeling, or at the beginning or end of your day… It can help set the intention of your day or help you wind down.

Here are 3 techniques you can use to check-in and decrease teen disconnection:

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An Exercise to Decrease Teen Disconnection: STOP

Take a moment to check-in with this simple practice. You can use the STOP acronym anytime, anywhere.

  • S – Stop. Nothing more to do here – you can keep this simple! Or, you can also be a little playful with this by imagining a stop sign in front of you or the word STOP in fun neon letters dancing around… Or maybe your inner voice yelling STOP
  •  T – Take a breath. No need to change your breathing here. Simply take a breath, in and out!

  • O – Observe what is happening. Take a minute to observe what is happening for you – check your inner experience, your thoughts, feelings, any sensations in your body. You can also check in on what you’re seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, tasting.

  • P – Proceed with Intention.  Here’s a chance to respond thoughtfully and proceed with awareness.

Here is an example of a time you can use this technique to decrease teen disconnection:

You’re getting frustrated about a school assignment that’s due tomorrow.

S STOP

T Take a breath

O I’m feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. My jaw is clenched. I have a headache and it’s hard to concentrate. It’s due tomorrow and I’m stressed about being behind.

P I’m going to get up and grab a glass of water and take a few minutes to stop looking at my screen. I’ll get back to it with fresh eyes. 

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An Exercise to Decrease Teen Disconnection: SIFT

This exercise comes out of the work of Daniel Siegel and is part of what he calls mindsight – the ability to look inwards and understand our inner experiences. Imagine kind of sifting through your mind and seeing what shows up in that moment. It’s different every time!

  • S – Sensations. List any sensations that you are noticing from head to toe or toe to head. Be curious with your list; no judgement.

  • I – Images. List any images that are dropping in for you. They may be stills like a photo or motion pictures like a movie. Or you could see colours, shapes, symbols, words… You might not notice any images at all! There is no right or wrong here, each person is different. 
  • F – Feelings. List any emotions you are experiencing right now – again, with curiosity and no judgement. You may notice one dominant emotion, or many mixed emotions. There could be a lack of emotions too. Everything is welcome!

  • T – Thoughts. List any thoughts that show up in your mind. What is your brain thinking? You may notice repetitive thoughts, questions, random thoughts, etc. Anything goes!

Here is an example of SIFT in action:

You’re hanging out with your friends.

S my cheeks and mouth are smiling. My chest is kind of warm – happy. 

I not much. Seeing my friend’s face laughing.

F feeling happy. Excited. Loved

T this is fun. I’m just enjoying the moment. 

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You can watch a video on this technique here.

An Exercise to Decrease Teen Disconnection: RAIN

This practice can be used to help you set an intention before you start something. It can also be a good practice to do when you are feeling stressed and anxious. I share the short version of this technique below. You can read about it in more detail here.

  • R – Recognize what’s going on. Take a moment to notice what is happening – how you are feeling, what thoughts you are experiencing, what the challenge is.

  • A – Allow the experience to be just as it is. Instead of trying to solve it, ignore it, or push it away, see if you can give yourself permission to just allow it to be what it is for a moment.

  • I – Investigate with kindness. Take some time to be curious about your experience – your beliefs about what’s happening, your inner experience, noticing what is calling your attention the most, etc.

  • N – Nurture with Loving Awareness. This is where you respond with loving kindness. You offer yourself self-compassion. You are aware of your experience lovingly. 

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Here is an example of a time you could use the RAIN technique:

You are feeling really anxious and overwhelmed. 

R I’m feeling anxious. I don’t want to go to school. I just want to lie in bed.

A I’m anxious and that is ok. I can allow it to be what it is right now. It’s not right or wrong- there is nothing wrong or broken about me. 

I My heart is beating fast. My throat is tight. I think there’s something wrong with me a lot. I’m telling myself it’s ok and it will pass. 

N Others feel this way sometimes. I’m noticing my anxiety and I’m ok – I am going to be ok. I can try putting my hand on my heart for a second and breathe.

If you’d like hands on support to implement presence in your life and decrease the feelings of teen disconnection, check out The Happiness Pill program – my signature coaching program for teens like you!

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You can learn about the science behind mindfulness and get even more tools with my article Mindfulness for Teens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

Here’s to practicing some of these and discovering your incredible resilience and enjoying the good moments so much more. 

Love,

Chantal 

 


Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.

Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.

Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.