Processing emotions for a PEACEFUL heart

What gives you mental PEACE?

The other day I had a rare opportunity to sleep in. I could sleep for another hour, but my mind wouldn’t let me. My head was just too full of spinning thoughts to have any chance of falling back to sleep. So I went downstairs to the treadmill and ran. The rhythmic motion of my body and the exertion of elevating my heart rate moved my anxiety out of my head, through my legs and arms, and OUT. After my run I was able to look at my to-do list with a solution driven-mindset, instead of looking at it through a lens of anxiety. None of my problems went away. What DID go away was the anxiety that was blocking me from taking the next step toward my goals.

I don’t love to run. I’m not an athletic person. But I have realised that physical activity is ONE of the ways for me to process my emotions so that I can have PEACE of mind. When I haven’t exercised, I start feeling worried and stressed.

This awareness did not come to me overnight. It wasn’t until I started developing a mindfulness practice that I became aware of the signals that my body and mind were sending to me that I needed to process my emotions.  I needed to NOTICE my emotions (and not just hide them) before I could learn how to process them. By learning to take small moments to actually BE in the present moments, I’ve learned to notice what I’m feeling. Before mindfulness, my emotions were like a beach ball that I was trying to hide under water. It took a lot of energy to keep pushing my emotions under the surface, and inevitably, I would get tired, and POP! Up surfaced all the emotions I’d been trying to hide, usually at a time when I was NOT prepared to handle them. When my anger and frustration and resentment popped to the surface, EVERYONE noticed my emotions, I would cry, or snap at my kids or my partner, or internally fume with resentment. Yikes! I’d think. How did I get here? Why did that one little thing set me off?

Practicing mindfulness has helped me to notice how I’m feeling at multiple points throughout the day so I can acknowledge my emotions and take care of them before they build up. It’s not that I don’t feel frustrated or angry anymore, it’s that I notice those emotions sooner, so I can identify WHY I’m feeling that way, and do something about it.

Here’s how YOU can start to notice your emotions:

  • Take three deep breaths and ask yourself “How am I feeling right now?”
  • Sit for 2 minutes and look out the window and tune in to your emotions
  • Write out your to-do list and then ask yourself “How does this list make me feel?”
  • Look at the emojis on your phone and ask yourself “What am I feeling?”

Once you’ve established WHAT you’re feeling, you need to figure out how to PROCESS that feeling.

How do you process your emotions?

  • Do you MOVE? Breathe deeply, talk, dance, run, kickbox, wrestle.
  • Do you use WORDS? Talk with friends, write in a journal.
  • Do you escape into STORIES? Watch a good movie, play video games, read a good book, or watch sports to go on an emotional journey so you can feel the range of your emotions.

After you’ve taken some time processing your emotions, you can reflect from a more resourceful mindset about what got you into that highly charged state. This is the time when you might need to take action in your life by making a phone call, scheduling some time for yourself, or setting a boundary. This way, you are truly responding to the circumstances of your life.

The skill of NOTICING your emotions and the skill of PROCESSING your emotions are critical for teens who are experiencing their emotions on high volume. Often we feel like our emotions are happening TO us, when in reality, our emotions are moving THROUGH us, to give us information about what we need to attend to in our lives. The more adults who can remind teens that their emotions give them VALUABLE INFORMATION, and the more adults who can help teens find a way to PROCESS their emotions, the more resourceful our teens will become. Teens will understand that their emotions aren’t happening TO them, they are happening FOR them to pay attention to their needs.

A peaceful heart can be cultivated by noticing and processing your emotions.

Teens finding HOPE amidst despair

Does your teen dare to hope?

Teens are reporting higher levels of anxiety, stress and overwhelm each year; despair looms larger than hope. Many of my students feel like everything has already been thought, it has already been said, and they wonder what they could possibly contribute to the world. In this disconnected and isolated space, hope becomes a radical proposition. I’ve heard from many parents who are worried because their teen DOESN’T have any hopes or dreams.

So, how do we nurture our children’s hopes and dreams? How do we hold open the door of possibility?

Hope is all about having a new perspective. It is about seeing the evidence in the present moment that good things are on their way in the future. My students who have been involved in service projects or community groups all see evidence that that their presence is valuable.  Whether they volunteered at a Senior’s home, spent time babysitting small children, or volunteered at a community event, they all report feeling connected to the people they serve, and knowing that their presence makes a difference. Teens need to see evidence of their efforts being worthwhile. If they can see the face of a child or a senior light up, they have the undeniable instant feedback that THEY MATTER. This is just one way of providing our teens with the HOPE that their life will continue to matter.

Another powerful way of nurturing dreams and cultivating hope is through inspiring stories. In October I have the incredible honour of interviewing Mark Black for the LIT FROM WITHIN speaker series.

Mark Black is a man who knows about hope. At age 23 Mark faced an unimaginable challenge; His doctor informed him that his heart was failing. Without a rare and dangerous heart and double-lung transplant he would not see his 25th birthday. Three years later, after receiving his second chance at life, Mark ran his first marathon. Since then, Mark has gone on to run more marathons, develop a successful career, and raise a family. Mark Black, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is a Heart and Double-Lung Transplant Recipient, 4-time marathoner, resilience expert, speaker, and coach. Mark helps people “Thrive in Challenging Times”.  A Certified Speaking Professional, Mark has inspired more than 100,000 people in more than 350 presentations. CLICK HERE for the interviews

Not only is telling stories of hope about other people important, but as you’ll see from Mark’s interviews, the stories we tell ourselves are also critically important. One of my favourite take-aways from these interviews was Mark’s question about “which bucket are you rummaging around in?” which is really his metaphor for asking which stories we are telling ourselves, about ourselves, most often. One of the most powerful themes of the LIT FROM WITHIN speaker series is the importance of training your mind to focus on thoughts that are helpful and life-affirming. When we can tell ourselves the best version of our story, we can dare to dream about a compelling future ahead.

CLICK HERE to enjoy this video encore with Mark Black. My hope is that you’ll be inspired to dream a bigger dream.

Expand.

Open the door to possibility.

Think bigger.

HOPE

Holiday Harmony With Your Teens

I know that the pressure is ON for everyone in these last few weeks of December.

The holidays are supposed to be a time to connect with family and friends, but sometimes, the tension is so high that these are the days of the most frustration, resentment, and disappointment. Our teens are riding the rollercoaster of emotions as they are reminded that one more year has passed, and the regular family holiday traditions that they once enjoyed don’t give them the same feelings anymore. If you want HARMONY with your teens this holiday, give yourself the gift of one hour to truly prepare for the holidays.

You’re invited to Holiday Harmony With Your Teens, a free 75 minute RETREAT webinar designed to get your out of overwhelm and into what is really important. Together we’ll explore HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE and how those qualities can help you create a lasting connection with your teens.

Holiday Harmony With Your Teens is available until December 23rd.

CLICK HERE to watch.

With tidings of comfort and joy,

Deanne

How to influence teens to be more confident, independent and resourceful

Have you seen the November cover of Time magazine?

My heart dropped into my stomach when I picked up a copy of November’s Time magazine with the headline, “Anxiety, Depression and the American Adolescent”. I couldn’t help but think of the 15 year old student who told me so matter-of-factly about her sister’s recent recovery from cutting. Then I thought about all the times that a student would be absent from my class for a few days before I got an e-mail from the school councellor telling me that the student had been hospitalised for mental health reasons.  Time magazine’s November issue is highlighting what those of us who work with youth have known for a long time. Our youth are not doing well, and it’s not just THEIR problem, it’s OUR problem. The epidemic of youth depression and anxiety is a signal that we need to change…but where do we begin?

copy-of-copy-of-the-resilient-teen-blueprint

Many of you were wanting to know more about teen resilience, so I’ve created a 50 minute webinar for you to hear more about what we can actually do to impact the lives of teens.

Click THIS LINK to join me for The Resilient Teen Blueprint: How to influence teens to be more confident, independent and resourceful

 

I offered 50 minutes of FREE training LIVE on Monday, November 21 at  7:30pm MST and npw you can watchthe replay!

Click THIS LINK to access the replay.

With gratitude,

Deanne Barrett

P.S. Our teens need us now more than ever. Please share this invitation with the teens and teen supporters in your circles who are ready to make a difference. To watch the replay of The Resilient Teen Blueprint: How to influence teens to be more confident, independent and resourceful CLICK HERE

How can we support “wellness” for high school students?

img_1130I’ve been teaching high school English Language Arts in the province of Alberta, Canada, for the past 14 years. In 2009, Alberta Education developed a definition of wellness which states :

Wellness is a balanced state of emotional, intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual well-being that enables students to reach their full potential in the school community. Personal wellness occurs with commitment to lifestyle choices based on healthy attitudes and actions.  (2015, Alberta Education,   Framework for K to 12 Wellness Education  )

Alberta Education has divided Wellness into five categories,

  1. emotional wellness,
  2. social wellness,
  3. intellectual wellness,
  4. physical wellness
  5. spiritual wellness

In the past number of years, I’ve been working with my teaching colleagues on wellness initiatives that address each of these categories within high school classrooms, which for me included incorporating meditation and self-reflection into my English courses.  The heart of wellness education is not just for students to learn about the concepts of wellness, but to create a culture of wellness where students can have experiences and opportunities to practice making choices that are good for their health.  This clear focus on Wellness Education inspired me to step outside the classroom and create a 25 day online speaker summit, LIT FROM WITHIN: Connecting teens to their own inner resources for success in school AND life, which was available in October 2016. LIT FROM WITHIN directly addresses  the questions faced by high school youth and their parents as they reach for a life of making healthy decisions.  Here are each of the five categories of wellness as they are defined by Alberta Education, with the questions I’ve posed in the interviews on LIT FROM WITHIN.

Emotional wellness is acknowledging, understanding, managing and expressing thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner.

  • Do you hate spending time alone because of the thoughts in your head?
  • Wishing you were prettier/taller/stronger/cooler?
  • Are you tying yourself in knots trying to think your way into feeling differently?
  • Which is worse: the guilt of cheating, or the shame of not feeling like you’re enough?
  • Are you willing to break down your fears and learn about yourself?
  • Do you have ALL THE SELF CONFIDENCE YOU COULD EVER WANT?
  • Feeling overwhelmed or anxious?
  • What is meditation, and how can it help me?
  • Are you tying yourself in knots trying to think your way into feeling differently?

Social Wellness is relating positively to others and is influenced by many factors including how individuals communicate, establish and maintain relationships, are treated by others and interpret that treatment.

  • Does everyone else’s life on Facebook and Twitter look better than yours?
  • Are you wondering how to find a mentor?
  • Have you been world schooling without knowing it?
  • Do you have the travel bug?
  • Are you tired of people asking what you’re going to do after high school?

Intellectual Wellness is the development and the critical and creative use of the mind to its fullest potential.

  • Do you have great ideas but struggle to get things done?
  • Do you know that there are scientific reasons that teens still need their parents?
  • What kind of person do you want to be on, and off the web?
  • How can we set limits for our technology use, and why would we want to?
  • How do we go from knowing something to ACTUALLY doing it?
  • What are you curious about? Do you even know HOW to be curious?
  • Why are so many “successful” people so miserable…and how to avoid that trap!
  • Are you waiting to get out of school and into the “real world”?
  • Study-distraction-stress, how do I get out of this cycle?
  • How do I move closer to my goals?
  • What is actually happening in my brain when I learn?
  • Do you every feel like your brain has been hijacked and you’re doing things that just “aren’t you”?

Physical Wellness is the ability, motivation and confidence to move effectively and efficiently in a variety of situations, and the healthy growth, development, nutrition and care of the body.

  • What is sugar doing to your body and mind?
  • How can you actually develop self-compassion for your body?

Spiritual wellness is an understanding of one’s own values and beliefs leading to a sense of meaning or purpose and a relationship to the community.

  • What story do you believe about yourself?
  • What is possible in the midst of your difficulty?
  • What lights you up? What inspires you?
  • When did you feel like you were at your best?
  • Why is passion so important for young leaders?
  • How can I learn to trust myself to make decisions from the heart?

Through the 25 days of LIT FROM WITHIN, participants not only learned about the brain science of adolescence, and immersed themselves in a culture of inspiration and strategies to develop confidence in making healthy choices, they also had 5 different mindful meditation experiences as a way to kick-start a life-long practice of cultivating a sense of wellbeing.

Gratitudeworks is committed to developing support and resources for teens, parents, and teachers to develop a culture of wellness in the lives of individuals, within families, and in classrooms.

Book a 15 minute strategy call today to get one step closer to THRIVING in high school!

ConnecTeen 24 hour support for TEENS in Calgary, Alberta

My mission is tomainconnecteencallout connect teens and those who care about them with the resources they need to THRIVE! I recently connected with an amazing, FREE resource here in my home town of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. ConnecTeen offers FREE, confidential 24 hour support through online chat, phone, text, and e-mail to Calgary and the surrounding area. Teens offer peer support between 5pm – 10pm on weekdays and from 12 – 10pm on Saturday and Sunday. Outside of those hours, adult volunteers respond to calls so there is always someone to talk to, 24 hours every day. CLICK HERE to access ConnecTeen

I asked some of the teen volunteers at ConnecTeen to answer some of my questions about this AMAZING resource. Here’s what you’ll learn in this article:

  • Why it’s ok to call ConnecTeen even when we think “It’s not that bad”
  • Why teen-to-teen support is so important
  • What to expect when you call ConnecTeen
  • What is AWESOME about being a teen today

Deanne : What would you like to tell a teen who hesitates calling ConnecTeen because they think “it’s not that bad”

When we talk to teens about our service, we like to emphasize that it’s better to talk about something that’s “not that bad” than to wait or hold it in until it becomes “that bad”. Stress, anger or worry can become a huge burden if we don’t try to cope with it right away. We also encourage youth to open up about their problems no matter how big or small it may be. We will never minimize how someone is feeling because all problems are worth talking about. Our volunteers are eager to help and support everyone that contacts us, no matter the size of their problem. At ConnecTeen, it’s about supporting someone who may feel alone in their problem or if they need to just vent.

Volunteer: Venting whatever you might at feel, whether it is “not that bad” or not, does help! Having someone else to listen to you, anonymously through a chat or not, lets you to sort out how you really feel about what you are going through, and helps you to not only feel better, but organize your thoughts as well.

Volunteer: No problem is ever too small to call. We are here to listen, no matter what the problem is. Sometimes, it’s good to have a 3rd person assess the situation since one cannot see the forest when he/she is inside it. Even if you are feeling down, don’t hesitate to call us.

Deanne : Why do you have teens answering the ConnecTeen line?

CT: ConnecTeen, originally named “Teen Line” was initiated as a peer support line; the first of its kind in Canada in 1983. We believe that no one understands teens better than their peers. As adults, we tend to forget what it’s like to have such little control over your life when you’re a teenager. We also tend to forget how many important milestones and “firsts” occur during this time too. Our youth volunteers have either lived through similar experiences or can truly empathize with our service users because of their age. We also find that teens are more likely to open to someone who is closer to their age. At ConnecTeen, our volunteers don’t have any authority or judgement over our users and I think that creates a safe space to open up and be vulnerable.

Volunteer: I think its because as teenagers ourselves, we can relate better with the feelings that other teenagers might feel at certain times. It is because we are all at such a close range in terms of our age group, we are capable of talking through what we’ve been through in relating with other teenagers.

Volunteer: Teens now face different problems than the teens of the past generations. Although many issues that have existed in the past such as drugs for example still exist today, the rise of social media and the internet has changed the lives of teens completely. Teens are now exposed to different ideas such as ones regarding their sexuality, body images, etc. Other teens, who were actually born and raised with such social media tend to have a better understanding and can relate better to teens going through such issues and struggles.

 

Deanne : What does ConnecTeen offer when teens do make the call?

When teens decide to contact us, we offer non-judgmental support. Our volunteers will never lecture you or make you feel bad for the decisions you’ve made or for what you’ve experienced. We want to connect you to the people in your life that could help or to free resources in the city. Our support is confidential and anonymous so you can share whatever you feel comfortable sharing which gives you a lot of the freedom to decide what you want to talk to about. Our volunteers are highly trained in crisis intervention, so whatever issue you are dealing with, they are prepared to support you and help you through it. Sometimes, you just need someone to listen to you without offering advice or trying to solve your problems. A lot of what we do is listening and giving you some of the tools you may need to work through it.

Volunteer: We mainly offer emotional support, and a place where they can tell us what they feel without pressure. We let the conversation flow according to the pace in which the callers want to pace themselves at, and we validate and normalize with how they are feeling. We also offer resources like counseling, a place to stay, or financial support if it is desired by the callers.

Volunteer: We offer emotional support, validation and empathy for those in crisis. We also offer resources for  those who need professional help / information / advice.

Deanne : What have you learned about teens since working/volunteering at ConnecTeen

I’ve learned that youth face a variety of different issues- many of which I never thought about as an adult. For example, we get a lot of contacts regarding financial issues, abuse in the home or in relationships, wanting to move out on their own and dealing with the fundamental “firsts” (i.e. first break up, first fight with your best friend, first time failing a class etc). I really enjoy working at ConnecTeen because I get to learn many different perspectives from both the volunteers and the users who contact our lines. I’m constantly reminded of how strong and resilient the youth of Calgary are because they are so courageous to reach out for help.

Volunteer: I’ve learned a great deal about communicating with other people, in general. Learning about diverse social issues that our society and our youth have opened my eyes and provided me with a perspective that broke me away from the stigma. I became more unbiased, informed, social and approachable to others, and I also think I became a better person, overall.

Volunteer: A lot of teens at my age are going through really tough times. Teens tend to be shy reaching out at first, but I feel like this service is really helpful for teens in terms of finding them the right resources and providing the emotional support they need. The internet is like a double-edged sword: teens have access to unlimited amounts of information, but they don’t know what services are right and appropriate for them. Also, I feel like a lot of teens are unable to talk about their feelings and situation to other people, especially to those around them because they feel embarrassed or scared. Thus, ConnecTeen provides the anonymous help they need so that they can feel safe while still receiving the support and help they need.

Deanne : What is the best part of being a teen today?

I think the best part of being a teen today is the availability of information and resources teens can access. When I was growing up, I had no idea what was out there for support. Now, everything is available with the click of a button or a short phone call. I love that ConnecTeen offers text and online chat too, I think it really helps youth connect to us in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

Volunteer: We have vast amount of resources that we can access whenever we want to, wherever we want to (like connecteen). Also, the best part of being a teenager is that we have a great deal of potential in how we can still shape ourselves. We are still learning and growing, faster than ever before. To have that opportunity, I believe is the best part of being a teenager in our world.

Volunteer: We have so many opportunities to build our future. From academics, sports, volunteering, jobs.. there are limitless opportunities that given the effort, we can achieve our dreams.

Deep appreciation goes to Vanessa DeSouza and her team for taking the time to respond to my questions. ConnecTeen also offers FREE resources for schools, so please connect with ConnecTeen!

Online calgaryconnecteen.com

Twitter at twitter.com/YYCConnecTeen

Facebook at www.facebook.com/calgaryconnecteen

Instagram at www.instagram.com/yycconnecteen/

YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/DistressCentreYYC?feature=watch