5 Things Parents Need to Know About Back to School & Mental Health
Mental health and substance use issues are just some of the topics that cause parents concern as the school year begins. Here’s how to help.
This is the 13th — and final — post in our weekly fall School Stress series, a back-to-school toolkit for parents on how to best navigate their teen’s stress and anxiety — explored in our documentary BREAKING POINTS.
Just as mindfulness practices help people stay calm, gratitude practices create an opportunity to focus on what we have to be thankful for.
Taking time to appreciate the goodness in our lives, helps us feel more positive emotions, rather than negative feelings like stress, anxiety and depression. In fact, research shows it actually helps develop neural pathways that make us happier and more optimistic.
Research conducted by Greater Good Research Center (GGRC) at University of California, Berkeley, shows the benefits of a grateful mindset are profoundly social. The research finds that grateful people have stronger relationships, are less materialistic, and are more generous. Grateful adolescents have more positive attitudes toward their families and schools, and are more motivated to contribute to society.
According to GGRC, gratitude frees people from getting bogged down by anger and ruminating on all that has gone wrong and helps us recognize the forces and people who have actually helped to bring more good into our lives. That can boost our feelings of self-worth and motivate us to believe that more change and goodness is actually possible.
Thinking of others offers a fresh perspective and can help teens get out of their head, helping to alleviate stress and worry in their lives and make them feel more at ease.
So teach your teens to count their blessings – it will provide a deep emotional connection to others, lessen the burden of stress overload that they’re experiencing and help them feel more optimistic and happier.
Here are four gratitude practices from mindfulness expert Cheryl Vigder Brause, just in time for Thanksgiving. Try doing them together with your teen. (You may get some eye rolling at first, but keep trying):
We are grateful to Cheryl Vigder Brause, writer, speaker and the co-founder and executive director of 2bpresent, for sharing her insights and expertise with us. We also thank Greater Good Science Center for their research and gratitude exercises.
Host a screening of BREAKING POINTS, a documentary film that takes on the issue of study drugs and how they intersect with school stress. The package includes a Screening Guide with discussion questions and other bonus materials.