teen-therapy

Coping with College Stress & Pressure: How to Encourage & Care For Yourself

High school can be stressful enough. Starting in your junior year, you begin performing quite the juggling act. On one hand, you have to take and ace the “right” courses and college placement tests. And don’t forget the extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, peer pressure is at its peak. You want to fit in, go on dates, play sports, and have teenage fun.

Just as all of that (and more) begins to wrap up, you have to start preparing for college. Toss in Covid, lockdowns, and all related factors, and the difficulty level increases even more. Through it all, however, you can cope and thrive.

What Causes College Stress & Pressure?

Big Transitions

For many students, college means moving away from your home. This is exciting in many ways. It’s daunting in many others. Pitfalls to watch for include:

  • Loneliness
  • Far more responsibility and accountability
  • New environment, new friends, new schedule
  • Time management

Finances

College is expensive. There’s the tuition, of course. But you also have to balance spending for books, meals, and daily expenditures.

Social Life

Your social circle has expanded — big time. Suddenly, you’re living with at least one stranger. You want to make new and trustworthy friends. You also probably want to date.

Academic Life

The odds are your college classes will be more challenging than anything you’ve previously faced. That all-important GPA looms large and the pressure can grow. By year two, you’ll already be expected to conjure up practical post-graduation plans.

It should not be too difficult to grasp how all of the above can impact your mental and physical health. Therefore, the goal to aim for is balance. College is college and there will be some factors you just have to navigate. That said, this process runs a whole lot smoother when you take steps to encourage and care for yourself.

6 Ways to Encourage & Care For Yourself in College

1. Guard Your Sleep

Nothing can short-circuit college success like lack of sleep. It may not be the “coolest” choice but find ways to create regular patterns.

2. Make Healthy Eating Choices

The body cannot live on pizza and ramen alone. Consider cooking for yourself. Get tips from nutrition experts. Don’t hesitate to get advice from good ol’ Mom.

3. Engage in Daily Exercise and Physical Activity

Slouched over at your desk in front of a computer is a recipe for disaster. Make time to exercise, play sports, take walks, etc.

4. Practice Stress Management

Stress is inevitable. Being overwhelmed by stress is not. Look into relaxation techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, music, mantras, affirmations, and more.

5. Get Organized

Guess what? Once you graduate, you will continue to need structure in your life. Start now. You can use apps to help keep you on schedule.

6. Schedule Some FUN Social Time

All work is not the answer. Consciously schedule fun plans. This isn’t an invitation to ignore your responsibilities. Rather, once again, it’s all about balance. Reward yourself for putting in the effort. Make time to laugh, play, dance, and flirt.

Reach Out to Your Resources

Every college will have official resources for any student who feels overmatched. There is no shame or stigma in using them. Ask for help. You will learn valuable skills that will guide you for the rest of your life. When “overwhelmed” becomes your default setting, counseling may be required.

Talking to an experienced mental health professional is a powerful step toward de-stressing. College requires new perspectives and approaches. Your weekly therapy sessions can help you discover these tools. If you feel unable to find balance, reach out today to set up a free and confidential consultation.

Parenting Differences and Conflicts

Viewpoints about the right way to parent our children often have so much baggage that, if the baggage was physical, we’d need a truck to haul it around.

Your views about the right way to parent are influenced by the way you were raised, because you’re often trying to either replicate or run away from what was normal in your own childhood. That’s why raising children can bring up strong emotions and desires you forgot long ago.

It can feel personally threatening to have your parenting methods challenged.

When you are parenting with a partner or a co-parent, your strong feelings and preferences are multiplied by the number of people inhabiting a parent role in your child’s life. Those feelings can interfere with your ability to work together. You may find it difficult to understand why your partner feels the way they do, or why what makes sense to your co-parent makes zero sense to you. Not to mention that it’s sometimes hard for you to fully comprehend why you have the feelings, reactions, and values you have in your own parenting!

Shouldn’t you be able to parent the way you think is best?

Of course! However, (and you knew this was coming) you are not your child’s only parent. All parents in a kids’ life have the right to raise that child. That means it’s important to work through parenting differences and find some common ground. If you aren’t able to resolve or reconcile these differences, it can create relationship conflicts between parents and in the parent-child dynamic that ultimately can harm your child. As an involved and caring parent, that is obviously the very last thing you want.

Are there ways to resolve parenting difference, avoid parenting conflicts, and work harmoniously for the benefit of our child?

Yes, there are, and you won’t have to compromise your deeply held values to achieve that goal. As a parent, you want what is best for your child. Your desire to parent your child in your own way is because you believe your child will end up healthier and happier as a result. That’s the primary reason you feel so attached to parenting in your preferred way.

The trick is, your child’s other parent(s) feel exactly the same way!

Being able to see and understand the other’s perspective, and having your perspective understood in turn, is the key to finding workable solutions to the parenting differences in your unique family situation.

You are totally capable of raising your child well.

Developing good communication skills so that disagreements do not devolve into tension and discord is an important aspect of great parenting skills.

We know parents are doing the best they can with the information and experience they have. We also recognize that most parents don’t have the time to keep up with all the various research and parenting literature that could help them enhance their parenting skills and resolve their parenting differences. Not to mention that communication skills in adult relationships are already challenging in general!

When you work with an Affinity therapist, we become a part of your parenting team.

We can help point you to information about how certain parenting styles lead to certain outcomes. We can help you understand and practice different communication techniques that allow multiple perspectives to be heard and respected so that you can work through parenting conflicts.

We’re not saying you have to do what the research indicates is best. You are right there, in the midst of the situation, which is the best place to make the final decision. When you feel like that final decision is well-informed and respects all the voices in the room, you will feel more empowered and confident in your parenting decisions. Your relationship with your partner or co-parent will be strengthened. And, as a bonus, you will be modeling excellent conflict resolution skills for your child as well!

Unresolved parenting conflicts and tension in the home aren’t good for you or your child, especially when they’re about how you’re going to parent that child. Children need firm yet flexible boundaries so that they can experiment, push against limits, and continue to be safe and loved as they figure out their place in their family and the world.

If you’d like to get started with one of us as part of your parenting team, schedule with us or contact us today to get started.

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Many people struggle with eating disorders. In fact, even people who don’t have a full-blown eating disorder often have challenges with food.

We live in a society that really challenges us when it comes to body image and eating. You may feel like you’re only worthy of love and success if you look a certain way. Even if you come to some acceptance of your body, you may struggle to figure out what’s right for you to eat.

Moreover, you might feel like you’re the only one who faces this challenge. Especially in the age of social media, it can easily look like everyone else is getting life right. You might feel totally alone, however eating disorders are unfortunately very common. You very much are not alone. You can get help. More importantly, you deserve to feel comfortable in your own body!

What is an Eating Disorder?

If you have an eating disorder, then you experience some kind of persistent challenge when it comes to food. Perhaps you eat too much or too little, but it’s less about the quantity of your consumption and more about your emotions and behaviors around eating. If you’re constantly thinking about, worrying about, and obsessing over your food or your weight, then you might be dealing with an eating disorder.

There are different types of eating disorders. If you struggle with anorexia nervosa, then you’re probably terrified of getting fat. You severely restrict your food intake, probably counting calories, and consistently try to eat less and less. No matter how much weight you lose, you feel like you’re still too fat. People tell you that you’re too skinny, but you still feel like you’re not skinny enough. You’re frightened that if you stop being so vigilant about what you eat then you’ll immediately gain weight.

People with anorexia usually end up becoming very thin. In contrast, if you have bulimia nervosa, then you might be thin, but you might also be average weight or overweight. You might go through periods of restricting what you eat but then binge and eat a lot of food all at once. Then you feel bad about eating, so you purge. If you eat a lot of high-fat, high-sugar, carb-rich food all in one sitting, especially if you eat it really quickly and barely even notice how it tastes, then you might be living with bulimia.

However, there are other types of eating disorders besides these common two. For example, binge eating is similar to bulimia but without the food restriction or purging. On the opposite end is purging disorder, which is like bulimia without the binge eating. There is also orthorexia which is an obsession with trying to eat healthy, where the focus is on types of food not necessarily calories or weight control.

In other words, there are many different types of eating disorders. You don’t have to fit in a specific box. If you struggle with food, then you face a daily challenge. You deserve to be free of the pain of that challenge.

The Dangers of Eating Disorders

At a minimum, eating disorders make each day a little bit harder. When you spend your time, energy, and mental focus consumed with your food, you don’t have as much of it for other things. You can’t enjoy the wonderful things in life because you’re preoccupied with what is going into your mouth. You have so much to offer the world, but you don’t get to express those great traits, because you can’t stop thinking about your food. You deserve better than that.

Additionally, eating disorders can lead to a wide range of other issues. Your entire body can suffer. If you don’t eat enough, your body can actually start to eat its own tissue in an attempt to survive. You might think it’s great that you’re getting skinnier, but your body isn’t just eating away at its own fat. It’s also eating away at your heart and other organs. This can lead to pain and discomfort at the very least and suffering and death if it continues.

Plus, your brain needs healthy eating to thrive. Eating too much or too little can drastically affect your brain function. As a result, you might not be able to concentrate or perform your best. You are so important and valuable in this world. Therefore, you shouldn’t let an eating disorder cut short your life and potential.

Therapy to Help with an Eating Disorder

We understand that eating disorders develop for a reason. We want to help you figure out the reason that this has affected your life. We don’t have any judgments or preconceived notions about what food you should eat or what amount you should weigh. Instead, we simply believe that you deserve to have the best quality of life possible, and we want to help you work through your eating disorder so that you can have that great life.

You might discover that trying to get past eating disorders brings up all sorts of thoughts and emotions. It can feel very overwhelming. However, you have the strength within you to work through whatever comes up. We can provide you with support and resources so that you can develop your own insight to allow you to manage whatever life might throw your way.

If you are interested in learning more about therapy for eating disorders, then reach out to us for help today.

Teenagers with Social and Emotional Struggles

Adolescence is a wonderful, terrifying time of life, where situations and feelings can change in an instant. Likewise, parenting is a fulfilling, amazing experience, at the same time that it is overwhelming and unpredictable. As teenagers struggle to handle the ever-increasing social and emotional pressures in life, they often act out. Parents then become overwhelmed and frustrated, wanting to help but unsure how. Therapy can provide critical support to help young people work through those issues.

Is Your Teen Struggling?

As a parent, you probably know if your teen is struggling. However, it can be really hard to know whether what your child is going through is “normal” or if they need extra help and support.

All teens go through a process of development and change that can wreak some havoc in a family. It’s their job to start figuring out who they are separate from parents. As a result, they may act out in different ways. As a parent, you may wonder if they’re going through regular growing pains, passing through a phase, or if they need additional help.

In your gut, you probably know the answer. You can see if your teen is struggling with social and emotional issues. But it’s okay if you’re not sure. Therapy for teens can help children and adolescents coping with a wide range of issues including those that are just a regular part of growing up.

Therapy Options for Teens

Teen therapy can help your child and your family get through the tough times and on to a better place. You may explore family therapy as one option. Or you may find that your teen would best benefit from their own individual therapeutic work.

One of the things teens need most at this age is a safe, non-judgmental space where they can express themselves completely and receive only respect and support. Teens simply don’t have that in most areas of their lives. They feel that they must present a certain image with peers. They have a confusing power dynamic with teachers and other authority figures.

As a parent, you may try your best to provide this for your child but the very nature of your changing relationship as they age complicates things. Their “job” as they grow is to separate from you. Yet, they still need you. This is confusing. A therapist provides that safe space for your teenager to understand and recognize this.

Growing Up is Hard. We Can Help.

Adolescents really do have a lot on their plates these days. Teen social anxiety is at an all-time high. Teens struggle to fit in with their peers. At the same time, they’re trying to figure out their own identities. They may be struggling to come to terms with issues related to education, religion, gender identity, sexuality, and more.

Teenagers over the generations have all dealt with these issues. They’re all heightened today, though, because of the internet and social media. Cyberbullying is one aspect of that. Teens feel pressure to engage in constant image management. They are faced with persistent pinging of alerts letting them know if their peers “like” them. It’s a lot to manage. It exacerbates the regular stress of growing up to a degree that no previous generation has faced.

We want to help. We can provide your teen with that safe, quiet, respectful space to learn about themselves, express their confusion, and find solutions. Contact us today to get them started.

Gifted and Talented Individuals

If you tell someone who isn’t gifted or talented that being gifted isn’t always a gift, they probably won’t believe you.

You were born into a world that hasn’t figured out the best way to nurture gifted and talented individuals. As a child, you may have seemed so self-sufficient that your parents mistook your advanced talents for evidence that you were ready for adult responsibilities in every area of your life. Maybe they hung their hopes and dreams on you, sensing how capable or special you were from a young age.

Being a Gifted and Talented Child, then a Gifted and Talented Adult

There are many benefits to being a gifted and talented child, but the challenges are often overlooked or taken for granted by others. Whether it was a world that didn’t know how to support you, a mental health issue like autism or depression, or something else altogether, life was certainly not always easy for you.

As a gifted adult, the pressure and disconnect with your family and peers can continue. The world doesn’t always understand that a gifted person can suffer from the same difficulties as others.

Low self-esteem, depression, difficulty making or keeping friends are all issues that can transfer from childhood to adulthood. Yet people may be more likely to wonder why someone who has so many gifts can struggle like that. Their reaction may make you worry whether something is wrong with you.

Nothing is wrong with you. Your feelings and struggles are valid.

Learning to Put Less Pressure on Yourself

There are ways to make things easier on yourself, but they aren’t intuitive. If you find yourself spending all your time on your career because it’s easier than other areas of your life, or if the feeling of responsibility to share your gifts makes it difficult for you to relax, know that there are other options available to you.

Putting pressure on yourself because you’re not thriving in every area of your life just makes things worse. Being brilliant in one area doesn’t mean you will be brilliant in every area of your life. Everyone is better at some things than others. It is just more obvious with someone who is gifted or talented because the juxtaposition between their gifts and less developed areas is more obvious. It’s easy to expect more than anyone else does of yourself, but it is counterproductive. It creates unnecessary stress that can hold you back in the areas where your talents would otherwise shine. It can also create undeserved feelings of inadequacy that end up making you feel even more isolated. The pressure to be good at everything is suffocating.

Therapy Helps You Fully Accept Yourself

How do you live your best possible life in a world that doesn’t have the insight necessary to understand and accept your extraordinary range? That you are normal in some areas, exceptional in others, and maybe even downright awful in still other areas. How do you convince them without allowing it to reflect on their perception of the contributions you make with your gifts?

By showing them the way. Other people take their cues from us. Learning to fully accept yourself, to embrace every aspect of yourself, helps others see you as a perfectly imperfect human, just like everyone else. Beginning with yourself, you can develop the nurturing environment you need to flourish in more areas of your life.

A therapist who knows not to expect perfection just because you are gifted and talented will help you to see and appreciate your range of abilities. They can help you to reconcile your teen or child’s gifts and talents with not being perfect in every area of your life. If you’re ready, we’re here to help. Reach out by email, text, or schedule an appointment online.