5 Mindful Back-to-School Tips for Teens

High school can be a psychological battle field. Social challenges, getting involved in serious relationships for the first time, the pressure to succeed in school and in sports, the in­creasing amount of extra-curricular activities young adults are expected to undertake all add up and can lead to stress, self-doubt, interpersonal conflict, intense mood swings, and the feeling of being overwhelmed and even lost. Here are 5 tactics anyone can learn that will not only help survive high school but succeed in life.

1. Follow your breath.

When our minds are racing from thought to thought, commitment to commitment, fear to fear, they signal our bodies to become tense. Focusing on stressful thoughts, or just on too many thoughts at once, can keep our anxiety level high. Switching your thoughts on something simple and peaceful will have the opposite effect, and your breath is an ideal point of focus. Concentrating on your breath is a simple way to bring yourself out of an anx­ious state and back to peace.

2. Develop a positive self-image.

It doesn’t matter what you have done or not done, said or not said, thought or not thought. Today, right now, you have positive qualities. Discovering them, acknowledging them, and embracing them are steps toward healthy self-esteem. Think about your positive attributes. Are you:

  • A good listener

  • Kind to animals

  • Hardworking

  • Loving

  • Responsible

  • Talented at a hobby

  • Loyal

  • Sincere

  • Patient

3. Be assertive.

Asserting yourself is a healthy way of living your life. Remembering that you have to increase your awareness of some­thing before you can change it, start by using your mindfulness skills to help you notice when you’re not being assertive. For example, you might notice when you’re starting to feel an uncomfortable emotion. Tuning in to this, you may find you’re starting to feel resentful because you’re not speaking up about your preference in a situation. Remind yourself every day that you have the right to express your emotions, opinions, and beliefs—and of course, others have the right to disagree! Don't worry if you're not a master right away. Being assertive gets easier with time.

4. See the positive.

Have you ever noticed that when you feel down, angry, or anxious, all you can think about are the negative things in your life? Often, when there is something positive, you are able to find a way to minimize it so that it still feeds into your negative outlook. When you have a quiet moment in your day (right before you fall asleep is a good time, or while in the shower), think about at least three good things that happened in the last 24 hours. Appreciate them. Remember that tomorrow is a new day, full of new possibilities.

5. Live your values.

Living your values means listening to what’s important to you and choos­ing to act accordingly. It means saying, “I stand for this,” “I care about this,” or “I want to be about doing this.” It can take some detective work to figure out what really matters to you and some courage to put your values into action, but it’s worth the effort.

High school can be tough. Want more survival skills? Get your FREE in-depth guide with activities here.

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