New Year, Fresh Start: 5 Mental Health Resolutions for Your Teen

With a new year inevitably comes a new set of resolutions. Our resolutions are often aimed at bettering our bodies, supplementing our social lives or lining our pockets. Lists of the top New Year’s resolutions every year include losing weight, traveling more often, drinking and smoking less, and saving more money. But what about our mental well-being?

We all deserve to give ourselves a break from feelings of shame, guilt, loneliness or despair that may be holding us back, and teens especially can benefit from the power of a fresh start. This New Year, help your teen embrace the improvement of their mental health so they can have the best 2016 possible.

Resolution 1: Battle Negative Thinking

Negativity can increase the contrast in any sunny situation, and those dark spots can certainly become overwhelming. The first and most effective step for combatting negative thinking is recognition. By reflecting on the things that give us a dour outlook, we intuitively begin to understand the necessary steps for progress. Recovery becomes second nature by recognition, but in order to battle our demons, we must first name them.

When positivity cannot win out, rationality can help. Help your teen to grasp on to the simple, positive truths in life, and negativity will be a thing of the past. Charles Dickens said it best when he wrote, “There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.”

Resolution 2: Remember, No One’s Perfect

We all make mistakes, but that’s the only way we grow. Whenever your teen is feeling down and tempted to beat themselves up for barely failing their driver’s ed test or missing the shot at their basketball game, remind them that success is relative and that perseverance counts for so much more than numbers can relay.

Michael Jordan, one of the best athletes to play professional basketball said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

According to the Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, difficulties with self-forgiveness have in cases been linked to suicide attempts, eating disorders, alcohol abuse and other serious issues. Being able to forgive oneself and move forward is not only the hallmark of a mentally healthy teenager, but a successful individual as well.

Resolution 3: Love Yourself First

Expressing gratitude is a healthy way to remember the things we have to be thankful for. Mentally cataloguing positive interactions not only makes us more generous individuals, but permeates less malleable minds (like those of teenagers), and aids in spreading the idea of self-forgiveness.

During adolescence it can be difficult for young people to remember that they deserve love as much as anyone else. Teens will often make fun of those who look or act different than the rest, but it is our individuality that makes the world a beautiful place. Show your teen that our world isn’t painted simply black and white, but illustrated by individual and vibrant colors.

Helping your teen to understand and embrace their individuality will allow you to become more involved and engaged. If you understand their passion, you will understand what makes them tick. If their heart pumps for music, pick up a six-string and strum along to the beat.

Resolution 4: Build Your Confidence

Teach your teen to use their voice when feeling down-trodden, and listen to their input. When it comes to discipline, we are often harder on ourselves than anyone else has the potential to be. Teens are no exception to this rule, and in fact, suffer more from self-degradation. It is our job to keep them on their feet. Further than that, we must encourage them.

Researchers and parents agree, one of the best ways to accomplish successful encouragement is through repetition. Teens are sometimes known for their comically unfortunate short-term memory. Repeatedly reminding them of your love and support can make all the difference in their day-to-day lives.

Resolution 5: Enjoy the Journey

Setting mental health resolutions and yearly goals are an important way for teens to identify where their priorities lie this coming New Year, and to plan out the steps they need to take to accomplish those tasks.

It is important to remind teens, however, that breaking these resolutions is ok. We must instill the idea that as humans, we are bound to fall from time to time, but learning to be resilient will never cease to pay out in the long run.

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” -Robert Muller

Resolutions for the future define our mission here at Pacific Quest. As this year comes to a close, if you notice your teen’s resolve slipping, consider learning more about Pacific Quest, and the incredible programs we have to offer.
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