Does your teen feel lonely or disconnected?
Loneliness was a theme in many of the sessions and groups at our teen support center this week. Often times I'll hear that teens would rather be with others who treat them poorly than to be alone. This kind of thinking leads to hurt feelings and compromising self-respect.
Along with working on ways to improve self-esteem and get to the root of low self-worth, there are ways to EMPOWER your teen to take action and create connections when they are feeling lonely.
Here's a list to get your started in supporting your teen:
+ Call or text someone you care about and ask them how they are doing. (When you take the focus off of YOU and take interest in someone else it helps you to feel more connected.)
+ Pick three friends and create something for them like a poem, picture or card.Contributing is a DBT skill that has been PROVEN in groups to improve overall mood and wellbeing.
+ Get off social media sites. Comparisonitis and seeing that other friends are together can only make feelings of loneliness worse. Take a break from the phone and throw yourself into another activity.
+ Volunteer. Find a way to help a friend, sibling or parent. Their appreciation and your sense of accomplishment are both ways to start to feel good when loneliness strikes.
+ Cry. It's ok to cry. Crying gets the sad out!
+ Exercise. Take a walk. Go to the gym. Do some stretching. Not only is it healthy, but you're surrounding yourself with other healthy people too!
+ Spend time with a pet. Furry friends are great listeners and snuggle close when you need to feel connected.
+ Join a club. When you have a specific interest, it helps to surround yourself with other people who have the same interests to give you more opportunities to connect. If you don't know what your interests are, try a few and see what you like and don't like. You'll never know until you get out there!
+ Watch a TV show or movie with characters that you know well. This can help you feel more connected in the moment.
+ Join a group! Creative Healing has groups for different ages, interests and activities.
When you can recognize the signs of loneliness and make a choice in how to respond, it helps you to feel more connected.
Help your teen identify times when they feel the most lonely. (For many teens this is late at night.) When you can work with them to map out a plan for what to DO in those moments, it can make the feelings more tolerable, as well as promote healthy coping skills and interactions.