This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Psychological First Aid for Homeschool High Schoolers. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
Psychological First Aid in Homeschool High School
The process of adolescence can be a challenge for teens: hormones, metacognition and challenging questions, figuring out friendships. Just like we need bandages and antibiotic in the medicine cabinet, it is good to have some first aid tools for the broken hearts and stressors of teen mental health.
In fact, this kind of first aid can (and should, perhaps) be practiced daily! Kym is teaching Psychology at our local homeschool umbrella school’s group classes this year. This topic comes up and the teens are finding it helpful, so we thought we would share it today.
Here are some tips on daily psychological first aid for homeschool high schoolers!
Psychological First Aid #1: Self-care
God made us whole beings: spirit, soul and body. Sometimes when we feel stressed or down, it can help just to do more basic physical care:
- Our brain cells are mostly water. Water is the transport mechanism within the cell. Our nerve cells make our neurotransmitters that run all our body’s thinking and doing. They need the water to move the neurotransmitter production through the brain cell. So if teens are low on water, their nerve cells can’t do their work efficiently.
- Fruits and vegetables
- Our neurotransmitters are in part made from the micronutrients in our food. So, if we want our neurotransmitter production to really work, we need those building blocks. Take, for instance, one of the necessary “switches” along the neurotransmitter process is made from folic acid. Or, for instance, the healthy bacteria in our gut give off by-products that travel up to the brain and give the signal to the brain to feel better. When we eat good probiotics (as in yogurt or kimchi) it helps us feel better!
- When teens move their muscles, their nerves create dopamine. That’s a neurotransmitter that helps with mood and focus. (Have teens experiment with doing a little exercise before they have to concentrate on a tough school lesson.)
- Good sleep
- Whether teens like it or not, they need sleep (so do we moms)! Our brain cells bathe in spinal fluid while we sleep to keep our brain healthy and focused
- Oxygen helps cut the stress hormones in our bodies. Deep breathing can help get rid of stress. Download this freebie from Vicki Tillman Coaching on a deep breathing exercise called Progressive Relaxation.
Idea: Invite teens to keep a log for a week on these basic self-care items. Have them daily record how they are feeling emotionally and physically each day also.
Also: Make sure teens have a good Health curriculum. 7Sisters’ Health curriculum looks at the whole person, including psychological health.
Psychological First Aid #2: Variety
Too much same, same, same creates anxiety. Too much screen time causes anxiety. Try thes:
- Every twenty minutes, look at something twenty feet away for twenty seconds. This gives eyes a break and a bit of variety for the brain.
- Look at something green.
- Plants and trees have some anxiety reducing hormones, but just looking at a tree helps the body calm itself. (Have you heard that Japanese and Korean cultures sometimes practice “tree bathing”? They take meditative walks where there are trees. The pheromones from the trees and the trees’ beauty help keep the walkers feeling healthier.)
- A merry heart does good like a medicine. When we laugh, our bodies create endorphins which help us feel better emotionally and help build our immune system. Ask your teen to make sure they are having a good daily laugh!
- Social contact
- Family is important but teens also need other human beings. In person is nice but digital (if safe) is okay. Being with other humans is necessary for anxiety management.
Psychological First Aid #3: Podcast episodes and posts
Check out these episodes with more ideas for staying healthy psychologically:
- Helping Teens Manage Stress, Interview with Marianna Chambers
- Good and Bad Tech for Teens, Interview with Leah Nieman
- Physical and Mental Health (Vintage Homeschool Moms Podcast)
- Teaching Poetry for Health and Healing
Join Kym and Vicki for a practical discussion of psychological first aid for teens.
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