by Hannah Adamson
Heart health. I’m not talking about eating healthy and exercising. I’m talking about the metaphorical heart—the fount of our emotions, the spirit of who we are. As teens we are trying to figure out life, what we stand for and how to express our emotions.
At school I’ve been taught how to add and subtract, read and write, and understand the histories of nations. Now as a senior in high school, I have even learned how to find derivatives and apply them. As someone who finds math challenging, know that it is quite a statement when I say that emotions are infinitely more complex. However, we are not given as much education on how to manage our emotions in a healthy way and maintain a positive perspective.
A few of my thoughts and suggestions when it comes to emotions:
- A happy-go-lucky teen may not be as happy as you think. Sometimes it is easier to hide emotions than to try to explain them. Parents, take the time to ask your teen how they are really feeling. Teens, do the same with your friends. It is often easier to talk about emotions when asked a direct question.
- If you are having trouble understanding your emotions, talk to someone and maybe even keep a journal of how you feel throughout the day. By reflecting on the many emotions you experience and discussing them with a trusted friend or adult, you may be able to better comprehend why you feel the way you do.
- Take the time to experience and deal with your emotions as opposed to brushing them off or compartmentalizing them.
- Emotions are abstract, which means they can be hard to put into words. When talking with others about their emotions, be open-minded and non-judgmental. What may seem like an insignificant problem to you could feel like a crisis to the person that is dealing with it. It is easier to make sense of a problem when you are on the outside than when you are completely immersed in it. Be patient when listening to others’ issues and recognize that it likely took a lot of courage for them to confide in you.
- When helping someone with their emotional stress, be respectful and supportive. Sometimes just listening is all they need.
- I know you have likely read this on a poster or heard this from an adult: if you are concerned for someone’s safety, seek help from a trusted adult immediately. I completely understand the importance of trust and confidentiality; however, it is more important to protect the well-being of the person that needs immediate help. Even though it may cause friction in the short term, they will hopefully realize how getting professional help was what they really needed.
- A common problem that teens have is the overwhelming need for validation. Social media has allowed us to connect with others instantaneously and constantly. While this has many benefits, it can also exacerbate the need for others’ approval. Many teens will ask each other for “likes” on social media and may align their worth with the number of likes. While this may not make sense to adults, it has become an automatic way of thinking for many teens. It is important to remember that digital approval is not indicative of how wonderful you truly are.
Emotional health is essential to our well-being. It is natural to feel down sometimes; that’s okay. Remember that it is important to reach out for help when you need it. Everyone struggles at one point or another, and knowing when to ask for help is a strength, not a weakness. With all this in mind, remember to be cognizant of your heart health—embrace life’s happy moments.
Hannah Adamson is a senior in high school. She practices meditation and takes ThetaHealing courses with Reshma Shah in Westfield, New Jersey. February 2019