TEENS: During these times of increased social isolation that we all live in due to the pandemic, teens are more susceptible than ever to becoming depressed. This depression can range from mild psychological discomfort to more serious forms of chronic depression. Many teens and young people have recently voiced their concerns on this topic. What can start out as a "blah" feeling can exacerbate and grow into a bad case of the blues. Here's typical letter that encapsulates what many teens are going through these days:
DR WALLACE: Lately, I've been having the blues. I'm not deeply depressed, but I have been finding myself in the dumps lately, and I don't know how to think positively about things. All of this started a month ago when my boyfriend ended our relationship. I feel terrible about our split, and I despise feeling bad about my situation. To make matters worse, we are now socially isolated, and replacing my boyfriend by starting a new friendship/relationship seems unrealistic. Any help you can provide me will be deeply appreciated. I'm 17, and I get good grades. I'm not into drugs or alcohol. I also have wonderful parents, but I still have this sinking, "blah" feeling that keeps me feeling negative about my future. — Not My Usual Self, via email
NOT MY USUAL SELF: I've received many letters with different definitions and explanations of this "blah" feeling, including feeling dreary and lonely, not wanting to get out of bed, worrying about the future, and feeling helpless and hopeless. Give these 10 tips a try. Several years ago, a teen girl who eventually changed her life for the better sent me this list, for which our readers and I are extremely grateful. Read through them, and give some of them a try. You have nothing to lose — except perhaps that feeling you wish to shake off.
No. 1: List your good points. Start out by making a list of all your best qualities. Think only of your positive traits and special talents. Also include any accomplishments that you've made in your lifetime that make you feel proud of.
No. 2: Work out! Ever hear of a "runners' high"? It's that euphoric feeling runners experience after pushing themselves to the limit. Hormones called beta-endorphins that your body produces bring on this feeling of intense well-being. Any form of exercise that works your heart and lungs will release beta-endorphins.
No. 3: Talk things out. Sometimes, the best way to deal with a bad mood is to have a heart-to-heart talk with a trusted, understanding friend.
No. 4: Grin and bear it! Feel like frowning? Force yourself to smile instead. Studies show that facial expressions can create moods! So, choose a positive one whenever and wherever you can.
No. 5: Reminisce about happy times. When you're feeling depressed, it's important to remind yourself that your bad mood isn't permanent. Life is like a book, full of happy and sad chapters. If you're in a sad one, get out your photo album of some of your favorite times in the past, and relive them!
No. 6: Surround yourself with positive people. Recharge your batteries by forcing yourself to socialize with happy friends. Even if you must do this for a while via text, telephone and even videoconferencing, you'll still gain enormous benefits from connecting with positive people who can help elevate your mood and perspective on life. Good moods are contagious!
No. 7: Get out of your rut. Sometimes, a bummed-out mood is just a sign of sheer boredom. Get involved in a new hobby or project! Whether it's playing the guitar or taking up photography, you'll enjoy the challenge of trying something new, and you can seek out new people or existing friends and family who may know about that particular hobby.
No. 8: Focus on the positive. Thinking happy thoughts nips the blues in the bud. Pepper your thoughts with as much positive pep talk as you can muster, such as, "Today, I'll stay positive and control my mood," or, "I'm now one day closer to feeling a lot better about many things."
No. 9: Count your blessings. When you focus on all the things you have going for you, you may feel lucky — not to mention happy that you've been so fortunate in your life up to this point!
No. 10: Help someone else. Turn the spotlight off yourself, and try to forget about your own troubles. Instead, focus on helping someone else, especially someone that your personality and skills can benefit. Your spirits will quickly lift when you begin to do something nice, worthwhile or kind for others. There are many people who have special needs and challenges during this pandemic. Seek out volunteer opportunities to help others; in doing so, you will be helping yourself at the same time.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay