7 Hacks to Help Your Teen Jumpstart Their Day

Guess blog by Cloe Matheson

Getting teenagers up and going in the morning is a little like rousing the dead. But it’s not all their fault: there’s a scientific reason why adolescence goes hand-in-hand with an aversion to mornings. Pubertal hormones can seriously mess up the body clock – so don’t begrudge your teenage son or daughter too much for their morning laziness!


Since even science can’t get schools to delay their bells an hour or two, though, it’s necessary to have some tricks up your sleeve for helping your teen kickstart their day. Give the following hacks a try, and you’ll have made a morning person of your young ‘un in no time.

1. Have some music or a podcast at hand

Teens love music and other forms of digital media – and if they know that their parents are cool enough to be on board with the things that they like, they’ll be all the keener to jump out of bed. Get a speaker for the kitchen so that your kids can plug in their devices and sing along during breakfast, or put on an interesting podcast in the car as a before-school tradition. You might even buy your teen an alarm clock which wakes them up with some catchy tunes rather than a blearing “beep” noise.


2. Get them moving 

No teen is going to respond positively to the idea of running a lap as soon as they open their eyes, but a little bit of parental encouragement towards implementing a little physical activity into their morning routine is never a bad idea. Chances are that your teen – like the rest of us – dreads the thought of exercise, but finds the act of it incredibly refreshing and worthwhile. Getting active in the morning, in particular, has unbeatable benefits for our bodies and minds. Whether they join a sports group that holds practice in the mornings, or they tag along with you as you go to yoga or spinning class, getting teens moving early is a sure-fire way to set them up well for the day to come.


3. Look for fun, digital learning material

Like just about any other person who owns a smartphone, many teenagers can spend hours browsing social media and news feeds such as Reddit and Facebook. As well as being entertaining, however, YouTube and similar platforms also contain gargantuan amounts of educational content. If you find your teen absent-mindedly playing with their phone during breakfast time, encourage them to check out a short video from a channel such as Vsauce or MinuteEarth for some bite-sized knowledge to chew on during the walk or ride to school.


4. Urge them to get some rays 

The kind of naturally-sourced Vitamin D that comes from sunshine is important for all kinds of reasons: at the most basic level, though, it just makes us happy, for some instinctive reason that no amount of research can account for. For teens who feel as if they’re interred in dim classrooms all day, getting even twenty minutes of time outside on a sunny day can enhance their mood significantly. Go out and join them, if there’s no objection, and you can bathe in the golden warmth together.


5. Institute a night-before-school routine

For teenagers, the morning can often seem like a couple of hours’ worth of boring chores, preceding a whole day’s worth of boring classes. What you need to help your teen realize is that the morning and evening are the times they have off – and what’ll make this ring true is removing as many of the perceived “chores” as possible from the morning agenda.If your teen has a uniform, for example, they might lay it out and do any cleaning the night before, so that getting changed in the morning is easy. They might prep their breakfast the night before, too (overnight oats are a favorite in many households). Ticking off these tasks the night before means that can dedicate more time to chilling out and doing something that they really enjoy in the morning, whether that be exercise (as above), reading, or meeting up with their friends before school to have a smoothie.


6. Encourage healthy sleeping habits 

Teenagers are growing rapidly – physically and emotionally – and they truly need all the sleep they can get. Getting up early is often a challenge for them, regardless of how long they’ve slept for. However, it’s best to make sure teens get at least 8 hours of sleep; enough to allow their body to rest and recuperate, and their minds to be refreshed enough to tackle the next day’s tasks. If your teen has trouble going to sleep, they could try listening to some soothing, soft music. Some teens also find it easier to nod off when they hear white noise or gentle, natural sounds such as crackling fireplaces, rainfall, thunderstorms, or ocean waves. Your teen could set up a Bluetooth speaker on low volume, connected to a playlist. Most phones come with a timer function that stops playing after a set time – say, 18 minutes – just after your teen has happily drifted off. 

7. Deal with stress 

Teens very often face seemingly overwhelming studies and homework, peer expectations, challenging work customers, and many other new issues that come with growing up. Add errands and chores to this – and you have a perfect recipe for teens to keep hitting the snooze button. Try not to give advice unless your teen specifically asks you for it, but do mention what problems you are going through, how you are dealing with them, and encourage them to face theirs. Always reassure them that you love and support them, and let them know that you believe in their ability to be smart and strong. When a teen knows they have a supportive family and is confident that they can take on each day, they’ll be more excited to get up and get started.

Author’s note: Check out more of Cloe’s work here.


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How to Stop Overthinking Things

Why do we overthink things? Why do we second guess what we’ve said? downloadWhy do we re-play negative situations over and over in our heads? Could anxiety be to blame?

What we need to do is to learn to take things for face value and just move on, BUT some say that’s not so easy for women because our hormones may actually be the culprit. 

Now, everyone has anxiety, and don’t forget, anxiety is important.  It’s a natural reaction that our body has to a new situation. It serves as a basic survival function – like a warning system that alerts us whenever we perceive a dangerous experience, but sometimes our anxiety works overtime.

Researchers are investigating whether estrogen – the female hormone – could be to blame for this increased brain activity and negative responses in women because it actually controls learning and processes our mistakes. Also, Estrogen is thought to increase serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain that can boost mood. If Estrogen drops then serotonin does too, which can contribute to mood swings and depression.  Everything is intertwined.

Not to mention, hormonal changes have also been associated with anxiety. And with an increase in anxiety, we also see an increase in panic attacks (especially during PMS, post-childbirth, perimenopause, and menopause.) Therefore, when estrogen levels are low serotonin is low creating an unstable mood and then anxiety can develop.

However, there are some basic things you can do that will help your hormones stay regulated.  Such as practicing good eating habits, getting plenty of exercise and deep sleep. Also, limit alcohol, sleep in a cool room and don’t eat late at night.  All these issues can create a restless night. *It’s recommended that adults get 1.5 to 2 hours of deep sleep per night.   Remember, there’s no such thing as too much deep sleep.

Now with all this to consider, let’s get back to the main question… how do we stop overthinking? Here are 3 techniques that you can easily do.

1. Awareness

Awareness is the first step in putting an end to overthinking. Start paying attention to your thoughts. When you notice yourself replaying negative events in your mind over and over, or worrying about things you can’t control, acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t productive and release them (with your breath). It’s easy to get carried away with negative thoughts. Try to refocus on something positive to distract the negativity. Acknowledge when your thoughts may be a bit overly negative. Learn to recognize and replace this thinking before it goes too far.

2. Keep Your Focus On Problem-Solving

Dwelling on your problems isn’t helpful, but looking for tools, resources or solutions can be. Instead of asking why something happened, ask yourself what you can do about it. It keeps your thoughts in a positive mode and helps you feel like an active participant in fixing the issue.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Eventually, work your way up to mindfulness strategies such as positive coping skills and relaxation techniques. It’s impossible to rehash yesterday or worry about tomorrow when you’re living in the present. Commit to becoming more aware of the here and now. Mindfulness takes practice, like any other skill, but over time, it can decrease overthinking.

Why it’s not Always Smart to Lead with a Physical Compliment

We are all guilty of it.  Leading with a comment about someone’s appearance has replaced the basic niceties of modern conversation when greeting someone.  Let’s face it, it’s easy to comment on someone’s clothes or looks instead of on something of more substance.  It has become an easy fallback comment for many people. Why? When we don’t know what to say to someone……we compliment them.  It’s used as a conversation starter at a party or social event. The intent is to show that we are interested in getting to know you better, but in some cases, can have damaging effects when we don’t truly know the other person.

It takes effort to think beyond appearance and comment on something besides looks or clothes. Try replacing you look “pretty or skinny” with you look “healthy, rested, or relaxed”   Or, just don’t comment on appearance at all. Try introducing yourself to someone with just a smile, a hello, and an extended hand.

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Greeting people with a comment about their appearance can, unfortunately, be a trigger for certain people. Especially those with eating disorders. If they receive compliments for their thin appearance, this can encourage them to lose more weight.  So, if an individual struggles with an eating disorder and they hear that they “look great” or look “so skinny”, this can encourage them to keep on the unhealthy path.  It’s all about control. Those with eating disorders often struggle to be “the thinnest in the room”.  A comment about their weight, can serve as a source of pride or success and encourage more weight loss.  And, a comment like “you look too skinny” can also be seen as a badge of honor to someone who thinks that you can never be too thin.

The same can also be said for people who have always struggled to put weight on.  Maybe they were picked on for their slight appearance during childhood.  Many people hold on to those damaging/bullying comments into adulthood. They don’t just go away, especially, for those who look at more “curvy” or “muscular” physiques as being the ideal.  Hearing “you look too skinny” reaffirms what they are already feeling about themselves. It deepens their disapproval of self and increases their body shame.  For those already questioning their thin appearance, comments like these can ultimately affect their self-esteem, their relationships, and their sense of self-worth. After many failed attempts at trying to put weight on, they can end up in a downward spiral that leads to depression and thoughts of being unwanted or unloved.

Words have more impact on others than we realize.

When is it ok to comment on appearance?  When you know the individual well and it is truly heartfelt.  Like the friend that has struggled with weight gain, but is on a “healthy” path to losing the weight.  Telling her that you are proud of her for losing the weight can be very encouraging as long as you can back up your words. Be sure to support her and her new healthy lifestyle. Offer to go on walks or hikes, check out some new recipes and spending time cooking together can put more credence behind your words.