The Importance of Self-Care: Teaching Teenage Girls to Prioritize Mental Well-Being in a Busy World

In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, teenage girls often have to juggle multiple responsibilities, from academic pressures to social expectations and extracurricular activities. Amidst this whirlwind of obligations, it’s easy for them to neglect their mental well-being. However, prioritizing self-care is essential for maintaining balance, managing stress, and promoting overall mental health. In this blog, Eva Carlston Academy will explore the importance of self-care for teenage girls, providing practical tips for incorporating self-care practices into their daily lives.

Understanding Self-Care

Self-care encompasses a range of activities and practices that prioritize one’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It involves intentionally nurturing oneself, recharging energy levels, and cultivating a sense of balance and inner peace. While self-care practices may vary from person to person, they often include exercise, mindfulness meditation, journaling, leisure time, and engaging in hobbies or creative pursuits.

The Importance of Self-Care for Teenage Girls

Teenage girls face a myriad of challenges and stressors, including academic pressure, social dynamics, body image issues, and peer relationships. Neglecting adequate self-care can exacerbate these challenges and lead to increased stress, anxiety, and burnout. By prioritizing self-care, teenage girls can better cope with stress, build resilience, and improve their overall mental health and well-being.

Practical Tips for Incorporating Self-Care into Daily Life

  1. Schedule “me” time: Encourage teenage girls to carve out some time for self-care activities, whether that means a morning meditation session, an afternoon walk in nature, or an evening spent indulging in a favorite hobby.
  2. Practice mindfulness: Teach mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing exercises, body scans, or guided meditation to help teenage girls stay present, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of calm amidst the chaos of daily life.
  3. Prioritize sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for mental and physical health. Encourage teenage girls to establish a regular sleep routine, avoid screens before bedtime, and create a relaxing sleep environment to promote restful sleep.
  4. Nourish the body: Emphasize the importance of balanced nutrition and regular meals to encourage healthy eating habits. Eating nourishing foods can fuel the body and mind, boost mood, and improve one’s overall well-being.
  5. Stay active: Regular physical activity is not only beneficial for physical health, but also for mental health. Encourage teenage girls to find and stick to activities they enjoy, whether it’s yoga, dancing, or team sports, and to incorporate exercise into their daily routines.
  6. Set boundaries: Teach teenage girls the importance of setting boundaries and saying no to activities or commitments that drain their energy or cause undue stress. Empower them to prioritize their own needs and well-being.
  7. Practice self-compassion: Encourage teenage girls to be kind to themselves and practice self-compassion. Remind them that making mistakes, taking breaks, and seeking support when needed is okay.

In today’s fast-paced world, self-care is more important than ever for teenage girls. By prioritizing their mental well-being and incorporating self-care practices into their daily lives, adolescent girls can build resilience, manage stress, and thrive amidst life’s challenges. As parents, educators, and mentors, it’s essential to encourage and support teenage girls in prioritizing self-care and making their mental health a top priority. By doing so, we can empower them to lead balanced, fulfilling lives and navigate the complexities of adolescence with confidence and resilience.

Peer Pressure and Mental Health: Making Informed Choices

Navigating the teenage years can be a complex and challenging journey, with peer pressure standing out as one of the most significant hurdles to overcome. This period of life is marked by a quest for identity, belonging, and acceptance, making adolescents particularly vulnerable to the influences of their social circles. Eva Carlston Academy, a female-owned and operated facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, is at the forefront of addressing the challenges of peer pressure among adolescents. Catering to girls aged 12-18, the Academy offers a second chance in life, focusing on mental health and informed decision-making amidst peer influences. The Academy’s urban living spaces, situated in residential neighborhoods, provide a safe, secure, and home-like environment. Detailed below is an exploration of Eva Carlston Academy’s approach to managing peer pressure and equipping its students for positive decision-making.

The Nature of Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is the influence exerted by one’s peers to encouraging that person to change their attitudes, values, or behaviors to conform to group norms. While peer pressure is often perceived as negative, it’s important to recognize that it can also be a positive force, encouraging healthy behaviors and supporting good choices. However, the negative aspects of peer pressure are typically more prominent and concerning, especially when they lead to harmful behaviors or mental health challenges. At Eva Carlston Academy, peer pressure is acknowledged as a complex issue affecting adolescents. Through its milieu-based treatment and lifestyle therapy, the Eva Carlston Academy addresses various forms of peer influence within a supportive, home-like atmosphere, complete with art therapy rooms and classrooms.

The Mental Health Connection

The link between peer pressure and mental health in adolescents is a critical concern. The desire to fit in or be accepted by peers can cause significant amounts of stress and anxiety. This can lead to a range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety disorders, and low self-esteem. In more extreme cases, succumbing to negative peer pressure can result in engaging in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, smoking, or unhealthy eating habits, which further exacerbate mental health problems.

The impact on mental health can be both immediate and long-term. The immediate effects include increased stress and anxiety levels, while the long-term effects may include enduring patterns of negative thinking and behavior, which can have a lasting impact on an individual’s life. Eva Carlston Academy’s staff understands the significant effect that peer pressure can have on a young girl’s mental health.

Positive Decision-Making Strategies

Adolescents can employ various strategies to cope with and resist negative peer pressure, thereby safeguarding their mental health. Eva Carlston Academy employs a multi-faceted approach to help students resist negative peer pressure:

  • Developing Self-Awareness: A strong sense of self functions as a powerful defense against negative peer pressure. Teens should be encouraged to explore and develop a thorough understand their personal values, beliefs, and preferences. This self-awareness creates a foundation for making decisions that are in line with one’s true self, rather than being swayed by external influences.
  • Building Confidence: Confidence is key in resisting negative peer pressure. Adolescents with higher self-esteem are less likely to seek approval from others and more likely to make independent choices. Confidence can be built through achievements in academics, sports, arts, or any other area that interests the teen. Encouraging self-expression and celebrating individual achievements can significantly boost confidence.
  • Choosing Positive Peer Groups: The company one keeps will significantly influence behavior and choices. Seeking out and forming connections with peers who have similar values and interests can create a supportive and positive environment. In such groups, the pressure tends to be towards constructive behaviors rather than destructive ones.
  • Assertiveness Training: Learning to say no is a critical skill in resisting peer pressure. Teens should be taught assertiveness skills, which involve expressing their own needs and desires firmly and respectfully, without offending others. Role-playing different scenarios where they might face peer pressure can be a practical way to develop these skills.
  • Seeking Support: It’s vital for teens to know that they’re not alone and that it’s okay to seek help. Talking to trusted adults, like parents, teachers, or counselors, can provide the support and guidance needed to deal with peer pressure. Support groups and peer mentoring programs can also be beneficial.
  • Staying Informed: Education about the consequences of risky behaviors often pressured by peers (like drug use, alcohol abuse, or reckless driving) can empower teens to make better informed choices. Awareness programs and educational materials that provide factual information about these risks can be effective.

Our Role in Adolescent Development

Parents and educators play a pivotal role in guiding adolescents through the challenges of peer pressure. Eva Carlston Academy extends its support to the families of its students:

  • Fostering Open Communication: Creating an environment where teens feel comfortable sharing their experiences and concerns about peer pressure is crucial. Providing this opportunity for open dialogue helps in understanding their challenges and providing appropriate support.
  • Modeling Positive Behavior: Adults should model the behavior they wish to see in their children. Demonstrating how to make choices based on personal values rather than societal pressures can be a powerful lesson for adolescents.
  • Implementing Educational Programs: Schools and community organizations can offer programs focused on teaching young people about peer pressure. These programs should include strategies to resist negative influences and promote individual decision-making.
  • Guidance and Monitoring: While respecting their need for independence, it’s important for parents and educators to remain involved and observant. Guiding adolescents in their choice of friends and activities, and intervening when necessary, is part of providing a safety net.

In conclusion, peer pressure is an inevitable aspect of adolescent life. However, by understanding its dynamics and employing strategies to manage it, teenagers can navigate these challenges successfully. Eva Carlston Academy is more than a treatment facility; it’s a community committed to empowering young girls to navigate the complexities of adolescence, including peer pressure. Its unique setting in Salt Lake City, combined with comprehensive therapeutic and educational programs, equips students with the necessary tools to make positive choices, improve their mental health, and successfully reintegrate into their families and communities.

Nurturing Teen Mental Health Through Quality Sleep

In an era where the mental health of teenagers is becoming more and more of a concerning topic, the role of sleep in supporting psychological well-being has emerged as a key area of focus. Adolescence, a pivotal stage of development, is marked by significant physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. During this period, sleep becomes even more than just a restorative necessity; it’s a fundamental pillar supporting mental health. Eva Carlston Academy places a strong emphasis on the importance of sleep for the mental health of its students.

Deepening the Understanding of Sleep and Mental Well-Being

The importance of sleep in the life of a teenager cannot be overstated. It’s a time when the brain undergoes crucial developmental processes, including synaptic pruning, where the brain discards neural connections that are no longer needed and strengthens those that are frequently used. Recognizing that adequate sleep is crucial for mood regulation, cognitive function, and overall mental health, the Eva Carlston Academy ensures that its students receive the necessary 8-10 hours of sleep each night, aligning with recommendations for adolescent well-being.

The Complex Relationship Between Sleep and Emotional Regulation

Research has consistently demonstrated that there’s a strong correlation between sleep quality and emotional well-being in teenagers. Inadequate sleep can lead to heightened emotional reactivity, making teens more prone to mood swings and irritability. The Eva Carlston Academy understands that this can exacerbate tendencies towards anxiety and depression.

  • Cognitive Functions and Sleep: The teenage brain is still developing areas responsible for executive functions, including problem-solving, memory, and decision-making. Sleep plays a critical role in this development. During deep sleep stages, the brain consolidates memories and information learned during the day, enhancing learning and memory retention.
  • The Stress Connection: Stress and sleep have a reciprocal relationship in teenagers. High stress can lead to sleep disturbances, while poor sleep can increase the body’s stress response. This can create a cycle where stress and sleeplessness feed off each other, leading to heightened anxiety and other stress-related issues.
  • Breaking the Cycle: Understanding the bidirectional nature of the relationship between sleep and mental health is critical. It’s not just that poor sleep can lead to mental health challenges; mental health problems can also disturb sleep patterns. Addressing one aspect of this cycle can often help to alleviate the other.

Comprehensive Strategies for Improving Sleep Habits

Enhancing sleep quality in teenagers is a multifaceted endeavor involving changes in lifestyle, environment, and mindset. The Eva Carlston Academy understands just how important a good night’s rest can be for developing teenagers.

  • Consistency in Sleep Patterns: Encouraging a regular sleep schedule is vital. Consistency in sleep and wake times sets the body’s internal clock, leading to improved sleep quality.
  • Optimizing the Sleep Environment: The bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleep. This means maintaining a cool, quiet, and dark environment. Reducing noise and light exposure can significantly improve sleep quality.
  • Dietary Considerations: Caffeine and sugar, prevalent in the diets of many teenagers, can have a detrimental impact on sleep. Reducing intake, especially during the hours leading up to bedtime, can make a significant difference.
  • Physical Activity and Sleep: Regular physical activity has been shown to improve sleep quality. However, it’s important to avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime because it can have a stimulating effect.
  • Pre-Bedtime Routines: Establishing a relaxing routine before bed can signal to the body that it’s time to wind down. This might include activities like reading, listening to calm music, or practicing relaxation techniques.
  • Technology and Sleep: In today’s digital age, screen time is a major concern. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with melatonin production, disrupting the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Encouraging teens to disconnect from their devices an hour before bedtime can be beneficial.
  • Addressing Sleep Disorders and Mental Health Issues: Sometimes, sleep problems are symptoms of underlying health issues, including mental health disorders. It’s important for parents and caregivers to be vigilant and seek professional help if sleep problems persist.
  • Educational Programs on Sleep Health: Schools and communities can play a role in promoting sleep health by incorporating educational programs that emphasize the importance of sleep for well-being.
  • Parental Involvement and Support: Parents can support their teenagers by modeling good sleep habits and creating a home environment conducive to healthy sleep practices.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I): For teens struggling with insomnia, CBT-I, a structured program that helps identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep, can be a particularly effective treatment.

In conclusion, sleep is an essential component of a teenager’s mental and physical health. By understanding the complex relationship between sleep and mental well-being and implementing strategies to improve sleep habits, we can support our youth in navigating the challenges of adolescence. A holistic approach that includes lifestyle changes, environmental adjustments, and professional intervention, when necessary, can pave the way for healthier, more resilient teenagers. Eva Carlston Academy’s commitment to the critical role of sleep in teen mental health is evident in its comprehensive approach, which includes therapeutic support, lifestyle therapy, and a nurturing residential environment. The academy strives to empower its students with the tools they need for long-term success and well-being.

Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Teens

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As the new year approaches, it’s the perfect time for teenagers to reflect on their goals and aspirations. Knowing that most New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside by the time the calendar switches to February, here are ten resolutions teens can stick to in 2024 from the experts at Eva Carlston Academy.

  1. Embrace a healthy lifestyle:
    Eat a balanced diet: Focus on consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein while limiting processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.
    Move your body regularly: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. Find activities you enjoy, such as sports, dancing, swimming, or biking.
    Prioritize sleep: Teenagers need around 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Establish a regular sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine for optimal rest.
  2. Enhance your mental well-being:
    Practice mindfulness: Techniques like meditation and yoga can help you focus on the present moment and better manage stress.
    Challenge negative thoughts: Don’t let negativity control your mind. Replace self-criticism with positive affirmations and practice self-compassion.
    Seek support when needed: If you’re struggling with your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor.
  3. Strengthen your relationships:
    Spend quality time with loved ones: Put down your phone and truly connect with family and friends through meaningful conversations and shared activities.
    Develop open and honest communication: Listen actively and express your thoughts and feelings respectfully to build stronger relationships.
    Expand your social circle: Join clubs, volunteer in your community, or simply say “hello” to someone new to broaden your social network.
  4. Foster academic excellence:
    Set SMART goals: Make every goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound for better focus and motivation.
    Master time management: Create a schedule that balances academic work, extracurricular activities, and personal time. Utilize tools like planners and calendars to stay organized.
    Seek help and resources: Don’t be afraid to ask for help from teachers, tutors, or academic advisors. Utilize resources like libraries and online learning platforms to enhance your understanding.
  5. Explore new horizons:
    Discover new hobbies and interests: This could be anything from music and art to coding and writing. Try new things to find activities that spark your passion.
    Challenge yourself intellectually: Read various books, engage in stimulating discussions, participate in workshops, and broaden your perspective through new experiences.
    Express your creativity: Whether through art, music, writing, or other mediums, it’s always beneficial to find ways to express your unique talents and perspectives.
  6. Develop financial literacy:
    Track your income and expenses: Create a budget to understand your financial situation and make informed decisions. Budgeting apps can help simplify this process.
    Learn about smart spending: Differentiate between needs and wants. Make conscious financial choices and avoid unnecessary debt.
    Start saving early: Even small amounts saved consistently can add up over time. Develop a savings plan and work towards achieving your financial goals.
  7. Use technology responsibly:
    Develop valuable digital skills: Learn coding, web design, digital marketing, or other relevant skills that can benefit your future.
    Leverage technology for good: Use technology to connect with others, learn about important issues, and contribute positively to your community.
    Maintain a healthy balance: Limit screen time and prioritize real-world interactions, physical activities, and face-to-face connections.
  8. Become a responsible citizen:
    Stay informed about current events: Read reliable news sources and engage in discussions about important issues to stay aware of what’s happening in the world around you.
    Advocate for causes you care about: Volunteer your time, participate in protests or rallies, or speak out against injustice to help make a difference.
    Practice responsible environmentalism: Reduce your carbon footprint, conserve resources, and participate in initiatives to protect the environment.
  9. Develop a growth mindset:
    Embrace challenges: View obstacles as opportunities for learning and growth. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try new things.
    Learn from mistakes: Everyone makes mistakes. See them as learning experiences and use them to improve and overcome challenges.
    Be persistent: Don’t give up easily. Persistence and dedication are key to achieving goals and reaching your full potential.
  10. Celebrate your progress:
    Acknowledge your accomplishments: Take the time to appreciate your achievements, big or small. This will boost your confidence and motivate you to keep moving forward to new goals.
    Be kind to yourself: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and has setbacks. Focus on self-compassion and celebrate your journey along the way.

Coping Strategies for Stressed Teens During the Holidays

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The holiday season, while seemingly a time of joy and celebration, can be surprisingly stressful for teens. Between academic pressure, family dynamics, and social expectations, the holidays can trigger strong emotions that make it difficult to feel relaxed and happy.

Fortunately, there are several coping strategies that can help teenagers manage their stress and navigate the holidays with greater ease. Here are some effective ways teens can protect their mental well-being and enjoy the festive season from the experts at Eva Carlston Academy:

Managing Expectations

Set realistic goals: Instead of aiming for a picture-perfect holiday experience, set attainable goals for yourself. Focus on spending quality time with loved ones and creating positive memories rather than achieving unrealistic expectations.

Communicate openly: Talk to your family members about your wishes and anxieties regarding the holidays. Discuss gift expectations, schedule changes, and any potential triggers that might arise during gatherings. Open communication can help prevent misunderstandings and create a more supportive environment.

Embrace change: Recognize that the holidays may look different this year compared to previous years. Be adaptable and focus on creating positive experiences in the present moment.

Prioritizing Self-Care

Maintain routines: As much as possible, stick to your regular sleep schedule, mealtimes, and exercise routine. Consistency in your daily habits can provide a sense of normalcy and structure during even the busiest times.

Engage in relaxing activities: Make time for activities that you enjoy and find relaxing, such as reading, taking walks in nature, listening to music, or spending time with hobbies. Prioritizing self-care allows you to recharge and manage stress more effectively.

Mindfulness and meditation: Practices like deep breathing, mindfulness exercises, and meditation can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm. Taking a few minutes each day to quiet your mind and focus on your breathing can be incredibly beneficial.

Maintaining Social Connections

Connect with supportive friends: Surround yourself with friends who understand and support you. Spending time with people who make you feel comfortable and appreciated will boost your mood and reduce stress.

Set boundaries: It’s okay to say no to invitations or activities that you don’t feel comfortable with. Don’t feel obligated to attend every event or socialize when you need time for yourself.

Seek professional help: If you’re struggling to manage stress on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Talking to a therapist can provide valuable guidance, support, and coping mechanisms for dealing with holiday stress and other challenges.

Additional Strategies

Get involved in the holidays: Contributing to holiday preparations and traditions can provide a sense of purpose and belonging. Offer to help with cooking, decorating, or planning activities.

Express yourself creatively: Engaging in creative activities like journaling, drawing, or playing music can be a healthy way to express your emotions and process stress.

Limit screen time: While technology can be a useful tool for connecting with others, excessive screen time can contribute to increased anxiety and negative moods. Set boundaries for yourself and take breaks from your phone and social media each day.

Practice gratitude: Taking time to appreciate the positive aspects of your life and the people around you can shift your focus from negativity and promote a sense of gratitude and well-being.

Remember, it’s okay to not be okay: Holidays can be emotionally demanding, and it’s perfectly normal to experience feelings of stress, sadness, or loneliness, so don’t judge yourself for having negative emotions. Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to express them in a healthy way.

Here are some additional resources that may be helpful for teenagers experiencing holiday stress:

By implementing these coping strategies and utilizing available resources, teenagers can navigate the holiday season with greater ease to enjoy a more peaceful and fulfilling experience. Remember, your mental well-being is important, and prioritizing self-care during the holidays is crucial for maintaining a positive and healthy mindset.

The Impact of Social Media on Teenage Mental Health

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Social media has changed the world, and for many teenagers, social media is their world.

According to a Pew Research Center Survey, teenagers in the U.S. are almost always plugged in. In 2022, 67% of those between the ages of 13 and 17 say they use TikTok (16% use it “almost constantly), 62% use Instagram, 59% use Snapchat and a whopping 95% use YouTube.

As the social media landscape explodes in popularity, its impact on teenage mental health remains a constant concern. Eva Carlston Academy explains that during the vulnerable period of life that is the teenage years, social media has the potential to change lives for the better but also may impact mental health in very significant ways.

Social Media and Development

Adolescence is one of the most critical periods of one’s life. The brain’s separate areas begin to integrate, and development is accelerated. It’s a time when the brain is usually most open to growing and learning.

Adolescents are trying to form their own identity while exerting more independence and developing serious friendships and relationships. All of those factors make teenagers especially vulnerable to social media’s effects.

Positive Effects

Let’s start with the good news. For many teens, social media is where they may find a wealth of social support and essential connections among their own age group. That’s especially important for groups of marginalized people, such as the LGBTQ+ community.

In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General notes that social media may actually provide a mental health boost for youth who identify as LGBTQ+.

In general, social media makes people feel good. Through monitoring social media and checking their number of likes and comments on posts. This activity has been shown to release dopamine, a chemical released in the brain that makes people feel happy.

For some, social media can positively impact self-esteem, especially if there is consistently favorable feedback. And for those who are considered more introverted or find it challenging to meet and chat with people face-to-face, social media may be a helpful tool or those coping with social anxiety.

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Negative Impacts on Mental Health

Life on social media isn’t always positive — and it can often be detrimental.

Many researchers say that rising mental illness rates are in some way connected to the rise in social media use among adolescents. A 2018 survey found that 59% of teens using social media have experienced some form of cyberbullying, such as name-calling, spreading gossip, or receiving unwanted explicit images.

There are other negative effects on one’s well-being. Numerous surveys have linked anxiety, depression, poor sleep, low self-esteem, and body image issues to toxic social media environments.

Nearly 75% of adolescents surveyed in the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2023 Social Media and Youth Mental Health Advisory say they are either sometimes or often exposed to hate content on social media. In addition, teenagers who use social media for over three years each day are twice as likely to experience poor mental health.

Supporting Mental Health

Lawmakers and parents have the power to support teenagers on social media and prevent them from falling into a negative mental health space.

Policymakers are invested in finding ways to develop safety and health standards across social media platforms that are age-appropriate. Parents or guardians can also dedicate themselves to monitoring a teenager’s social media activity and consider blocking certain sites or social platforms.

And social media companies themselves have a duty to share any information related to the potential mental health effects of adolescents who use their platforms.

Navigating Peer Pressure

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“Fitting in” is a big priority for adolescents. That motivation paired with intense peer pressure makes for a combustible combination.

Peer pressure reaches its peak around 15 years old and usually subsides around 18 when individuals begin to feel more confident about their identities and setting boundaries with peers and friends. However, many middle school and high school experiences are turbulent because of the strong pull of peer pressure in many different forms.

About 85% of high schoolers have experienced some form of social pressure. Because of this, 75% of adolescents have reported having tried alcohol and 70% of teens reported starting a smoking habit. Eva Carlston Academy notes that it’s never an easy environment to navigate but falling prey to peer pressure doesn’t have to be a coming-of-age rite of passage.

Types of Influence

Peer pressure comes in many forms — it can involve everything from being told how to dress to feeling pressured to have sex — but there are six main types.

Spoken influence is arguably the most common form. It is characterized by individuals, or groups of people encouraging someone to take part in some type of behavior. Group influence is usually stronger than that from one individual. The pressure to conform to certain behaviors or trends is considered unspoken sway.

In the realm of peer dynamics, pressure can take various forms. While direct peer pressure is explicit and commands specific behavioral conformity, indirect peer pressure stems from an internal conflict, compelling individuals to align their actions with certain expectations. This internal struggle often speaks volumes about the profound impact of peer influence.

There is also a positive aspect (positive choices and lifestyle decisions), which encompasses a range of uplifting behaviors and lifestyle choices that are fostered and championed by either an individual or a collective group. It involves the promotion of constructive habits, attitudes, and values that contribute to personal growth, well-being, and overall happiness.

Feeling the Pressure

Teenagers face numerous situations where they may feel pressured to conform socially. It’s a stress that is felt more intensely since teenagers are facing situations they probably have never experienced before.

This includes drinking or trying drugs, having sex, stealing, or shoplifting, dressing in a certain way, or driving without a license.

In the realm of peer influence, individuals can find themselves entangled in situations where they feel compelled to distance themselves from specific individuals, or refrain from forming connections with them. These emotionally charged scenarios add a layer of complexity and can be particularly detrimental to those involved.

Many who have experienced peer pressure say it comes with feelings of loneliness and anxiety but can also have a lingering impact. Feeling stress or anxiety, for example, to lose weight, can quickly lead to eating disorders and long-term body image issues.

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Tips on Dealing with Social Influence

Successfully navigating peer pressure relies on knowing oneself and trusting one’s gut. The old strategy remains true: If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Follow those instincts.

That goes hand-in-hand with thinking about the consequences of one’s actions. Will there be trouble stemming from the situation, perhaps being suspended from school, or grounded at home? Thinking about the lifestyle impacted can be effective deterrents.

One of the best approaches is understanding that saying “no” is OK, especially to requests or suggestions that make someone uncomfortable or unsure. If it’s easier, making an excuse to leave a situation often works well. Others rely on busying themselves with something positive they enjoy, such as gardening, reading, or playing sports.

Some find it best to avoid certain situations or environments where peer pressure has been experienced before. Handling such situations is often easier after talking about it with trusted allies, such as parents, friends, or mentors, since this experience can be very isolating.

A school counselor or professional therapist can also offer good advice on how to deal with certain peer pressure situations but having just one friend also say “no” to peer pressure makes a very big difference.

Developing Resilience

Navigating peer pressure is never easy, especially when it is subtle. A friend may, without words, pressure another friend to do something they aren’t comfortable with.

That’s why teenagers need to be surrounded by positive influences, develop a strong sense of self, and solidify the values likely to guide the rest of their lives.

Advantages of a Well-Rounded Lifestyle for Students

Eva Carlston Academy

Being a student is always a challenge: homework, class projects, being social, and keeping up with a part-time job are all common parts of a teenager’s life. Is it too overwhelming though? In this article, Eva Carlston Academy takes a look at why it’s important and valuable for students to engage in hobbies and extracurricular pursuits alongside academic commitments.

Balancing Academia and Extracurriculars

While it might seem like a lot, it’s actually very beneficial for students to have a healthy mix of academia and extracurriculars. It challenges them (in a good way!) and helps them develop skills that’ll be useful when they enter the adult world. Whether the person is a student athlete, has a job outside of school, or does work with an organization they’re passionate about, below are just some of the benefits of maintaining a full schedule:

Personal Development

One reason for students to involve themselves in a wide range of interests and hobbies is for personal development. In the academic setting, there are often limited classes and they’re all very similar. Math, history, and science are commonplace, as well as language classes; however, students can branch out even further from this curriculum by seeking learning outside of school.

Time Management Skills

Another benefit of being a well-rounded person is the ability to handle time management skills. It’s no secret that it’s hard work to juggle homework as well as whatever else goes on at home. Some students will have part-time jobs while others might have internships.

Guess what? The real world requires the ability to manage time well. Being involved in various activities as a student better prepares them to be adults that can juggle their job, home, and/or family responsibilities.

Challenges Comfort Zones

When one never reaches outside of their comfort zone, they’ll never learn new skills or discover that they actually like a specific kind of hobby. By stepping out of their comfort zone, they’ll discover new ways to challenge their ways of thinking or doing things.

Doctors have found that the brain also likes to stay active. It creates new neurological pathways, which keeps the brain healthy and lessons the chances of developing a disease like Alzheimer’s. Besides, maybe a student will discover a new interest that they would’ve never thought to seek out before.

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Helps With College Admissions

Colleges and universities seek students who bring more than just academic excellence to the table. While top grades showcase one form of prowess, they don’t necessarily predict success in the dynamic real world. Recognizing that standardized tests aren’t everyone’s forte, and that diverse passions drive individuals in unique ways, it’s crucial to consider the entirety of a student’s journey.

By delving into hobbies and extracurricular pursuits, prospective students reveal a multi-dimensional portrait of themselves. This broader view allows college admissions officers to gain invaluable insights into the character, potential, and fit of each applicant. It’s through this comprehensive lens that institutions can identify those who will not only thrive academically but also contribute meaningfully to the vibrant tapestry of their school community.

The Mental Health Impact of Social Media Use

Nearly every North American adolescent and teenager uses at least one social media platform daily, with most checking in online constantly throughout the day. But are there negative effects of this type of communication and technology use?

Unfortunately, teens face negative consequences from multiple angles in regard to social media. There are physical effects such as lack of sleep, social effects like cyber bullying, and emotional effects such as low self-esteem. Passive, versus active use of social platforms is a differentiation that will influence which of these outcomes teens will experience the most. 

Below, Eva Carlston Academy takes a closer look at how social media use can cause a decline in mental health, as well as how the use of these platforms can affect teens physically and socially. 

Social Impacts of Technology That Affect Mental Health

Social impacts are experienced more by active users than passive. Cyber bullying is experienced by 10% of all teens that are active on social sites and is therefore one of the most common negative effects overall. Bullying lowers self-esteem and can make teens and adolescents more reluctant to engage with their peers. Plus, when rumors are spread online, teens can face various forms of societal isolation.

Excessive self-absorption is another common side effect of posting frequently on social platforms: teens become more self-centered and end up feeling distanced from people they interact with in person. They can also struggle to connect.  

These impacts can have serious consequences on mental health as well. The abuse from online bullies and the disconnect experienced during in-person interaction increase the risk of experiencing depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

Emotional Impacts

Emotional impacts are more prevalent in passive users. Teens who spend a lot of time scrolling posts on sites like Facebook and Instagram often compare themselves to the people they view. They believe that others are happier and lead more perfect lives, with flawless skin and attractive bodies. Teens then end up feeling insecure about their individuality and believe they aren’t able to keep up with the rest of their peers or society as a whole.

Unfortunately, negative emotions also increase at high rates as teens try to combat discomforts like loneliness and isolation. As they continue to scroll, feeling worse about their own situations, mental health struggles, such as body-image concerns, depression and self-harm can become more severe.

Physical Impacts

There are two main physical effects that can end up altering the mental health of teens whether they are active or passive users. Studies have proven that longer durations of technology use per day (3 hours or more) especially during nighttime hours can result in a lack of sleep and/or more disruptive sleep. Insomnia can lead to issues like brain fog, stress, irritability, and more.

Spending a large amount of time on social sites also reduces the amount of physical activity that teens tend to participate in. Exercise and outdoor activities release serotonin and endorphins and reduce feelings of loneliness; teens that spend time scrolling through networking sites miss out on these beneficial activities.

On a broad scale, a lack of restful sleep and limited physical activity can result in poor mental health outcomes: depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts all become more prevalent. 

Final Thoughts

It is evident that both passive and active use of social media can easily deteriorate the mental health of teen users. Whether a teen experiences negative social, emotional, or physical impacts from use of networking sites, their mental health can fall by the wayside.

The Importance of Meaningful Family Traditions

Family traditions can have many purposes and prompt responses ranging from joyful anticipation to sorrowful remembrance. In most cases, traditions play a connective and formative role. Eva Carlston Academy reviews what makes family traditions so important, especially in childhood and adolescence.

The consistent recurrence of traditions can provide comfort and stability in an ever-changing world, especially during the developmental stages. Traditions can also strengthen cultural values and family bonds, support personal identity formation, and promote a healthy work-life balance.

Trimming the Christmas tree as a family, getting ice cream together on Saturdays, or singing Grandma’s favorite song on the anniversary of her passing can make such a big difference in family bonds.

What Makes a Family Custom

While many people associate traditions with long-standing practices passed down for generations, not every ritual began with Great-great-great-grandma. Rather, a family tradition is simply an event or custom that begins somewhere within the family unit and is repeated regularly in the family setting. In a way, it is a family’s own small-scale culture.

Though many family traditions coincide with annual religious celebrations, birthdays, and national holidays, others take place on a weekly or daily basis, or at some other regular interval. Almost anything that a family considers significant and repeats regularly can become a tradition.

For those with contentious family relationships, those who have experienced the loss of their closest family members, and those who live too far away to create meaningful and consistent family customs, creating traditions with friends who act as “chosen family” can offer many of the same social and health benefits as those that unite blood relatives.

The Value of Rituals

While celebratory traditions often become happy shared memories, other traditions may be important reminders of a solemn family event. Despite their different tones, both types of traditions have the ultimate goal of bringing people together. Creating and maintaining the human connections they promote is a critical part of living a happy, healthy, and balanced life.

One of the most common ways to mark a tradition is with a shared meal, which can take place a few times a year or on a weekly or even daily basis. Research has shown that making family dinners a regular occurrence can have a significant positive impact on a child’s development, emotional well-being, and eating habits throughout life.

Sharing a meal with extended family members is also a great way to bring together loved ones who aren’t in regular contact, as it involves temporarily setting aside other activities and devices that often distract from conversation. When it comes to relationships, quality, consistency, and depth outweigh quantity and breadth in promoting lasting happiness and feelings of security.

Making a collective decision to pronounce something as “tradition” can help break up the humdrum monotony of day-to-day life. It can also promote a healthy work-life balance, especially since the pandemic has recently blurred the lines between the family-focused home setting and the productivity-focused workplace.

Eva Carlston

Examples of Regular Family Traditions

When it comes to defining traditions, there is no hard-and-fast rule as to what “counts” and what doesn’t.

Families that practice a particular religion may observe liturgical holidays, fast days, feast days, or days of rest in accordance with their faith traditions. In addition to these more serious and religiously significant traditions, holidays that began as or have become secular celebrations can also provide an occasion for meaningful annual get-togethers or gift exchanges.

Here are a few examples of annual traditions that are particularly popular and widespread:

  • Trick-or-treating on Halloween
  • Giving gifts and blowing out candles on birthdays
  • Going out for dinner or giving gifts on Valentine’s Day
  • Eating a ]meal with extended family on Thanksgiving
  • Hunting for eggs and giving treats to children on Easter
  • Giving gifts during religious celebrations like Hanukkah and Christmas
  • Telling tales of Leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day
  • Setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July
  • Visiting a loved one’s grave on the day of their passing

In addition to these annual traditions, many smaller-scale traditions take place more frequently, including:

  • Reading bedtime stories to children
  • Praying before meals
  • Volunteering on a regular basis
  • Taking turns cooking dinner on different days of the week
  • Going out or getting take-out on certain days of the week/month
  • Family volunteering projects
  • Family game or movie nights
  • Seasonal fruit or vegetable picking as a family
  • Attending church services together

How to Create and Keep Family Customs

For many, the term “tradition” is tied to holidays, gift-giving, traveling, and catering for a crowd. While some people enjoy going all-out for such traditions, there’s a limit to how often someone can reasonably find the time (and the money!) to plan and execute such elaborate celebrations. There’s a reason that big holidays like Christmas only come once a year!

Luckily, however, not every tradition has to be so grandiose. In fact, many of the most meaningful traditions are fairly easy to organize, affordable to host, and variable in length. Things as simple as “Taco Tuesday,” nightly prayers, and monthly family movie night are great ways to strengthen family connections on a recurring basis.

While family traditions can promote stability and connection, especially for those experiencing the stressful changes of adolescence, having too many traditions risks desensitizing family members to the importance of joining together. Finding a quantity and collection of traditions that appeals to everyone in the family may take some experimentation, creativity, trial, and error.

To promote the connection, comfort, and familiarity at the core of every family tradition, each participant should be encouraged to offer input on how to adjust and improve traditions to make them meaningful for all involved.


Family traditions are integral to identity-formation, especially during childhood and adolescence. Traditions can help to promote a healthy work-life balance and can become the source of many lasting memories. Whether their intent is festive celebration or remembrance and consolation, traditions strengthen human connections through their comforting familiarity and consistency.