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.

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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.

The Importance of Family Relationships

Life is easier with a supportive family. Individuals, regardless of their age, require nurturing, soul-calming relationships with their relatives to bolster their confidence and give them the courage necessary to tackle life’s challenges. Eva Carlston Academy reviews that well-documented studies show mental health and well-being are directly related to their familial bonds.

While strong family relationships are necessary at all stages of life, they are particularly important for teenagers, who often go through challenging and uncertain times.

Why Family Connections Are Important

Stability, mental growth, and overall well-being are dependent on family bonds. Without healthy connections, children can struggle to form relationships outside of their homes, leaving them scrambling for friends or partners later in life.

Strong families teach forgiveness and ensure all members know how to build and retain trust in others as they share both good and bad times.

On top of that, they provide children with valuable, healthy conflict-resolving techniques that will serve them well in many situations.

As for the adults in robust families, they benefit from feeling safe, connected, comfortable, and respected by the people they care about.

Strong Family Relationships and the Impact on Teenagers

Teenagers’ relationships with their families change as they hit adolescence. However, they require as much parental and familial support as they did when they were young children.

Adolescence can be challenging. Not only does it bring physical changes, but also emotional ones, causing teens to feel unsure about where they fit in and who they are or want to be.

Furthermore, they may be weighed down by influences from their peers, pressure from school, and many other unique difficulties.
So, the presence of a secure, tight-knit family is crucial at this stage in their lives.

Strong family bonds provide a safe emotional base where teens feel appreciated and loved, regardless of the challenges they may be facing in the outside world. They can improve confidence and optimism while helping them establish their identity and build resilience.

Teenagers in families with clear boundaries, rules, and standards offer consistency and predictability, resulting in feelings of belonging and safety that they won’t get elsewhere.

In short, robust family bonds give teens the tools they need to tackle whatever adolescence throws at them — which can be a massive undertaking.

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Steps to Building Strong Family Relationships

While the steps below may sound simple, it’s easy to forget about these important aspects of family life, especially with external stressors. But experts encourage families to follow these seven tips for strengthening their bonds and giving every member safety, comfort, appreciation, and love:

  1. Quality Time — Mealtimes provide perfect opportunities for families to sit together, catch up, and have a laugh.
  2. Appreciation — Praise and gratitude go a long way.
  3. Celebration — Cherish the uniqueness of everyone in the family unit, celebrating their abilities and strengths.
  4. Communication — Always respect members’ needs. If they want to talk about something, they deserve the space to allow them to express themselves completely.
  5. Teamwork — Sharing household chores ensures every member feels acknowledged for their contributions.

Strong family relationships build resilient teens capable of overcoming setbacks and other life challenges which can support them throughout life. Having a strong family support system is vital for healthy social connections, tenacity, and confidence in themselves.

Being Resilient as a Teen and Healing from Trauma

Adolescence is a time of rapid physical, psychological, and social changes that can be both exciting and challenging. As teens transition from childhood to adulthood, they face a number of difficult issues and emotions that can be intensified for those who have experienced traumatic life events. Eva Carlston Academy reviews that with teens who have experienced trauma, resilience is a key factor in their ability to heal and cope with their experiences.

Resilience is the capacity to cope with adversity and tap into one’s inner strength to keep going, even in the face of challenges and hardships. By understanding the importance of being emotionally strong as a teen, young people can take positive steps to build on their mental toughness and cope with their trauma.

The Impact of Trauma

Trauma can have a severe and lasting impact on the physical, mental, and emotional health of young people. Traumatic events can include physical or sexual abuse, serious accidents or injuries, natural disasters, sudden loss of a parent, or other life-altering events. The effects of these traumatic events can linger long after the event has passed, impacting the teen’s day-to-day functioning and sense of security.

While not all teens will experience the same level of distress, those who have experienced trauma may be more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty developing and maintaining relationships with their peers.

The Importance of Resiliency

When faced with such intense emotional stress, resilience becomes a critical component in helping teens heal and cope. This ability acts as a way to manage adversity and to tap into one’s inner strength.

Resilient teens are often better able to handle emotional distress that can accompany traumatic events and are more likely to process their experiences in a healthy manner. This way, they can overcome the emotional and psychological challenges of trauma while developing through the rigors of teen life.

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Building Strength

There are several ways that teens can build inner strength and foster the skills needed to handle stress. Developing healthy coping skills, such as breathing exercises and mindfulness, can help teens identify and manage their emotions effectively.

Additionally, young people may benefit from developing a supportive social network, with friends and family members who can provide support and help them work through difficult times. Finally, teens can benefit from talking to a mental health professional, who can provide guidance and support as they heal.

Seeking Support

Reaching out for help is an important step in the healing process for anyone. Seeking support from family, friends, or professionals can help teens build resiliency and cope with their distress. Additionally, engaging in supportive activities and self-care can help teens build inner strength and deal with their traumatic experiences.

Final Thoughts

Adolescence can be a difficult time for teens, and even more so for those who have experienced trauma. By understanding the importance of being emotionally tough as a teen, young people can take positive steps to build resiliency and cope with life’s issues. While it may take time and patience, it is the first step to long-term healing.