The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

End of the school year got you stressed? Just breathe!

Last night at dinner my daughter and I were talking about how she and her classmates were all starting to experience elevated levels of stress with end of the year exams and standardized tests looming in the not-so-distant future. I’m sure she inwardly roller her eyes (maybe, maybe not) when I immediately used this as another opportunity to talk about the power of your breath to help calm you down.

As I’ve previously discussed here, I have embarked on my own breathing and meditation journey since experiencing a panic attack a few months ago. In fact, today is my 58th day of meditating using the Headspace meditation app and my second week of my beginner yoga practice which is a whole ‘nuther post. Through meditation I’ve certainly become more aware of my thoughts and breath and I’ve found that frequently during the day, I check in to see how I’m breathing. When things get tense at work or with life, I remember more and more to just take three slow deep breaths. I pause to look at my bracelet which read “Be Present” to ground myself in the present moment (because everything is actually always ok in the present moment when you’re not worrying about the past or future) and I breathe.

Breathing is a powerful tool to use when school pressures start to mount and it doesn’t have to be complicated either.

Just take three deep belly breaths.

And I do mean belly breaths. No shallow half-hearted breaths here! Breathe in so deeply that your lower belly expands (you know, like when you eat too much and get a food baby pooch? Yup, like that.), and sloooowly let your belly flatten as you exhale that breathe. You’re almost done – just take two more breaths like that.

Breathing like this to help manage your stress doesn’t mean you get to study less or that all your worries will fade away but studies have shown that this type of breathing actually causes your brain to change in positive ways. So who knows, maybe meditation and paying attention to your breathing will make it easier to take your tests and finish out the school year in a more positive way. I’m not making any promises but approaching stressful situations with a little more peace and a calmer body can’t hurt. Namaste my friends and wishing you many successes as your close out your school year!


4 Ways 4 Teens 2 B.E.A.T. Stress

I see how stressed out my teen daughter and her friends are about school and their crazy and intense schedules (up too early, to bed too late, too many activities, too many responsibilities….sound familiar?) Basically, stress if going to be a part of your life unless you decide to manage it.  Lucky for you, there are a few easy things you can do every day to help you manage this stress. I’ve made it really simple for you. Just remember the letters B – E – A – T. These are four easy ways to BEAT stress.

1. Breathe.

When you’re stressed, whether you realize it or not, you start to breathe more shallowly. You deny your body of oxygen and getting more oxygen via a few deep breaths is one of the easiest things you can do to calm yourself down. This doesn’t have to be complicated but there are a few different techniques out there. One of my favorites, and one that helps me to fall asleep really quickly, is called the 4-7-8 technique. Basically you just breath in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of 7 and then exhale for a count of 8. It might feel weird at first but it works. If you want to do something simpler just count your breath. Breath in and count to one, breathe out and count to two. Breath in and count to three, breath out and count to four. Now start over. Honestly, do whatever feels comfortable for you but just breathe.

2. Eat Right.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Eat right. Don’t drink sugary soda. Avoid fast food. Blah blah blah. I know you’ve been told to eat your veggies since you’ve been little but what you eat can really impact how you feel. Our instincts when we’re stressed are to eat comforting and fattening junk food but eating healthy makes you feel better inside which makes you feel better outside and so when you eat right, you feel right. I’m not saying you need to give up your comfort foods completely but don’t drown your stress in food. It will just make you feel worse.

3. Accomplish Small Tasks.

As a life coach I worked with graduate students who were trying to write their dissertations for their PhDs. They would come to me with huge lists of what they wanted to accomplish each day. “Write for 2 hours!” or “Finish one book each day” and I have to tell you, this is just crazy and reaaaaally adds to your stress. If you are going to learn one study/work habit make it this one – break everything down into small tasks. Got a paper to write? Write down a list of all the things you have to do to get it done: 1) Research the author and find 5 articles about her, 2) Write one paragraph on the author’s childhood, 3) Outline the last paragraph of the paper, etc. Sure you already sort of know all of the steps but writing them down into reasonable chunks and then checking them off when you do them is a huge stress reliever. You get to see everything you have to do and then get to see your progress. Again, sounds simple but do it consistently and you will see how much less stressful school tasks can be.

4. Take Time 4 Yourself

I’m not going to tell you to stop watching videos of puppies and delete your social media accounts to relieve stress because that would be, well….stressful! In order to manage your life you need to take time for yourself and do the things you enjoy. But here’s the thing, you can plan for these things to make them seem like more of a part of your life instead of constant distractions. When you get home from school tell yourself that you’re going to take 30 minutes just to do whatever you want to do. It can be watching TV, texting your friends, going outside, sitting and staring blankly at a wall…whatever makes you happy and relaxed. Do it and enjoy it without guilt. But when those 30 minutes are up, get back to whatever you need to do until your next break. I know time management can sound like it might be stressful but it’s really just being organized and managing your precious free time smartly. You’ll see that you actually do have time for everything and may even find that you have time leftover to do ever more of what you love. Trust me, it works.

So there you have it. Four easy things to do to BEAT stress. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. You tell me what you do to manage your stress. Share it with other teens and share it with me! We all lead crazy stressed out lives but by being aware of yourself and your time and body and energy you can go a long way to managing stress, as a teen and forever.

Trying 2 Practice What I Preach (The Good, Bad & Ugly)

crying eye

Hi guys!

Sorry I’ve been absent from the blogging world for awhile but my parents are 82 and 88 years old and last week they were BOTH admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. I don’t live in the same state as them so I quickly packed up my bags and headed home where I immediately entered a very stressful, emotional and exhausting situation. I’m happy to report that they are both now home and slowly recovering but what I really wanted to share was my real world examples how hard it can be to put all these secrets and tools into action when you really need them.

To deal with an emotional crisis, where a crisis really can be anything that’s getting you very upset, my advice has been to sit with the emotions, to feel the emotions, to meditate and to try to stay in the present moment or the Now. In particular, staying in the present moment or the “Now” has always stood out to me as one of the most important tools. Basically it’s not worrying about the past or the future and not letting yourself imagine some worst-case scenarios that your mind starts to believe. It’s just staying where you are and dealing with what you know.

I’m here to tell you that it was really really really hard to practice what I preach but I’m also here to tell you why that’s ok.

Staying in the Now when your parents are both sick is really tough. Your mind starts to imagine the worst. You worry about what tomorrow will bring. You worry about what you will do if one of them should die. You wonder if they will get sicker. You even start planning funerals in your head. I know you don’t need more examples of the crazy and upsetting stuff I was thinking (and I know you have your own upsetting stuff to deal with) but suffice it to say, my mind was a whirling mess of worst-case painful scenarios. Even while I was doing this though, deep down I knew I had the tools I needed and I knew what I needed to do to stop. That’s where the work comes in and where the rubber meets the road as they say.

Let’s face it. It’s easy to say “Stay in the Now!” when nothing is wrong. It’s easy to say “You need to meditate.” when you can’t even take a deep breath. It’s easy to say “Don’t listen to your little voice.” when your little voice is screaming, crying and taking up all the space in your head. The good thing is that just trying to remember and use these tools and secrets immediately helps you feel just a little better. Trying to use them also makes them easier to find and use the next time.

Knowing that I needed to stop and breathe forced me to do it. Knowing that I needed to stop imagining the worst made me slow down and at least try to stay in the present moment. Knowing that I needed to meditate made me at least close my eyes for a moment to try to take a short mental break.

Was I successful at this all the time? Ha! That’s funny! Absolutely not. But, it helped a little bit and I know next time it will help a little more.  The same goes for you. These tools can start to help you even if you just know that they’re out there and you remind yourself to at least try to use them.

So breathe, meditate, silence your little voice and try stay in the present moment.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.




straw ego

The human ego prefers anything, just about anything, to falling, or changing, or dying. The ego is that part of you that loves the status quo – even when it’s not working. It attaches to past and present and fears the future.

– Richard Rohr

I love this quote because it reminds us that the ego is the little part of you that doesn’t want to change.

Listen to the chatter of your little voice as an example of this. Your little voice/ego is always looking backwards and reliving the past or imagining the future. It imagines both good and bad outcomes for the future but even those imagined outcomes are based on your own past experiences. I mean, let’s be honest here. Unless you can actually see into the future, you have no idea what the future holds and yet our egos like to spend time there.

For some reason, the ego just cannot stand being in the present moment. It feels vulnerable. Unsafe. Unsure. It becomes threatened by who you really are…by your True Self.

So, once again, we come back to awareness and present moment awareness as ego squishing tools.

Take a minute. Heck, take 30 seconds. Oh hell, take ONE SECOND. Seriously, take just one second and be aware. Be aware of your breath. Be aware of your inhale and the moment between that and your exhale. In just that one second you start to quiet your ego. In just one second, you start to become more of your True Self. Breathe.


cold breath
Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.
      ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Fine For Now

fine for now

One of the nicest things about being in the Now or the present moment is that for that very moment, that one breath, that millisecond – you’re fine.

In that one moment you just are.

You are you.

And you’re fine for now.

The more you practice this, the more addicting it becomes. It’s like a mini-vacation for your mind.

So just stop.


Feel your breath filling up your lungs.

Feel it leaving you.

See, you’re just fine for now.