Each year, we join our family and friends to celebrate the holiday season. For some of us, this can be stressful. Too much time around triggers and not enough time practicing self-care can lead to burnout. This is especially true for teens.
We love the holidays for all sorts of reasons. But some are not as good for us. Seasonal traditions sometimes involve activities that can be less than supportive of mental health and a peaceful state of mind. Late nights, overindulgence, and extended time with family (no matter how much you love them) can all put stress on a healthy lifestyle—particularly if you’re still in the process of forming those positive habits.
This year, we encourage you to slow down, take some deep breaths, and remember what it means to thrive. Connect to those you love, light a holiday candle, and ignite the spark of gratitude.
Kids need extra support, which means you must practice self-care. Furthermore, the more you take care of yourself, the happier everyone is! Teen mental health is deeply connected to adult mental health.
We asked a few of our faculty and staff members at Newport Academy what they love to do at this time of year to bolster their serenity and keep them balanced. We hope they’ll inspire you to create new holiday rituals that support you in being your best and happiest self!
Teen Mental Health, Holiday Rituals, and Wisdom from the Team
“The holidays can be a great time to connect. We tend to get caught up in the gift-giving materialism of it all but the truth is, this time is about being with our families, and perhaps more importantly, being with ourselves. Seek connection. Meditation and mindfulness practice are great ways to get into the moment and engage in self-care. When we are in the moment we aren’t worried about what is going on around us. When we tune in and breathe, we can be truly present. ” —Jamison Monroe, Jr., CEO and Founder
“This is such a great time of the year to practice gratitude. Whenever you’re gathered with family or people you love, do a gratitude exercise together, like going around the table and having each person say what they’re grateful for. I also like to use gift giving as an opportunity to practice gratitude, by taking the time to tell that person what they mean to me and what the past year has meant to me.” —Heather Senior Monroe, MSW, LCSW, Senior Clinician
“Each year, during the holiday season, I take time to truly unplug, find adventure, and be with my family. I especially love to do this in the great outdoors. We take hikes, cross-country ski, and enjoy the beauty of wintertime. This time always means a great deal to me. Fresh air, moving our bodies, and enjoying nature is a deeply powerful way to connect with those we love. On top of this, the gift of experience is something more meaningful to my family. Focusing on stuff can make everyone a bit nutty during the holidays. But when you step outside, you can leave that behind and just be present.” —Tim Walsh, Director of Experiential Learning
“Sing! Singing is really good for our immune system and limbic system. It decreases stress hormone production dramatically, so sing Christmas carols! You only get one month a year to sing them!” —Tim Ringgold, Music Therapist
“During December and in preparation for New Year’s, I begin to think about all the things that I want to let go of. I reflect on the past year and appreciate all the ways I have grown. Then I write down on separate pieces of paper the things I am ready to let go. On New Year’s Eve, I create a sacred space around a fire and, one by one, throw the wadded papers into the flames. There is something magical and transformative about this yearly ritual. I then set intentions for what I want to call in, and imagine them coming to fruition. It is a great way to honor the ending of the year and new beginning of the coming year.” —Marcie Beasley, MA, LMFT