Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, speaker for RAINN, writer for The Huffington Post, award-winning health advocate, actress and playwright, eagerly sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, performance, art and speaking. As the writer, director and star of the Gutless & Grateful, her one-woman autobiographical musical, she's toured theaters across the country, earning rave reviews and accolades since it’s BroadwayWorld Award-nominated NYC debut.
For parents and your young adults, because mindfulness is something we can all benefit from.
Is there a way to alleviate some of the stress our young adults face every day?
We can start by helping them to be present. Once we teach them the power of “presence”, they can truly experience the power of their full potential.
Why? Creativity, connection, soul, inspiration and intuition are available only in the present moment and for the present moment.
The most important thing for a college student or young adult to know? Staying present is the best way to deal with stress. Stress, anxiety, can make us feel like we’re entirely alone in our struggles. College, especially, can be a breeding ground for stress – a turning point in our lives where we’re independent, perhaps for the first time.
Doors become open to us that we never even knew existed. We realize we have the power to make choices, which can be equal parts empowering and frightening.
The Gifts of Being Present
When your young adult is making their way through a crowded lecture hall, inundated with assignments, and worried about what to wear to a party that night, rarely do they have “being in the moment” on their mind.
Teach your child that being present is a choice. You have to actively choose to take part of that moment. Only when you fall into that moment can you access the energies, wisdom and guidance available to you in that moment.
Even better, that wisdom, embedded in your creativity and presence, is coming from YOU. You just needed to be there in order to soak it in. This is the creativity that will allow your child to come back to their schoolwork refreshed with new, innovative and passionate ideas.
In contrast to term papers piling up , the task of being present is surprisingly simple:
- Wake up and realize you the gift of being present.
- Push past the fear of being present.
- Soak in the gifts of being present.
- Rinse, repeat.
Tell your child they an do these steps in their dorm, in the hallway, at the cafeteria, or even with a friend.
You Won't Be Present All The Time
This exercise is a good reminder to “check back in” after you’ve zoned out for a bit. It’s okay if your son or daughter needs a break from “mindfulness” and would rather mindlessly browse through Facebook feeds. The wonderful thing about learning how to be present, is it's a skill that is easily accessible from anywhere, any time.
Baby Steps to Being Present are Big Steps to Being Happy
Your child will succeed in a project their passionate about pursuing. Help them find that passion by helping the discover what makes the happy. Here are small steps both you and your child can take to learning to be in the moment again:
- Value the being, not the doing.
- Awareness is the key to all change. Don’t worry about how you’re going to “fix” this, just be aware that you’re looking to change.
- List any coping behaviors you have in your life that take you out of the present moment.
- Find one moment a day where you choose to be “uncomfortable”. For one moment, be aware of a coping mechanism you’re acting on, plant your feet, and just breathe.
- Take baby steps. You don’t want to feel uncomfortable for every second of the day, but you just have to push yourself through a little bit of it just to know that you can get through it.
How to Interrupt Being “Mindless”
Granted, your child is going to want to zone out for a bit, play some video games, or follow a few twitter accounts for a break from academia. What else can you do to tap into the moment when you’ve spent time “checking out?”
- Physically interrupt it with sensation – run your hands under hot water.
- Use your voice. Say something out loud.
- Look up right brain and left brain exercises and do one of each.
If you aren't present, you can't make decisions. If you can't make your own decisions, the world is a scary place.
Learning to be present is hard work. It’s not always so much fun. It’s a daily practice that we need to work up to, especially when we’ve been used to staying numb to deal with a difficult time in our lives. In college, if our children learn to love “being in the moment,” they will be less susceptible to behaviors that numb in unhealthy ways, like alcohol or drug abuse.
Being in the moment can be boring.
Think of it as an investment that won't always thrill every time. You might be ready to plant your feet, take a deep breath and feel your feelings, expecting a whole spiritual rebirth, but nothing happened. Breathing and being “present” can also just be boring.
Being in the moment can make you want to give up.
Being mindful may strike a nerve for your child. It may actually make them face an emotion they’ve been running from. It may discourage them from wanting to be present, when they’d rather not think about a bad day at school, or a fight with a friend.
But don’t give up. Keep going. You don’t always have to force yourself to be present. GO easy on yourself. Healing from ANYTHING is hard work.
The Only Rule of Healing That You Need to Know:
The only thing you’re required to do? Stay curious. Stay open. Stay wondering…you never know what gifts the present moment may bring.
Here's an affirmation for you and your young adult children:
I trust that whatever decision I make in this moment is best, because I made it. I trust my decision with confidence, self-love and presence. I am capable of making decisions.
Take a breath with this thought in mind. Once your young adult is mindful, they can make powerful decisions in life that can turn any obstacle into an opportunity and help them lead happy, healthy, balances lives. Being mindful is a tool they can take wherever they go.