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"Dear Sherry" Opinion and Advice Column

If there is something you are struggling with and you would like to hear my thoughts, I would love to hear from you! 

I will respond in written format to you personally within one week. Using a tag name for anonymity, your question and my response will also be posted on my social media platforms and on this website to assist others who may be looking for the same information.   

You can describe a problem you have, ask a question, or both! I look forward to helping you.

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How Do I Get Over A Decision I Made Out Of Fear? 

DEAR SHERRY:

When I was 30, I chose to have an abortion. I made this decision out of fear - fear of being in an unhealthy marriage or being a single mom, fear of being rejected or shamed by family, friends, society in general, and all the other fears that come with an unplanned pregnancy. I was healthy and (fairly) financially stable. It is entirely possible that I would have come to the same decision if I made my choice out of love, but knowing the anger and sadness that motivated me to have the abortion gives me pause.

I cannot say I regret the decision, as I am sure the life that I love and have today would not exist had I made the choice to have that baby. I thought that with time and children of my own the pain of not knowing my first child would subside, but I find myself increasingly wondering who that child would be and try to insert him into what my life is like today.

My question is two fold: 1) I know I will always think about that child, but is it possible to move past the pain of knowing I made a life-altering fear-based decision? 2) Is there any wisdom or reading you can impart about what happens to the souls of aborted babies? When I search for this I only find sides of the political debate or religious dogma.

Thank You!


DEAR HARD ON YOURSELF:

I am so sorry that you are hurting so much over this decision.

Yes, it is pos​sible to move past your pain. As with any loss it is important to move through the 5 stages of loss; denial, bargaining, anger, grief, and acceptance. We weave in and out of theses stages until we ultimately end up at acceptance. We never forget, it is like a scar, we remember what happened, but we no longer experience the pain of the gaping wound.

It sounds like you are stuck in bargaining, when you speak of wishing you made this decision out of love versus fear. Bargaining is wishing we did something different to somehow prevent the outcome. We hold on to this to protect ourselves from our grief. This may be preventing you from moving forward. It is natural to wonder what your child would be like and imagine your life with them in it. Take the time to honor your feelings, whatever they are, when they surface. If you feel sad, cry. If you feel angry express that, it will help you to move through the loss.

It would be ideal if every decision we made was out of love, but the reality is sometimes we make decisions out of fear. We are human and we learn, grow and connect to ourselves more, through every experience we have. Beating ourselves up never makes it better. In order to forgive yourself I think it could also be helpful to look at this from a deeper perspective and perhaps you can have some compassion for yourself.

Ask yourself and write down all of your thoughts about this experience. Then write down all of your feelings. After that, ask yourself if this circumstance is familiar in any way? Did those responsible for you make decisions that negatively altered your life. Perhaps you need to explore that and forgive that person and then you can forgive yourself for making this choice.

To address your second question, "Your Souls Gift, The healing power of the life you planned before you were born" by Robert Schwartz is a great book that addresses what happens to the souls of aborted babies. He explains that the soul is not present during an abortion, as it does not fully reside in the body until birth. He also says that the soul of the baby is in agreement with this decision and will chose to come into your life at a different time or take another path. I am hopeful this information will give you a different perspective about your decision and help your heart to heal.

Sending lots of love and a big comforting hug,

SHERRY

What Should I Do When My Kids Compare What They Have With Others? 

DEAR SHERRY:

My kids are constantly comparing what they have with what others have. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Thank you!

AT MY WITS END

DEAR AT MY WITS END:

I can hear them now, “Mom, so and so has a pool, why can’t we have one”? “I want a dog; we are the only family that doesn’t have one!” “My friends get to stay out later; why can’t I?” “Everyone else has a phone; why can’t I get one?”

Although it could be annoying, I think it is natural to compare. Even as an adult, at times, I compare myself to others. We see what someone else has, and often we want it too. It may invoke a feeling of insecurity or jealousy as well.

I would engage your child in a conversation. Ask them questions and try to get a good idea about why it is important to them and what might be coming up for them. Ask why is it important to you to have that or do that?

Use it as an opportunity to discuss important topics like a desire to fit in, self-esteem, working hard for something you want, and the fact that all families have different circumstances.

Different things come up for a parent when their child compares what they have with others. Ask yourself what is coming up for you? Perhaps you grew up without a lot, so you might feel guilty that you can’t afford to get your child all the things they want. Or you might think your child is selfish and entitled because they have so much already. You might also feel pressured to work harder to get them the things others have.

If you understand what is coming up for you and work through your own feelings, it will help you to be open, compassionate, and patient with your child. You will then be able to do what feels suitable for both you and your children.

Remember, all of our circumstances are different. It isn’t important to “keep up with the Jones,” and the most important thing your child needs is your love and understanding.

Wishing you and your family everything in your highest good!

 SHERRY

How Do I Go Through A Transition Without Losing My Mind? 

DEAR SHERRY:

How can I go through a transition without losing my mind?

TROUBLE WITH TRANSITIONS

DEAR TROUBLE WITH TRANSITIONS:

The first thing to do is accept that transitions are difficult. You aren’t where you once were, which was safe, simply because it was familiar. You aren’t entirely in the new place and haven’t acclimated, making it feel scary and unsafe.

It is important to understand that life transitions such as moving, getting married, having a baby, starting a new job, or retiring are all considered “life crises.” Even though these experiences are often wonderful times in our lives, they can be challenging because they are significant changes and can bring up many emotions. Take time to process your feelings. These are tremendous opportunities for emotional and spiritual growth.

Furthermore, when we are transitioning, it can be tough to stay grounded because there is so much happening. When we have a lot going on, we can feel overwhelmed. These periods can also bring us back to other times when we felt ungrounded in our lives. Take time to process these events from the past. You are being reminded of them because they are coming up for healing.

Additionally, it is essential not to make any other major life decisions during a transition. Try and avoid adding anything extra to your plate. Give yourself the time and space to adjust.

It can also be helpful to ask yourself what other transitions you have gone through that went well or that you made it through even though it was hard. This will help you to feel more positive and confident during this transition.

Self-care is critical as well during times of transition. When we are busy, that goes by the wayside, but it further prevents us from centering ourselves and getting through the transition with greater ease.

A final thought I have refers to times when we don’t know where we are transitioning. If you are trying to make a positive change in your life, trust the process and look for signs along the way to guide you. Try to slow down and pay attention; do not make decisions too quickly out of fear. We all have innate wisdom. Trust your inner guidance system. If the answer isn’t clear, then wait.

Wishing you peace and enlightenment along your journey!

 SHERRY

How Do I Set Boundaries With My Teen?

DEAR SHERRY:

Do you have any tips for setting boundaries with teens?

Thank you!

SETTING BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR TEEN

DEAR SETTING BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR TEEN :

From the moment our children are born, we are slowly letting go to teach them to fly on their own.

It is essential for adolescents to branch out and make mistakes, and at the same time, they need to know we are providing them with a sense of security at home. We do this through setting limits, being there for them, and loving them unconditionally, no matter what they do.

My thoughts are:

BE CLEAR WITH EXPECTATIONS AND CONSEQUENCES

It is essential to set clear expectations with resulting consequences for your teen. For example, if your teen misses their curfew, a logical consequence would be not to go out the next night. Another example is, if your teen doesn't do their homework, the natural consequence is they will likely get a poor grade on their test.

BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND CONSEQUENCES

Kids are more likely to try and break the rules if they know you aren't consistent. If it is your teen's job to empty the dishwasher every day, but you do it half the time, they won't remember to do it.

Going back to the curfew example, if you do not set a consistent consequence when they are late, they are more likely to be late again, because there is a chance they can get away with it.

BE REALISTIC ABOUT YOUR TEENS BEHAVIOR

Teens are supposed to push boundaries; it is part of the developmental stage. Also, their brains aren't thoroughly developed, so it is not uncommon for them to act impulsively.

BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU MODEL

Most of what your kids learn from you, is through observation. I don't always appreciate how my teen talks to me, and I sometimes realize I talk that way to them.

BE CALM AND SUPPORTIVE

Kids will make mistakes; they aren't born with life skills; it is our job to teach them. They will make many mistakes, just like us; we are all constantly learning.

Remember, it never helps anyone to get "beat up" when they make a mistake. It creates fear and insecurity, which makes someone more likely to make more mistakes. Ask your teen how you could support them in making better choices.

Ask them what kind of life they want for themselves and if their behavior aligns with what they want? It is crucial to help them to learn to be internally motivated to engage in responsible and respectful behavior toward themselves and others.

As hard as it is to be a teenager, it can be even harder to be the parent of one!

Wishing you strength and patience!

SHERRY

How Do I Handle Social Situations When People Aren't Wearing A Mask?

DEAR SHERRY:

How do I socially handle it with grace when people who are not vaccinated and not wearing masks sit next to me?

RESPECTING MY HEALTH

DEAR RESPECTING MY HEALTH:

Great question! I have some thoughts about your question and the Covid pandemic in general.

I believe Covid has brought the opportunity for a significant transformation in our world, to heal from our deepest fears that have been lying dormant since childhood.

When the covid pandemic began, so many people felt so vulnerable. People became afraid that they would get sick or get someone else ill, uncertain about what would happen, and many experienced feeling lonely and isolated. So many people are still feeling so vulnerable.

This period in time is taking us all back to the most vulnerable insecure times in our childhoods when we were scared and couldn't control things in our environment.

So although it may be prudent to take safety measures, many people are experiencing a heightened fear response because it brings them back to other times in their life that are mirroring similar emotions or circumstances.

I encourage people to explore this fear response within themselves; it will help them get back to living and feeling safer.

As for your question, the reality is, no matter what the mandate is in each state, some people who are vaccinated still wear masks, and some people that aren't don't wear masks.

Everyone has different viewpoints about wearing masks because we all have had different life experiences that shape us. Again that can be bringing up strong reactions to the pandemic and the mandate to wear masks as well.

We can't judge how each other handles the pandemic, whether we think someone is too cautious or not cautious enough because we haven't walked a mile in their shoes.

The best thing we can do is take care of ourselves in the best way we know-how.

I do not recommend telling others to put on a mask. It is a lot easier to control yourself than it is to try and control someone else.

My recommendation would be, if you learn that someone isn't vaccinated and you feel uncomfortable in their presence, politely say, "I am sorry, but I feel uncomfortable being around people that aren't vaccinated because I am afraid of getting Covid. So I am going to excuse myself. I hope you understand."

You are open, honest, non-judgmental, and taking care of yourself. If someone takes offense, that has to do with their issues.

I hope this post helps people to understand and have compassion for themselves and others.

With love and gratitude,

SHERRY

How Does An Em​path Cope?

DEAR SHERRY:

As an empath, I find it very hard to separate the hurt and sadness I feel for other people so that it doesn't affect my own life in a very big way. Sometimes I feel like other people's sadness becomes my own. If a friend is not ok, I am not ok. Do you have any strategies for helping an empath cope?

Thank you!

EMPATH

DEAR EMPATH:

I am sorry you are struggling with this. When I first became a therapist, I almost quit. All of the feelings that came up in me when I listened to people's problems were so overwhelming that I couldn't function.

I soon learned that the world is a mirror to my soul. Buried feelings were coming up in me that I couldn't deal with earlier in my life.

I believe these circumstances bring up feelings in you from the past that you have not processed yet. To help yourself not to take on other people's feelings, I would ask yourself these questions:

How is their circumstance similar to something you have experienced?

What feelings are coming up for you? Perhaps you feel helpless, lonely, discouraged?

When might you have felt this way before?

What do you think about their problem? Perhaps you think they will never feel better?

When have you thought this way before?

Sit and journal. As you connect to yourself and process your feelings, you will stay more centered and grounded. Then their problems won't become yours, and the light inside you will help light up the world!

I am sending light your way!

Love,

SHERRY

How To Stay Grounded During Re-Entry?

DEAR SHERRY:

I got used to things being quieter this past year and a half. I was never a fan of crowded places, and as more things start to open, I would love some tips for not being overwhelmed and to help me stay grounded.

UNGROUNDED

DEAR UNGROUNDED:

I have heard quite a bit that people have gotten used to things being quieter and that they even quite enjoy a slower pace in life.

Being in a crowd can be overstimulating for the nervous system and can cause someone to feel out of control because there are too many stimuli to process.

Some tips I have for staying grounded are:

BALANCE-

Even though the world has opened back up, it is essential to balance going out and being home and slowing down.

Being quiet and sitting with ourselves is so crucial for optimal physical and mental health. Imagine if you put gas in your car and just kept driving? Eventually, it would run out of gas and break down. You need to stop and refuel for the vehicle to run well. We need to refuel as well, and one of the ways we do that is through resting.

SEEK TO UNDERSTAND-

As I said, being in a crowd can cause someone to feel out of control. You might want to ask yourself, what other times have I felt out of control and couldn’t process everything that was happening? We all have painful or traumatic experiences that cause our limbic system, the emotional center in our brain, to become overwhelmed, and then our pre-frontal cortex, the part of our brain that helps us to think clearly, goes off-line. When we can’t think clearly, we become ungrounded.

If you spend some time thinking about and processing these past experiences, it can help ground and center yourself, making it easier to be in a crowd. Speaking to a counselor could be beneficial if it feels too scary to explore these experiences on your own.

TAKE A MOMENT-

If you find you become ungrounded when you are out, take a sip of water, follow your breath in and out a few times, and tell yourself that you are safe. All of these things can help to ground you and bring you back to the present moment.

Wishing you a peaceful re-entry!

SHERRY

How To Support A Daughter Moving Away From Home?

DEAR SHERRY:  

My 23-year-old daughter is moving across the Country. She is excited to be on her own and have her first apartment but I can't help being sad. What is the best way to support her in this transition? Should I be honest with her about my sadness or is it better to pretend to be excited for her sake?

HARD TO LET GO



DEAR HARD TO LET GO:

It is so hard when someone you love moves far away. I feel so sad when people I love move away, it is a big loss and it takes time to process the many feelings it can bring up.

As a parent, you devote your life to raising your child, only to give them wings to fly. It can feel like it’s a cruel joke when they tell you they are moving away.

I would recommend being honest with her and letting her know you are sad and that you will miss her being here. At the same time, I would make sure not to discourage her from leaving or make her feel responsible for your sad feelings. Let her know you just need time to adjust to this big news.

Give yourself permission to process this loss. Things just won’t be the same. You can’t go for a walk with her, or shopping, or to get your nails done, or out to eat. Things will be different, but you can still connect and see her beautiful face through the internet, which is a blessing. When you see her in person, it can be even more special.

Besides the “surface” loss, there can be a “deeper” loss here as well. Everyone in our life represents something to us. Someone might represent adventure, joy, security, companionship, self-esteem. When they leave, it leaves a void that we need to now find in ourselves, or in another way.

For example, I have an old friend who is moving, and I didn’t even realize it, but growing up he represented security for me. Even though it is 35 years later, his move is bringing up emotions from the past that I had never dealt with. I never had to deal with these emotions because he has always been here and a source of security, just by his presence alone. As I work through these emotions, it allows me to reclaim a part of myself that was buried within me, which feels great!

I would try and share in your daughter's joy even though it is difficult for you. The more you process your own feelings, the more you can truly be happy for her and the new life she is creating.

Big hugs,

SHERRY

How To Support A Friend During A Difficult Time?

DEAR SHERRY:  I have a friend who is in an unhealthy relationship. She has made the mistake of sharing some of the hurtful and emotionally abusive things her "on-again-off-again" boyfriend has done. It is really difficult to sit by and support her going back to him again and again after her confiding in me how bad he is for her. What can/should I do? 

Sincerely,

CONCERNED


DEAR CONCERNED:  I know sometimes it can be hard to support a friend when they are making choices that are not in their best interest. The reality is, it can take going back and forth many times before someone ultimately leaves an emotionally abusive relationship. There are many reasons people stay in unhealthy relationships. These patterns are usually deep-rooted in dynamics from one's family of origin and require therapy to break free from them.

I may ask your friend why she keeps going back? She may be afraid to be alone or she may not feel good about herself and believe on some level that she deserves to be treated that way.

I would also ask yourself what comes up for you when she keeps going back? It sounds like you are investing a lot emotionally, listening, and perhaps advising her. Perhaps you feel like you have no control over the situation? It could be reminding you of another situation that you invested a lot of time in that you couldn't change?

If you find that it is too hard for you to listen to stories about her being mistreated, I would just be honest, and let her know that. Only listen when you are in the space to do so; it is important to be aware of your own needs and limitations.

The reality is, we can't change other people and that might bring up feelings of helplessness. We can't truly understand or judge someone's situation unless we walk a mile in their moccasins. If you deal with your own emotions, that may help you to listen with an open heart and just be there for her.

With Love,

SHERRY 

Should I Let This Relationship Go?

DEAR SHERRY:  I am in a long-term relationship which is in its 12th year. I have various moments throughout the relationship that made me wonder if I was with the wrong person. This feeling is becoming stronger and stronger during the past 6 months or so after I landed a new job, but he is still struggling with his job/career, plus being together 24/7 in a one-bedroom apartment in NYC is not helping the situation. I feel that we have drifted apart and became two different persons vs. at the beginning of the relationship 12 years ago while we were just graduate students. My struggle is that I know I should let this relationship go now (can't drag along another 12 years like this), but I am also afraid if it's a wrong call. Dear Sherry, can you please help me? (1) What is the sign(s) of when I should let go of a wrong relationship, especially when it's a 12 years long relationship? (2) How to break up with a guy you have been with for 12 years? How to stay strong after that?

Sincerely,

SCARED AND CONFUSED

DEAR SCARED AND CONFUSED:  How does someone truly know if they are with the wrong person? That can be complicated. The most important relationship is our relationship with ourselves. We all have an innate knowing, and the more we are connected to ourselves, the easier it is to access our truth.

Relationships take work. Whether it is the relationship with yourself or a significant other, you will drift from that person and yourself if you don't tend to it.

We grow and learn about ourselves through every relationship we have, especially our intimate ones. Keep in mind that we can tend to follow patterns in relationships. The problems you see in this relationship may happen in your next one unless you make some changes. The things that bother you about a person you are in a relationship with are often a reflection of a part of you that may be hard for you to acknowledge.

What comes up for you in any relationship, especially a relationship with a significant other, provides you with an opportunity to deepen your relationship with yourself through self-reflection.

Whether you choose to stay or not, it is important to take an action step to cultivate the relationship or to end things. As you said, you can end up being in the same position 12 years from now.

You may want to ask yourself, do I have a desire to work on this relationship? Have I given it my all? Perhaps you may find it helpful to write a list of why you think this is the wrong person for you? You can then see if you have any similar characteristics in yourself that you need to work on.

You may not be confused at all, just scared. I believe we can live life in faith or fear. If we make decisions based on fear, we won't be truly happy and end up creating more of what we don't want. Any steps we take in faith lead to more opportunities and greater fulfillment. Trust that.

If you decide to end things, I would be honest and compassionate. That will help you both to grow and evolve. Take time to process your feelings and grieve the relationship. Ask yourself what you learned about yourself and what you want in a relationship, and keep that in mind when you start a new one.

There will be moments where you have doubt, and it will be hard to stick to your decision; that is just fear creeping in. Work through your fears and keep moving forward. You deserve to be happy!

With love and light,

SHERRY

Worried About Daughter's Symptoms

DEAR SHERRY: I'm concerned about my teenage daughter's mental health since she has been learning virtually all these months. She recently developed a tic. It looks like Tourette's syndrome. Suddenly out of nowhere, she will shudder loudly as if she just caught a cold breeze. Sometimes she jerks her head and neck too. At first, I thought it was for attention, but now I can see that it's involuntary, and she can't help it. It seems to get worse when she's stressed about schoolwork or when she's out with friends, which is very little these days.

Should I worry about this new symptom? Is there something I can do to help her deal with it, or should I just ignore it? Will it go away eventually?

Sincerely,

WORRIED

DEAR WORRIED: I am sorry to hear your daughter has developed a tic. I would recommend taking her to the doctor to rule out a medical problem. The Tourette Association of America has a wealth of information and a list of providers in Connecticut. https://tourette.org/find-a-provider/

We can have various reactions to stress. In my experience, this type of reaction isn’t permanent. However, it is important to learn how to regulate your nervous system so that you can bring your body back to equilibrium after a stress response.

The iChill is a free app developed by Elaine Miller, a trauma specialist. It is a great resource to help anyone navigate stress and feel more at peace.

www.ichillapp.com  I hope your daughter feels better soon!  

SHERRY

Uncomfortable About Winning

DEAR SHERRY: I hope you can help me with this. I’m a very good tennis player but when it comes time for a game, I feel so bad if the other team is losing that I will throw the game. It’s not that I’m not competitive - the funny thing is I am! But seeing the other people look sad just gets to me. I wish I could play and win without feeling this way. Thank you!

BAD WINNER

DEAR BAD WINNER: No one likes to see anyone sad, but you aren't doing yourself or your opponents any favors by throwing the game.

Does it sound like this situation may be reminding you of a past experience? You might want to ask yourself if there was a time when you shined at something and you were given a direct or indirect message that it wasn't okay. Perhaps you had a sibling that wasn't as smart as you, so your parents didn't celebrate your achievements in an attempt to spare your sibling's feelings, for example.

Maybe your opponent's sadness is reminding you of a time when you were sad about something. So you might feel uncomfortable being in the presence of someone sad because you don't want to be reminded of your own sad feelings.

In life, we win and lose. Losing helps us to develop character and build resilience. We learn how to pick ourselves up, which helps us trust ourselves and develop a sense of confidence and security. When you rescue someone from their feelings, you inadvertently give them the message they aren't capable of dealing with things.

Be the best you can be; it truly inspires others to do the same!

SHERRY

How Can I Have a Positive Mindset About Money?

DEAR SHERRY: Both of my parents have a poverty mindset. Their parents went through the Great Depression and this impacted their beliefs and my parents' outlook. My parents are much older now and doing very well financially, especially my father (they divorced and remarried others) but their views remain the same. They do not trust wealthy people and are verbally disparaging towards them. How can I change the impact of my parents' ideas about money, on myself, so that I can embrace it in my life? I find I am very self-conscious around wealthy people. - POVERTY MINDSET

DEAR POVERTY MINDSET:  No matter how old we are, there is nothing more important than being loved by our parents.  If your parents don’t trust and judge wealthy people, whether it is conscious, subconscious, or unconscious, if you embrace money in your life, in your mind you will risk losing their love and acceptance. You may have a hard time being yourself around wealthy people because it triggers a lot of emotion in you regarding this. I recommend working through these fears within yourself or having a conversation with your parents so that they can help to alleviate your fears about losing their love. You will then be able to live your life in abundance!

With love and light,

SHERRY

How Can I Handle My Own Emotions When I See My Daughter Struggle?

DEAR SHERRY: I have a teenage daughter whom I love very much and am very close to. The issue that I am having is that I see myself in her so much that it is really hard to separate and not project my fears consciously or unconsciously onto her especially when I see her struggling. When I see her struggle it really brings up all of my childhood pain and rather than go into a positive mindset I go into fear that she won’t be ok. This has heightened during covid time as I see so many teens struggling. I get afraid for her. She doesn’t want my fear and quite understandably will repel from it because I am sure that makes her scared. How do I manage my emotions and fears and work on being the nurturing trusting loving parent that she needs? My mom was a very fearful and aloof mother who was unable to nurture so it’s difficult for me. I find myself getting frustrated with myself.

Sincerely,

FRUSTRATED

DEAR FRUSTRATED:  Being a mom is the hardest job in the world, so first and foremost, it is important to be gentle with yourself. Beating yourself up won’t help you or your daughter.

It is amazing that you already recognize that seeing her struggle brings up pain from your own childhood. Our children are our greatest gifts; they truly teach us more than we teach them. Their struggles and our struggles with them provide us an opportunity to look within ourselves and to heal from our own childhood wounds.

The suggestions I have are endless, so I won’t write them all. Two books immediately come to mind: The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary and You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. These books are excellent guides to help you on your journey within.

Again, be compassionate with yourself and trust the healing process. Accept your feelings that come up; they provide you an opportunity to heal. Journal to help process your emotions, allow your tears to flow. It can also be beneficial to have a therapist support you on your journey.

Practice self-care, whatever that might mean for you. It might be meditation, a bubble bath, walking in nature, etc. The more you love and nurture yourself, the more secure and peaceful you become. You can then navigate any storm in life and be the calming presence your daughter needs.  

With love and light,

SHERRY

How Can I Stay Motivated in School?

DEAR SHERRY: Recently I have found it really hard to stay focused and motivated with my school work. As Covid hit and school became online, I figured it would be easier and more laid back. Throughout each day I have noticed that every day feels the same and I am losing the passion for handing in my school work and wanting to achieve with my classes. I have also noticed with myself that if I am not told to go to class I will simply not go which will hurt me in the long run, but I have been feeling so mentally drained that it doesn’t affect me as much anymore.

With that being said, are there any tips that can help me and other students my age that feel the same way in order to get motivated? Or even methods that can help myself and other students to cope with all the negative thoughts that come along with struggling to maintain a healthy mental state.

Sincerely,

UNMOTIVATED

DEAR UNMOTIVATED: I am sorry that you are struggling. It sounds like you might want to ask yourself what do you want out of life? When we are doing what makes us happy, we are naturally motivated. If our behavior is externally motivated, for example, perhaps to please our parents,s our teachers, our friends, or by the number of likes we get on social media, it is hard to be motivated if there aren't a lot of expectations.

Covid has been very difficult, there has been a lot of loss. At the same time, the world is in a major stage of transformation for the better. All the pressures, prior to Covid, were creating a lot of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse in teens and society as a whole.

Other teens have shared with me that less is expected of them during the pandemic, which can be positive because it is a time for not only teens, but everyone to reevaluate what they want their life to look like.

So, it is important to engage in two vital activities. Firstly, maintain a healthy state of mind. To maintain a healthy mental state it is important to develop a routine and practice daily physical and mental hygiene. Physically, you might want to ensure you are getting proper rest, eating healthy foods, exercising and showering, and getting dressed, even if you have nowhere to go.

Mental hygiene might include journaling about your thoughts and feelings, talking to a trusted adult, writing a list of 5 things you are grateful for every day, listening to uplifting music, or guided meditations. Start slow and build on a routine as you go.

Engaging with friends as much as possible in person, safely, is also highly recommended. We are meant to connect with each other, meaningful connections lift our spirits.

Secondly, focus on your aspirations. I suggest writing a list of all the things that you truly desire in life. Double-check that they are for you, and not for someone else, and then ask yourself what you need to do to get what you want. What you want may be the same as what the adults in your life want for you, but if you have never asked yourself that question, it might be hard to access your internal motivation.

Remember, we all have a guiding light within, and there are better days ahead.

With love and light,

SHERRY

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