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Navigating the Digital Age: A Holistic Approach to Teen Mental Health
Episode 5 • 3rd May 2024 • The You World Order Showcase Podcast • Jill
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Keri Cooper, author and therapist, joins us to discuss navigating the digital age with a holistic approach to teen mental health. We chat about specific activities that can improve your teen's mental health.

You can find her books: Mental Health Uncensored - 10 Foundations Every Parent Needs to Know and Mental Health Uncensored Teen Workbook: 10 Foundations Every Teen Needs To Know

on her website: https://kericooperholistictherapy.com/

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Jill Hart - the Coach's Alchemist & host of the You World Order Showcase Podcast is dedicated to empowering life, health and transformational coaches being the change they want to see in the world. Join our private community, where you will find support, networking & collaboration, get featured on our podcast and we also provide coaching to help you find clients with podcasts. It all starts with joining our community! (it's free)

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Transcripts

Hi and welcome to the You World Order Showcase podcast. Today we have with us Keri Cooper. Keri is a holistic coach & therapist providing the tools teens need to navigate life and she's the author of two books.

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Mental health uncensored 10 foundations Every parent needs to know and also mental health uncensored A Teen Workbook - 10 Foundations every Teen Needs to Know .

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Hope I got those all in there.

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They're written them in special spots. Welcome to the show, Keri. I'm really excited to talk to you about this super important topic. Whether you're a parent of teens, whether you're a parent of young kids.

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Whether you're just a person out there.

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Wanting to know what you can do to improve your own mental health, I think this conversation with Kerry is going to just really help everyone. So.

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Thank you. Thank you so much. Yeah, I'm excited to tell everybody that.

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There are simple steps that everybody could be taking to improve their mental health.

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Yeah. And it just.

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We were talking before the show about how many teens are just like the teen suicide rate is off the charts right now, and it has been for like the last 10 years and something changed where kids to just like, not able to cope, navigate. Do you have some thoughts on that?

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Yeah, I have a lot of thoughts on that. Yeah, it's interesting that you say around 10 years ago, you're absolutely correct. I've been in the field for.

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20 years.

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And I have seen a massive shift of what is happening with.

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Kids and 10 years ago is when we introduced social media to the world and I'm not going to blame social media on all of the problems, but I'm going to actually lay a lot of blame on it. That's when you see saw a massive spike in anxiety and depression.

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And if you think about it, how can you not? Kids are now glued to devices looking at everybody else's, you know, filtered picture. Perfect life that isn't real. They think they can't add up to that. They think that they're falling behind. They can't compete.

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You know everything is filmed. You make one mistake. It's going to be out there for life.

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That's a lot of pressure on these kids.

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That's a lot of pressure. I can't imagine growing up seeing what all my peers were achieving and that they were, you know, at this party. And I wasn't. That's just so stressful and it's stressful for adults, too. Adults are definitely getting sucked into this as well. And the other piece of that is when you constantly have information at your hand.

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You see the world as a much scarier place because you're being bombarded many times with bad news. It used to be back in the day we'd sit down and watch the 6:00 news and you'd see you'd see it for an hour. You're seeing it constantly, so you've also now developed a lot of fear in parents, which has now also gone down to their children.

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So I I definitely think social media is a huge piece of this.

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People don't really know how to use the filters on social media in order to curate their content to be.

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Uplifting and pleasant for them. And there's this fear. You know, if I block somebody, I might miss out. Well, you know, if they're not adding to your life, I'm out.

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Yes, right. Well, that goes to boundaries and you're allowed to take care of yourself and cut people out and block people and not have that influence you absolutely.

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Now so I know that.

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COVID really like added fuel to the fire, so you want to talk about how that?

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Yeah. So we were already approaching a mental health crisis with teens prior to COVID and anybody who is hanging on by a thread was completely kicked off the ledge during COVID.

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I mean, you took away every norm from these kids.

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And everyone kept on saying kids are resilient, kids are resilient. No, they're not. That's just something we kept on saying, and I'm not sure why kids are not resilient. They were suffering, they were grieving, and nobody was really sitting down with them saying we know you have lost XY and Z. We know this is hard. We know you're grieving and they're still grieving.

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So, I mean, adults are still grieving this. This was really this is a global pandemic that nobody had any control over. How do you spike someone?

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Reality make them have no control over a situation. Take away everything they know to be as normal. Of course we're going to see really high levels of anxiety happen, so it was during that time that I mean, every therapist, virtual office at that point was filled. And parents are just calling, crying and their kids are not coming out of their rooms and their kids are now nocturnal and.

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Their kids just have no joy.

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And that's why I actually wrote the book, because I needed to get information into parents hands ASAP on here are some things you can do and you know, you mentioned earlier. I'm a holistic psychotherapist. I'm a huge believer in that. If we create good foundations, especially for our physical being.

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Our mental health is not such an uphill battle, and that's for everybody.

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If your physical being, if your daily habits.

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Are not healthy you. It's going to be such a struggle to achieve good mental health. So in my book, I really break it down into why being hydrated is important. Everyone like overlooks water. It is the most basic simple step. And we have research behind it now that shows if you're not hydrated, you might get angrier. Much easier.

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You might not be able to focus.

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So it's these simple things that we could start putting into place to make ourselves feel better.

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Yeah. As I sit here looking at my water.

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I water is.

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I have mine too.

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It's an electrical electric.

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Magnetic electrical. Magnetic conductor. It it helps all of the electrical processes and we are all.

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It is what we are. We are a bunch of electrical processes happening all the time and the.

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When you don't, when you're not hydrated, it's like trying to run an automobile without oil. Everything just starts sticking and you, you can't think properly and.

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And if you've got energy moving in your system, you're going to have other things that are happening to you that.

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You really just need to drink that water when your physical or your massage therapist says, you know, go home and drink a bunch of.

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Water. They're talking about a whole bunch more water than you would normally drink because your body is moving stuff and it needs. It needs fluid to get it going.

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Yeah, it's so basic. And when we talk about it, people go. Yeah, of course that makes sense. But, you know, when I trained to be a therapist, nobody ever said to me, make sure your clients are drinking water.

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When I go to the doctor, no one's asking me and how much water are you drinking? They're asking me. Do you smoke? Do you drink? No one's saying. But do you drink water?

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And that's that's like.

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The this is the the foundational thing. When once you reach about two or three years old, your primary.

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Fluid that you intake should be water, not milk. Yeah, and I I actually learned that old when. When the first of my kids were really young, which was like 40 years ago. So.

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It's it's super important and I think we're now getting to the idea that, you know, the soda pop train has has totally derailed the amount of water that people drink and it's a dehydrate. It dehydrates you so and it it.

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Actually adds to the mental health problems that we're all experiencing.

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Yes, all these energies rings that are out.

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There, those are even more.

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I mean caffeine and sugar. Yeah, like, stop buying them, please. They're save your money. Water is free.

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You know that's what are is my first chapter of my book that is such a basic foundation that everybody could change right now.

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It and it's so simple.

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It's yeah, yeah.

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And during the pandemic, you know, people were laughing about. Ohh. We're gonna drink all this wine. Well, you know, alcohol is another one of those things that.

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It may feel good in the moment, maybe, but in the long run it just.

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Sucking that water out of your system.

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That's another issue that really came out of COVID is that.

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Again, a lot of people who were who were kind of hanging on by a thread who weren't quite Alcoholics.

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Many of them launched over the ledge. You know, when you're home and you have no outlets and it's hard to cope.

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Right over the edge.

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So that became many people's go to and I've seen a lot of problems, a lot of problems since COVID with that.

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You know your kids are watching you going, you know, apparently this is how we cope with things that we have no control over. We just anesthetize ourselves and.

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Right.

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So now you have, you know, parents who are dealing with alcohol problems. Now we have kids who are vaping uncontrollably.

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I mean, I can't believe.

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How many kids are doing this?

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And all of this, and you know, when I have a kid in my office who tells me they're anxious and that they vape, I'm like, do you understand that your vaping is making your anxiety higher?

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Like you're telling me, I want to get my anxiety better. But here you are doing something that we know makes it worse.

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Yeah, there's not a lot of information out there about it. It's just like.

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Don't bring up the.

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The recreational use of a certain substance, which also increases anxiety. People thinks it makes you sleep better, but what it really does is it makes you anxious. And if you have any other kinds of labels that you've put on yourself like, you know, ADHD or ADHD or whatever.

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Neurodivergent thing you want to call it.

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This I think it's always existed.

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That people start taking these substances or using these substances.

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That add to the problem, they're not really helping you. They may feel like they're helping you because they've altered your your sense of reality, but.

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So like and you know, when you look at the actual like chemistry of it and everything it does, it changes your dopamine and not in a good way. So then you continue to do it even more and more.

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Because you're trying to just get that relaxation because you're really destroying your own chemicals to let that happen.

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Right. Alcohol does the same thing. You you think that may help you fall asleep, but you don't stay asleep and you don't sleep that well.

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You're not going either, no.

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And your body is busy and sugar does the same thing, but your body is busy trying to process these poisons out of your system at night. Instead of repairing things that need repairing.

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Especially if you're not hydrated.

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Yeah, that's the place.

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Yeah, you add that to the to the equation and it just is like.

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Over the top.

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But then you know.

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We and we go. I don't understand why.

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I don't feel well.

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And it's like, well, you're not sleeping well. You're not hydrated. You're not eating well, you're not moving your body.

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Why would you feel well?

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Yeah. And you have to move your body in order for your lymphatic system.

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To work at all.

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People that are just sitting around all the time or watching television or on the computer, you're not moving your body in the way we were designed to be moving beings. We're designed to sleep for 8 hours and then get up and move around all day doing stuff.

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Where they're walking or.

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Just doing chores.

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I went on a homestead. I know what it's like to, you know, you have things that have to be done so you're always moving and.

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And also we were made, you know, we need healthy nutritious food that our body recognizes.

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As food.

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And and that's been a whole nother issue with these kids.

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When you look at what they're eating, most of it is foreign chemicals that we have, they just their body has no idea what to do with it.

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And 90% of our brain chemicals are made.

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In our gut.

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So if they're not actually eating anything that's alive and that's real and that's healthy.

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How is their brain going to function?

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It's not.

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It's not.

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We just have these.

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These choices in grocery stores and and you know, the young kids are.

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Our products have.

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Yeah, I would say even the teenagers at this point, their parents grew up.

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With processed food, it was starting. The microwave was pretty common for most of these people that are in their 40s now, late 30s, early 40s and their kids are starting to become teenagers and.

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Their kids have always grown up with a microwave. They don't really know.

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How to cook?

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That's a big thing when it comes to eating real food. Is knowing how to.

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Cook. They don't know how to cook. That is such an important part because that also really drives into these kids need to feel independent and that they could accomplish things and that helps self esteem. And when they're not in the kitchen learning how to cook, that's a skill. That's a skill that's needed.

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It's funny that you talk about microwaves, so during COVID, when everyone's virtual, I have four children. The gym teacher would play this game. It was like a scavenger hunt. You'd have to run to the item in your house, then run back.

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And without fail, she'd call out a microwave and my kids.

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Would be like.

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We don't have a.

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Microwave. She's like, what do you mean? You know, have a microwave?

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Right.

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We don't have a.

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Microwave. Either I have a toaster oven.

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I love my toaster oven.

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They're super cool and they work really fast. I had to teach my husband how to cook in order to use it, but we just decided that we're not doing that toaster oven. We make our own tortillas. We make our own bread. Yeah.

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There, there are some skills you can learn that they're not that difficult. They don't really.

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When I first started making bread, I thought it was going to.

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Suck up my.

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Whole life, you know, every day was going to be filled with making bread. But it's.

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Really not, it's.

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A once you get the hang of it, it's a real quick process. You throw the stuff in the bowl and you wait a while and every time you walk by it you do something to it and then after a few hours when it looks like it's ready, you stick it on the loaf pan.

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And you stick it in the oven.

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And it's delicious.

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It is delicious and you feel good eating it, and it doesn't have all of the things that are required for processed bread when you're, you know, buying it in the store to keep the shelf life longer, yeah.

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Yeah, we started making our own bread too during COVID. Actually that was a positive that came out of it for my family and.

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It's delicious.

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It is. There's so many different kinds you can make.

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Right. But that again, it's real food.

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They start.

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It's real food and its connection with your your family when you're cooking together and you're eating together and family dinners, I think are a really big deal.

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Many people since television kind of became a 24/7 thing.

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In America, at least, they they quit eating together. And if you sit down with your kids.

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At dinner, even if you don't have anything to talk about, just the act of everybody sits down and you wait till the last person sits down before you start eating.

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And you wait for the last person to finish before you get up.

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I love that you brought family dinners. I talk about it in, in my books, and I talk about the research around it. There's actually research around it, and it shows. The more you sit down as a family, the less likely your child is to use drugs.

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And the higher their grades will be.

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It is a simple act and it is something that we need to get back to because it's a bigger concept. It's a concept of connection.

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And everybody needs to find people that they connect with family, friends. You need to connect in this world to feel well.

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We used to.

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Have a rule. When I was growing up back in the stone ages, I had two sisters and we traveled around a lot because my dad was in the military, so we almost never had a dishwasher in our house, and I still to this day, don't have a dishwasher. I can't be an empty.

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Just don't have one. So my mom and dad made a rule and it's he who cooks doesn't have to do the dishes. He would like to cook because we did really like doing the dishes and we all had to do the dishes together. We didn't have like, rotating schedule.

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Well, it was like if you had to miss doing the dishes. It was kind of a big deal. So that made you. Everybody had to show up for dinner.

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And every into the dishes together. And my mom used to make us sing because she didn't like to listen to us argue with each other. I don't hear you singing.

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That's great, just easy, easy things that you can do for you can do to your kids because it's really doing it to them and it it helps them learn a how to do dishes properly. And you'd be surprised how many people don't actually know how to do dishes.

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Right.

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And clean the whole kitchen because they.

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Leave that back.

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Had to train her husband to do it.

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Yeah, it's really important. These are like, you know, the small simple steps.

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That we need to be doing for ourselves, for our families, they're so important and it it is getting back to the foundations. I mean, we want to talk about mental health. We want to talk about kids feeling well. They need to feel connected. They need to feel like they're not alone. They need to feel like they have purpose, that they're able to achieve things that they can do dishes.

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That they can cook.

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Find joy in their life. You know, a lot of kids, once they actually learn how to.

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Cook. Enjoy it.

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Yeah, I I.

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Have a son who went to culinary art school. He's still not a cook anymore, but he he went and he enjoyed it and he's a really good cook. I have another son who loves smoking stuff. He has a smoker and he's just like so into that. And I have a daughter who's a Baker and another daughter who was a cook in the army.

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Yeah, they all had those abilities.

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That is a big deal.

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And the other thing that I know of.

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And this is a really simple act that most people don't really pay attention to, and it's making your bed in the.

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Morning when you get up turning around and smoothing.

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The sheets out.

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Making your bed. It's like it's a small act, but it's the thing that starts your day with.

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Succeeded in something? Yes, you already accomplished.

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And something. And when you accomplish one thing, it's easier to accomplish many things, which is why I talk about water, as you know, really the first step, because it's normally the easiest step.

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And once you start accomplishing that, then you could look at your sleep, your exercise, your food, and start building on that.

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Yeah, it's it.

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It's so amazing that there are so many little things you can do.

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It don't take.

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Out like we're not talking about going to school and spending years and years and years learning how to to, you know, peer into your psyche to, to straighten everything out.

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It's just like these.

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Super simple things that you can do.

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With your kids, or have your kids get in the habit of doing.

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That will serve them the rest.

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Of their life, and it really does help.

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Your mental health.

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It really does. It helps your mood, it helps your focus, it helps.

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You know when you are filled with sugar and no water and processed food.

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Of course, you're gonna get anxious quicker. Your body's like shaking.

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You have to be able to bring it back down. You have to be able to feel good physically in order to go through this life.

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You know I love meditation as well. You know, whatever form that takes for somebody just to have a few minutes of coming back to that present moment.

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And it you don't need to meditate for an hour a few minutes, a few minutes of some deep breaths every day to ground yourself, to come back to the present. Our anxiety lives in the future. Our depression lives in the past, right in the present moment. We're normally OK, but to take a few minutes to come back to that.

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And you can always find a few minutes.

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That state that you get in that.

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If you pay.

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Attention in the morning when you're waking up.

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It is that same state.

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But to be able to practice and it does take some practice to be good at meditating, even if you're doing it for a couple minutes. Because when you first start 2 minutes is a really long time.

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Yeah, but I don't tell people.

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Don't expect your mind to be blank. That is not the point of meditation. It's about seeing your thoughts come in.

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Going. Uh-huh. I see them. But not attaching to them. So you might see that thought come in of I need to go grocery shopping, OK.

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Don't attach to it what needs to be put on my list. Am I going to have you know dinner for tonight? Like, do I need to go right now? Just let the thought go. You can get back to it in a minute later or go for a mindful walk. Go out for a walk and really observe. What do I smell? What do I see? Be in the moment.

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Any time we can get ourselves back in the moment.

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That's a great place to be.

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And you can use gratitude for that. Gratitude is an easy way, even if you're just in a very small space and you feel you're starting to feel anxious. You can just look around.

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Be thankful for everything that you see so grateful and feel that gratitude. You don't just say it, but you gotta feel it. And as you feel the gratitude for the different things in your environment.

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It's just like a silly pen.

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Well, what?

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It what it really is when we're doing gratitude because I talk a lot about gratitude.

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To my clients.

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You're changing the way your brain is seeing things, and you're changing from negative, negative, negative. I don't have. I don't have. I don't have to look at everything I have and gratefulness and positive and our brain really does start changing.

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And find things to support our story.

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So if we constantly are saying everything is awful, everything is horrible, our brain will find every reason for that to be true.

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When we take the opposite approach, things are good. I'm grateful I have your brain finds things to support that story as well.

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Exactly. I we're always in search of confirmation by us. Believe the world is great. The world is great. You believe the world sucks? Trust me, the world will suck.

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And everybody's right. Yeah, that's great. And it sucks.

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So, Carrie, do people actually work with you as a therapist? Are you?

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Yes, they do. So I have a lot of people who work with me either in person or virtually. I'm based in New Jersey and I also have you're one of the first to know. But I'm also creating a secondary business as well where I'm going to be more coaching and it's going to be more lifestyle coaching for adults. I just got certified as a sleep science coach. I am.

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Health coach as well, so moving into that world as well.

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Very cool. Well, congratulations. I'm excited for you. That's an awesome.

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Place to be and.

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I think your work with mental health.

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It just like.

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It's so important.

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It's really, really important.

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And can people get ahold of you on?

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Your website is.

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That the best? Yeah. So they can get a hold of me on my website. Carriecooperholistictherapy.com. I'm also on Instagram at Carrie Cooper, holistic therapy. And both my books are on Amazon, Mental Health on sensor 10 foundations. Every parent needs to know and mental health uncensored 10 foundations every teen.

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Needs to know which is a workbook.

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Awesome and.

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So you would suggest.

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If you have more than one team, get.

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More than one, yes.

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Or photocopy the pages if you want.

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Or as they used to do in the older days, you have to write the questions out on a separate.

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Piece of paper.

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You could do that too.

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We're so grateful for the write in books these days.

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Is there? Is there anything else that you would like to share with the audience that you hope that they would take out of?

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This conversation.

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Yeah, I really hope that when people are listening to this, they realize you don't need to make huge changes to see a difference. Start small.

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That's the simple steps that could really help you feel better and that you really do have control over so much of it.

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I really want people to feel empowered.

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And it's so easy to be the hero of your own story. Just little steps, little steps. Thank you so much for joining me, Keri this.

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Yeah, it is.

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Thank you so much for having me.

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Has been an awesome conversation.

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