One of the best tools I have found to counter depression and anxiety in girls is for them to “savor each moment”. Teens today are scurrying around busy and distracted, and often don’t spend time taking in the good things surrounding them. People with depression often focus on the negatives and what they don’t have vs. what they do possess. Learning to savor the moment is the perfect antidote to this problem.
Savoring experiences means being more mindful in each moment. The longer something is held in awareness, the more emotionally stimulating it becomes. This enhances more brain neurons to fire and strengthens your memory of the event. The female brain naturally attaches more emotion to memories than the male brain, allowing women to have clearer recall of specifics of past events. Men’s version of the story is the movie trailer; hers is the full-length feature.
I teach girls at my retreats and camps to savor the moment by pausing for a minute when we have experienced a moment of intense fun or closeness. I have them close their eyes and touch into their emotions and to make it last by staying with them for 20 seconds or more instead of brushing past it and clicking onto the next ‘better thing’. I have them pay attention to the gratifying features of the event; for example, how great it feels to receive a hug. This allows them to internalize the reward feelings so they can carry it with them and not need to get it from externals.
The next step is to deliberately enrich the memory by calling up other similar feelings from previous experiences (ex. feeling loved). This stimulates oxytocin production in the brain that deepens your sense of connection and well-being and strengthens neuronal connections as well. Once again, the memory of the experience becomes more ingrained, and you feel more fulfilled from the event.
I heard about this concept a few years ago, but unfortunately don’t remember the source. The girls who have embraced this form of mindfulness become more happy and grateful. Find opportunities when you and your daughter are having moments of closeness or fun and encourage them and you to consciously pause and spend a moment really savoring the moment. The feelings and the memory of the experience will heighten, and they will carry the good feelings with them forever.
Check out my new online video course: TAKING FLIGHT: EVERYDAY PARENTING WISDOM TO HELP GIRLS SOAR.