DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m in my senior year of high school, and the pressure is intense. It seems like my friends and I are constantly mad at somebody. There’s just so much tension between friend groups and people who are dating or not and trying to figure out relationships. Plus, we are applying to college and worried about whether or not we will get in. I talk to my mother about it, and she’s kind of helpful, but it's all just too much. I don’t know how to manage this time. One week I have friends, and the next week it feels like nobody is my friend. How can I stay calm and still get my work done through it all? -- Overwhelmed
DEAR OVERWHELMED: I feel your pain. My daughter is a senior in high school, and I see how the stress can take over. We practice meditation, which can be helpful. Try this: Sit quietly with your feet flat on the floor and your eyes closed. Take three deep breaths. As you breathe in, feel the oxygen filling your body. Imagine your breath cleansing your entire body. As you exhale, let go of any tension you feel in your body. Repeat that for a series of three cleansing breaths. Then, breathe naturally. With your eyes closed, continue to notice your breath as it moves in and out of your body. As thoughts pop up, notice them, but don’t try to hold on to them. Allow the thoughts to pass like clouds in the sky. Some thoughts may be happy. Some may be worrisome, like storm clouds. Whatever they are, let them come and go. Invite yourself to be calm. With each natural breath, give yourself permission to be still and calm. After three to five minutes (however much time you have to devote to yourself), open your eyes. That simple meditative moment can help you calm down and access your inner strength.
As you go through your day, when the drama starts to build, pause and do a mini-meditation. It will help you regain control of yourself in the midst of so much that is out of your control. Trust that you can get through this, and that this extremely emotional time in your life will pass.