The Emotion Explosion
Why AM I so Sad? is a question I hear from teen girls quite a bit. Sometimes you know why and other times you don’t. Feelings are everywhere and feel totally uncontrollable when you are a teenage girl. Even though it feels like no one understands, this is a completely normal part of growing up as a girl. When you start moving into “the P Word”, puberty takes over your mind and body and it can be overwhelming but understanding what is happening can sometimes help to calm the storm.
The crazy thing about puberty is that it is not just a one way street.
As your brain and body move from childhood to adulthood you can move back and forth between the two. Your brain is literally going through an overhaul. Like a house getting remodeled, your brain and all the pathways are changing and evolving. It starts in the primal part of your brain and slowly moves toward the area that helps you to problem solve and think and make decisions. So as you enter this stage in your life you feel the CRAZY feels that don’t make sense because you're much more sensitive to things around you. Your emotional reactions are bigger, easier to access, so when things around you happen that trigger a feeling, you feel it bigger than when you were younger.
Despite what people say, this isn’t because of your “hormones”. Yes, there are a lot of hormonal changes happening in your body and yes, sometimes these impact how you feel and react to things but brain research has proven that it is actually the changing brain that is the real source of all of these big changes. That being said, hormones are a factor in certain things like getting your period and how you feel about relationships.
Without going into a full lesson on puberty you will notice physical changes and part of this is due to changes in hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone (the sex hormones). As these change in your body you become more interested in dating and learning about sex and relationships. This can be a contributing factor to the brain changes as well but don’t let the old myth of “teenagers are hormonal” fool you….it’s your brain that is the life changer here. If you want to learn more about how these hormones work in your teen body click HERE.
What is a girl to do?
When the feels get so big that you want to crawl under your covers and hide from the world try to resist doing this (at least on a regular basis) and instead, try a few of these things:
- Have a trusted adult or friend that you can talk to and use them. Tell them whether you need some advice or whether you just need an ear to word vomit all the things swirling in your head. You might find that just talking about it helps to sort it out in your head
- Have a box of things you love (letters/cards from family and friends, stuffed toys from when you were little, etc) and take it out when you are feeling down. Having things that let you travel to the little girl world can help to remind you about the love you have in your life.
- Keep your passion projects or activities handy. If you love to draw, write, knit, or anything else creative, have those things on the ready and jump to an activity when you need a distraction from the life in your mind.
- Focus on a healthy lifestyle as much as you can. This helps to balance your hormones and gives your body a chance to regulate and flow with the changes. For tips on natural ways to balance your hormones click HERE.
- Get some sleep. According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the average amount of sleep that teenagers get is between 7 and 7 ¼ hours. However, they need between 9 and 9 ½ hours (studies show that most teenagers need exactly 9 ¼ hours of sleep). On top of this there is a shift that happens in your body after puberty that shifts your internal clock forward about 2 hours. So if you were used to going to bet around 8:30pm your body starts you tell you that you aren’t tired until 10:30pm. Unfortunately this means that you will also wake up 2 hours late which makes it hard to function when you have early school start time. If you can aim for a 9:30pm bedtime at hte latest it will allow for you to start winding down with a good bedtime routine. Additionally, a new research study indicates that girls may be more impacted by the lack of sleep than boys. Sleep is an essential part of growing a healthy body and brain which impacts your life in so many different ways. To learn more about how sleep impacts your body as a teen click HERE.