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January 26, 2016

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6 Practical Things Every Young Adult Should Know As They Enter Adulthood

Throughout their high school years, teenagers learn many things: the principles behind the Pythagorean theorem, morals hidden within “The Grapes of Wrath” and the way osmosis works.

It’s true, most traditional schooling leans more heavily on analytical lessons rather than practical intelligence. But life skills are equally important and serve as guide markers for teens transitioning into healthy, productive young adults. Avoid a failure to launch scenario with your child by teaching them these six practical independent living skills for young adults.

How to Handle Money Responsibly

Poll most teenagers on where money comes from, and many will likely respond that it grows on trees. Instilling a sense of financial responsibility in your teen is crucial, so start early. You don’t have to reveal everything about your family’s finances, but it may be a good idea to have your young adult sit with you as you pay bills, and you should consider telling them the story of how you got where you are now. Teach them the value of a dollar before they leave your house and head out on their own.

Filing Taxes

All adults dread April 17, but prepared adults dread tax day a little less. Most teens are not taught how to file their own taxes, but there are many resources available. Teensandtaxes.com has gathered many resources from the IRS and created a “lesson plan” to help you teach your teen in the simplest of ways.

How to Survive Without Technology

Although technology can be helpful in everyday life, it’s important your teen also holsters strategies to cope and thrive without it. Teach them to rely on the recall power of their own brain before grabbing their smartphone to look something up. Make them do math problems without the iPad calculator when applicable. Encourage them to reach out and communicate with friends and family in person rather than via a social network. Challenge them to go tech-free for three days and see what happens. Technology and Internet addiction is a real problem that is greatly preventable.

Practical Home and Car Maintenance Tips

All those complicated math equations and literary expertise aren’t going to help your teen much when they get a flat tire on the freeway or their garbage disposal breaks in their first apartment. Independent living skills for young adults should be top-of-mind before your teen flies the coop. Teach them how and when to change their car’s oil, brake fluid and filters. Educate them on what to do in the event of minor household emergencies, like an overflowing toilet or a power outage.

Healthy Nutrition and Diet

A balanced diet that provides vital nutrients greatly affects the way young adults feel and act. Most youth don’t have a clue about how sugar negatively effects their bodies, causing mood fluctuations, energy crashes and even illness. Teach your teen how to cook their own nutritionally dense meals, and the importance of food when seeking whole-body wellness. PQ’s Medical Director, Dr. Britta Zimmer, suggests teens eat an adequate amount of protein, take fish oil supplements for essential Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and avoid foods known to trigger allergic reactions as a start to achieving optimal health through nutrition.

The Power of Positive Thinking

As teens transition to young adults, extra stress is increasingly placed on them daily. It is important to teach your child the power of positive thinking along with other healthy coping strategies so they are less likely to turn to drugs, alcohol or other means to dull the stress. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry suggests teaching your teen how to decrease negative self-talk by transforming negative thoughts into positive ones.

It can often be difficult for teens to transition into high-functioning young adults. If you suspect your teen needs more help than you can offer, Pacific Quest may be able to help.

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January 14, 2016

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Escaping Reality: The Very Real Dangers of Video Games

Gone are the simple days of one player arcade-style gaming. With the advent of era-defining video game consoles, we’ve removed the tokens and brought games home with us. Now, years after the introduction of home gaming, another trend has emerged and now holds gamers’ attention in a vice-grip: online multiplayer.

Online multiplayer takes goal-oriented single-player gaming to a new level with another tier of competition in the form of their peers. Gamers no longer need to be in the same room to compete digitally, they can access a network remotely. The ability to connect in this way leads to longer playing hours with teens altering their own timeline to suit the goals of their online companions’. The danger comes into play not when young gamers tackle the next mission on the edge of their seat, but when the pastime transforms from a leisure activity into an obsession.

The following signs of video game addiction are just a few of the many side effects that teens and young adults face when gaming becomes more compulsion than recreational diversion:

Mental

Escapism is the continually growing cause of video game addiction and obsessive online behavior. The concept of digital reality is enticing in that it offers teens a way to retreat from their everyday problems. Video games are the high-octane version of virtual escapism. With video game graphics competing, and in some ways surpassing the quality of commercial video, people have begun to accept these terminals as hubs for alternate reality. With a console and system where a player can control the fate of a surrogate character through their actions in a fantastical world, the sense of control can be intoxicating. Without the worry of repercussions for actions, users can jump into a system built with different rules and teens are very susceptible to this.

Though video games may offer reprieve from the distressing nature of life, constant retreat into these game has been found to in turn perpetuate isolation and depression. Long-term effects can be destructive financially, academically and in some cases have been seen to stretch to influencing future jobs.

Physical

Studies indicate that people who regularly engage in long stretches of gaming are more apt to carpal tunnel syndrome developed from overuse of controllers, and migraines brought about by straining eyes at a screen for too long and extended intensive concentration. Obsessive gamers exhibiting signs of video game addiction frequently have poor personal hygiene, and are prone to fatigue from irregular sleep patterns. Eating issues become prevalent in some, on both ends of the spectrum. Either poor health results from a diet of convenience, or from a lack of attention to nutrition.

In a videogame, challenges are overcome with mental acuity and results are reached quickly. The nature of this process translates to lethargy or apathy in real life. Without careful attention, these habits can translate into serious health issues.

Emotional

Behavioral issues are one of the most prominent indicators to emerge. Some signs of video game addiction include: teens beginning to feel irritable when they are unable to play a game, beginning to lie about the amount of time spent gaming, or isolation becoming second nature to them.

Further than behavioral issues, for some teens, gaming can lead to a disconnect from emotions, an inability to communicate efficiently, and it can become a hindrance to maintaining relationships with family and close friends. By escaping reality, teens shirk the responsibilities and can begin to glorify their online presence. Some end up beginning to identify more as their avatar than their true identity in the real world.

How to Manage Escapism Tendencies

Taking a mental break from the hustle and bustle of the everyday grind is understandable for all people to a certain extent. Many people enjoy reading new fiction books, gardening, or going for long solitary bike rides. Though these actions can be taken as minor forms of escapism, the effects of those actions on the human mind and body pale in comparison to the influence of online gaming.

Some parents have found success diverting the attention of their teens to other activities, and young adults are generally responsive when new challenges are presented which cater to their interests or strengths. However, the reality is that some teens require additional help. Recognizing the signs of video game addiction and the need for professional assistance is pivotal in ensuring the problem does not progress. Keeping an eye on video game play the same way that television or other media is monitored is crucial. For help identifying the signs of video game addiction, and potential treatment options, answers can be found here.

Download our Video Game Addiction Guide

January 12, 2016

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Encouraging Your College Student to Find a Mentor

January is National Mentoring Month—does your college student have a mentor?

According to a report compiled by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, both undergraduate and graduate students alike report mentoring as having helped them develop the proper skills and mindset necessary to succeed professionally.

“Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity,” states The National Mentoring Partnership website. It’s true—Mentor-mentee relationships help not only in the educational sphere, but in daily life and a future career as well. Learn more about the positive effects of mentoring, and how to find the right one for your child.

What Type of Mentor?

Both informal and formal mentoring relationships can be of benefit to a college student. The differences between the two are subtle, but one option may be better for your child than the other.

Informal Mentoring:

  • Naturally occurring
  • Provision of general guidance and support
  • Promotes students’ sense of well-being by challenging the negative opinions they may have of themselves
  • Can be short- or long-term
  • More common than formal mentoring

Formal Mentoring:

  • Structured and intentional approach
  • Often facilitated by an agency or program
  • Mentoring takes place at specific place and time
  • Strong emphasis on positive youth development
  • Can be school-based, community-based or even workplace-based
  • Can include specific programs, such as wilderness therapy

Education

When students begin their college journey, it can often be a tumultuous time; college is full of new experiences and uncertainty that can potentially lead to larger behavioral problems. Mentoring has been proven to impact a few early warning signs that a student may be getting de-railed, including:

  • Regularly Missing Class: Students who participate on a regular basis in a mentor relationship are 52 percent less likely to ditch a full day of school than their peers, and 37 percent less likely to skip a class, according to the Public/Private Ventures Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
  • Recurring Behavioral Issues: Mentored students are proven to maintain healthier, more positive attitudes toward schooling in general, according to 2013 The Role of Risk report.
  • Failure to Launch Scenarios: Mentoring, and programs specifically integrated with mentorship roles like Wilderness Therapy, can help students learn lifelong coping skills.

Career

Many students feel high school curriculum doesn’t adequately prepare them for college, and many college students feel college courses don’t properly prepare them for the real world and a successful career. Oftentimes it is said internships are the best path to getting acquainted with the profession they seek, and mentors can help guide students in the right direction by teaching networking skills and their own valuable connections. They can also help students set career goals, practice interviewing skills and introduce them to other organizations or resources they may know of.

Daily Life

Navigating the daily struggles of college life can be overwhelming for some. If you’re not always available as a parent to help ease the stress of this transition, it may be time to consider finding a mentor or wilderness therapy program for your young adult. Sometimes young adults simply begin going down the wrong path because they are uncertain as to where to go—needing a guide to promote positive social attitudes and communication. The strongest benefit from mentoring, according to The Role of Risk report, is a reduction in depressive symptoms. Find help for your young son or daughter early, so they can blossom into the adult you know they can be.

Download the Young Adults Program Brochure

January 7, 2016

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Family Matters: Resolve to Eat Healthier This Year

New Year’s Resolutions are often considered a very individual and personal undertaking. Staying fit and healthy, losing weight, living life to the fullest, saving more and spending time with family and friends round out Nielsen’s top five list for 2015.

This year, make a healthful family life top priority. Making healthier eating a family initiative knocks out multiple birds with one stone, and creates an automatic support system to see the commitment through all year long. Choosing healthier options will also provide your family member’s bodies and minds with the fuel they need to carry out their own personal goals.

Pacific Quest is here to arm you with the nutritional knowledge and practical how-tos to get your family started on a more healthful path in 2016.

The Standard American Diet (SAD)

We’ve all seen it: The old pyramid filled with food and broken up by serving recommendations. It’s called the Standard American Diet (SAD) and while its intentions are good, it is not the healthiest option for our families. Many US families continue to consume processed foods—or food-like products—high in refined sugars, chemicals and trans-fats. This diet inevitably leads to health issues, including metabolic problems, elevated cholesterol and insulin resistance, to name a few.

“The sheer novelty and glamour of the Western diet, with its 17,000 new food products introduced every year, and the marketing muscle used to sell these products, has overwhelmed the force of tradition and left us where we now find ourselves; relying on science and journalism and marketing to help us decide questions about what to eat,” says Michael Pollan in an article published by The New York Times titled “Unhappy Meals.”

Going beyond the Standard American Diet, and back to basics with organic, whole, anti-inflammatory foods is the first step.

More Food for Thought

A general rule of thumb is to avoid all food products that contain unrecognizable or difficult-to-pronounce ingredients. Whole foods are free of these harmful substances and should be consumed as often as possible. They also provide vital nutrients to improve our bodily functions. It is important to eat a well-rounded diet daily, but these nutrients in particular have been proven to contribute to brain health:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish)
  • Vitamin B-12 (found in fish, meat, dairy and nutritional yeast)
  • Vitamin C (found in leafy greens, citrus and strawberries)
  • Vitamin E (found in nuts)

Family-sized New Year’s Resolutions
Modern families live their lives behind computer screens and smartphones. Internet and video game addictions are a very real issue.  Learning the truth about nutrition, planting and caring for fruits and vegetables at home and cooking healthy meals together as a family will soon become a beloved tradition. This approach is also beneficial to families suffering from greater issues, such as problems with a troubled teen or young adult. Horticultural Therapy combines the art and science involved in working in a garden with current human behavior theories. The New Year is the perfect time to participate in a growth-focused treatment program. If you think someone in your family may need more help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Pacific Quest—We’re here for your support.

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