Therapist strengthens the psyche of Generation Z with simple exercises

image: imago / jürgen celebrated


Julia Dombrowski

To keep fit, he goes running. You study hard to get a good grade. And for a healthy and strong psyche? Well, unfortunately, many people only take care of our mental health when it’s already too least that is what Miriam Hoff observed.

Like a gym for your head

She is a child and youth therapist in Frankfurt am Main. She knows that the young years in a person’s life are always a phase of extreme self-discovery, but on top of that for Generation Z: Climate crisis, pandemic, war, inflation and the omnipresent social networks. That puts a strain on the psyche. And in many places, the range of outpatient therapies has already reached its limits, as Hessin warns. This is how Miriam came up with the idea of ​​putting together a practice-oriented training program that reduces everyday fears and allows you to go through life stronger.

“It’s not ‘sit back and listen to yourself,’ but very concrete help.”

Child and adolescent therapist Miriam Hoff

“These tools are not a substitute for therapy,” he clearly warns in an interview with Watson. “Anyone with a mental illness needs professional help. But the exercises are useful for anyone who feels insecure or anxious, wants to be more optimistic and self-confident. They are a good framework to better face the difficult moments of the future.”

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She presents the tools to strengthen the psyche in her book “Mind is Magic”. All tried and tested, says Miriam. “I do these things with my patients in exactly the same way,” she says. “It’s not ‘sit back and listen to yourself,’ but very concrete help.”

Miriam Hoff with her book

Miriam Hoff with her book “Mind is Magic”.Image: mvg editors

Watson was explained the underlying principle and presents three exercises.

1. Exercise for acute panic

“My favorite exercise is the butterfly hug. Here you sit comfortably and cross your arms in front of your chest so that both hands are supported to the right and left of your shoulders (…). (…) Then you start, taking turns tapping your hands slowly and evenly to the right and to the left (…) He immediately calms down, because the even tapping of the right and left causes the expected thing to happen: to the right comes left, left comes right, and that creates moments of chaos that return to order.”

In her work, Miriam experiences which themes play a recurrent role in adolescents and young people. Among them particularly common: motivational difficulties and depression, eating disorders, panic attacks, bullying and social insecurities.

If you start life mentally strong, even tough situations won't bring you down so quickly.

If you start life mentally strong, even tough situations won’t bring you down so quickly.Image: iStockphoto / DariaZu

Tiktok and Instagram are ubiquitous

“These are problems that almost everyone struggles with,” says Miriam. At a young age, it is typical for these types of insecurities to surface, as it is a time of orientation. You have to find yourself and compare yourself with others. But unlike in the past, today there are smartphones.

“Mental disorders among young people have skyrocketed in the last two years.”

Child and adolescent therapist Miriam Hoff

“Social media is ever present, which means you’re not just comparing yourself to others at school, but also at home on the couch,” says Miriam. “And of course, the topic of bullying also takes on a different dimension on the Internet. Hatred spreads quickly there and can be summoned permanently.” Given these special challenges, it’s even more important to be mentally well-prepared and know tricks to not let the negative get to you.

2. Exercise against periods of depression

“In the morning you put five buttons in your left pants pocket. Every time something nice happens to you during the day, you take a button out of your left pants pocket and put it in your right pants pocket. Remember: you don’t have to be it anything momentous, an open door, praise, (…) a good TikTok video that makes you smile – all of that is enough for a single button each. By night, you’ll see how many buttons “made it” … in the right pocket of the pants. (…) That is multiplied because, thanks to selective perception, in the end we only look for the beautiful”.

“Mental disorders have skyrocketed among young people in the last two years,” says Miriam. The corona pandemic naturally played a role, as a current DAK study shows, among other things. “Anxiety disorders and depression have increased, which is largely due to the fact that young people were increasingly required or able to retreat to their bedrooms and the outside world only reached them digitally.” The only problem is that therapy places are scarce.

Consultations are also piling up at Hoff’s outpatient practice. “We can only treat a fraction of them,” she reports, “so I also think it’s important to give people techniques they can use to at least curb a common everyday fear that becomes an overt disorder.”

Facing everyday fears so they don’t grow in the first place.

As in most areas of life, the following also applies here: It is best to avoid the beginnings before a small “quirk” becomes a clinical picture. Mentally healthy or mentally ill, it’s often not so black and white, says Miriam. For example, many patients do not have a complete eating disorder, but have a negative body image, constantly compare themselves to others, and lose their zest for life. “There’s a big gray area,” says Miriam, “and even here the level of adolescent suffering is quite high.”

3. Exercise before an important meeting

“Build a sensory box with scents that you find pleasing. It could be holiday sunscreen, your favorite perfume, cinnamon (…) or whatever comes to mind that reminds you of a beautiful situation. (…) Then inhale the scent and consciously immerse yourself in the beautiful memory with your eyes closed. You see, it feels like you are reliving the moment. Your brain does not differentiate and sends messengers of happiness directly. This is how you can (…) also prepare for situations where you need a good charisma”.

You are not at the mercy of your own feelings, says Miriam. There are ways to funnel and trap them, redirect and classify them. The goal is to face the future with more strength and not let your own head hold you back. She thinks it can even be fun.

Anyone who internalizes and applies simple techniques to counter mental challenges should benefit in the long run. It can help build resilience.see future challenges as opportunities and look forward to what is to come.

It’s not unusual to carry fears with you, Miriam says, but you can get rid of them: “There are ways you can help yourself mentally independently, directly and effectively with everyday problems.” You just have to meet them.

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