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Real Talk for Teens: Naming Your Support System

Life is full of ups and downs, and the truth is, it’s always going to be this way. Along the journey, our emotions will fluctuate, some days we’ll call “good” and others we’ll call “bad,” and we will experience a wide range of successes and challenges.

Through it all, though, we need support– all of us! Today, I’ll give you some ideas and tools for naming your own, individualized support system.


What Does Support Mean to You?

When you hear the word “support,” what comes up for you? Can you picture or visualize something? Does a certain part of your body tense up? Ease up? Do any words or descriptions that come to mind? What else do you notice? First, I invite you to take a few minutes to reflect mentally or on paper, whatever feels helpful to you.

Support, to me, is anything that lifts me up. It’s anything that assists, encourages, or affirms me. Remember, we all need support along the journey of life, and we will need to draw from a number of different sources, depending on the day, our mood, the situation, etc. Thus, we need a support system!


courtney and sister


Considering Your Support System

Who and what are in your support system? Yes, this includes animate and inanimate options. Download this printable to use as you build your own, individualized system.

  1. Self-Soothing: What can you give yourself or do for yourself that brings comfort? Consider your five senses and small acts/gestures that you can use anywhere. A few items on my list are: give myself a hug, massage my shoulders, jump on the mini trampoline, wrap up in my weighted blanket, and spend time journaling.
  2. Family/Friends: Who you can call or text when you’re feeling down or frantic or overwhelmed? Who can you ask for help from? List the names of family members and friends who you feel most comfortable reaching out to in times of need and in times of excitement. For example, my list includes several friends in Austin, as well as friends around the country; it also includes family members who I know I can always count on.
  3. Professionals: Who are the “professionals” in your life that you feel supported by? Think about your school and community spaces and the adults you interact with there. I turn to my therapist, other coaches, authors (even if only through their books), my acupuncturist, and my writing group.
  4. Places: Where do you feel safe, secure, happy, and free? Consider spaces inside and outside of your home, nearby and far away, real and imaginary. For instance, you may have a magical place you’ve only visited in a visualization, and you may also really love to spend time in a nook of the public library. My list includes my bed, walking trails in New Mexico, my grandma’s couch, and Barton Springs pool.
  5. Environment: What kind of adjustments in the environment comfort and soothe you? Again, consider your five senses. Notice what sights, smells, sounds, textures/feelings, and tastes you are drawn to. I have included lavender oil, the purrs of my cat, music by Lizzo, the colors orange and purple, and sunshine or open windows.
  6. Other supports: Lastly, consider anything (or anyone) else that you feel affirmed and supported by. These can be quotes or lyrics or foods or activities. I have included dark chocolate, taking walks, scrolling Instagram, and organizing my bedroom.


feet in grass with walking meditation guide


Using Your Support System

Next, in order for this to “work,” you must remember to use your support system! It’s there for you when you need it, but you’ll need a trigger or cue to utilize it. Decide on a way to access your support system. Then, notice, in a week or so, how often you are using it. Adjust from there, deciding whether you’d like to store the information somewhere more obvious (your screen saver or on your bathroom mirror, for example).

Where will you keep this information so that it can be helpful to you? Is it in hardcopy or virtual? In a list or delivered through drawings or doodles?

Furthermore, know that this tool is a living document. You can always make changes, additions, or eliminations as you need to. Take the time to keep this tool up to date and top of mind.

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