Features, OPINION, WELLNESS - May 23, 2023

Building Emotional Resilience: An Interview with Sarah Almawy


Mental health issues can manifest in different forms, including anxiety, depression, and panic, among others. These conditions can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life, affecting their ability to concentrate, perform daily activities, and build meaningful relationships.

While conversations around mental health continue to gain momentum, there exists a stigma among many who are unable to speak about their struggles. This especially affects teenagers and young adults, making it all the more necessary to equip their caregivers with information to create a more supportive environment for the younger generation to thrive in.

As the world marks mental health awareness month in May, we got in touch with a Bahrain-based expert, Sarah Almawy, a certified Life Coach and founder of Conscious Coaching which specializes in tweens, teens and their caregivers. A teacher with over 18 years of experience, Sarah’s work is all about creating awareness about the struggles one could face in their formative years and finding ways for them to manage their challenges effectively.

What are some strategies or techniques for managing stress and anxiety daily?

Stress and anxiety have become more prevalent in our daily lives, especially after having gone through COVID and reemerging into our demanding societies. We are seeing this hit our children hard and is affecting their coping abilities at school and home. One of the best strategies that I have seen for dealing with stress or anxiety is deep breathing in the moment which means, when you are faced with a particularly uncomfortable situation, take a deep breath in for 4 counts, hold it in for 7 and let it out slowly for 8. This manages to regulate your body’s response system. Other ways that have proved to work in stressful situations are meditating, taking short walks or even listening to music to help boost serotonin which is our “happy” hormone.

What steps can I take to improve my sleeping habits and get better quality rest?

Sleep is probably one of the most important factors in our abilities to function in our day-to-day lives and a lack of sleep or poor sleep habits may contribute to dysregulated hormones and immune systems and unwanted stress that could translate into physical ailments. Some important sleep habits are having a consistent sleep routine, putting electronic devices down at least 30 minutes before bed to slow down the mind and ease into winding down, and most importantly, using the bedroom only for sleep so that there are few distractions for your brain and body to make a connection at bedtime. Getting the ‘regulated’ 8 hours a night helps decrease brain fog and sets you up for a jolt of needed energy for the next day.

What are some effective ways for young adults to cope with difficult emotions or challenges and build resilience?

Adolescence is the toughest phase in the human timeline – wanting to become independent yet still needing guidance, being easily influenced by outside sources and needing to know what’s morally right, having so many emotions and not enough outlets for them. It is our job as their caregivers to acknowledge their emotions and be able to offer them structured support while brainstorming positive and effective ways to channel them like talking it out, journaling thoughts, drawing, or simply being quietly present. More importantly, we need to honour their growth without judgment so that they feel safe while sharing their journeys with us.

Your work focuses a lot on the well-being of teenagers. What are some common stressors and challenges that teenagers face, and how can they effectively manage them?

In the adolescent years, the emotional part of the brain is growing rapidly leaving little room for awareness or calm. This is why during this growth stage, we find our teens experiencing high highs and low lows. Creating a safe place to understand them is key. Some major stress factors that ensue range from school achievement levels, and family environments to social obligations.

This is where we as caregivers come in and offer our support as a crutch. One of the most important tools in these situations is a calming environment our teens can turn to when in strife. Allowing them to feel all of their feelings without the shame of outbursts or heat-of-the-moment arguments gives them the stability and quaintness of knowing that what they are experiencing is valid and fair. Let them set their expectations and flow through their journey with them.

How can parents and caregivers best support their teenager’s mental health and well-being while also allowing them to develop their independence and autonomy?

Caregivers, including parents, teachers, and counsellors, can best support teens’ mental health by listening to their needs whether it is through words or body language. Know when to pick your battles and when to let things slide. It is essential to allow them a day off at least once a month (mental health day) to recuperate and recharge from the day-to-day struggles to prevent burnout. And my number one recommendation is simply to ask them what they need from you. This opens the lines of communication and presents them with the trust they need from you to be more honest.

If you’re looking for support, get in touch with Sarah – Mail: sjardali@gmail.com | Phone: +973-33208829 | Whatsapp: +973-33208829

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