One out of five teens lives with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness. Some come to believe that worry, isolation, and fear are all life has to offer. Yet God created us for lives full of joy, well-being, and connection.
The Awakened Life for High School Students is an eight-week small-group guide that empowers teens to awaken to a more abundant life through practices that build resiliency, teach psychosocial skills, and foster emotional and spiritual well-being. It is designed to be led by those who provide spiritual and emotional care to students but who are not professional counselors or therapists. Over the course of this study, students will learn how to connect with their own minds and bodies, expand their understanding of the importance of connection to others, develop connections to nature, and then combine all of these practices to build a resilient, joyful, and awakened life.
The curriculum walks participants through 8 weeks of practices and reflections. Each weekly session lasts for about an hour and includes a mindfulness or spiritual practice to explore as a group. Many of these practices involve prayer and meditation techniques, coupled with discussion and journaling. Students will be encouraged to do each week's spiritual practice at home, to reflect on the experience in a journal, and to check in with an accountability partner at least once a week.
Each week's session follows the same rhythm by revisiting these themes: Awake, Aware, Alive, Abide, and Arise. Through participation in The Awakened Life, high school students can wake up to abundant life; become aware of their worth and belonging; come alive to their senses, thoughts, and emotions; abide in the love and grace of God; and arise to live a life as connected, whole people.
Sarah E. Bollinger, PhD, LCSW is a psychotherapist in private practice. She is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in both Tennessee and Missouri and works with clients on issues of depression, anxiety, and creative identity. Bollinger earned her master of social work from New York University and her PhD in social work from Washington University in St. Louis. She resides in Nashville, TN.
Angela R. Olsen, MDiv, is an ordained elder in the Missouri Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. She is an associate pastor focused on helping people experience the love and grace of God through spiritual disciplines, pastoral care, and coaching. Olsen earned her MDiv from Saint Paul School of Theology. She currently serves Community United Methodist Church in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband ,and they have two sons.