According to a 2018 survey conducted by Globe Newswire, 45 percent of teens said they’re stressed out all the time, and based on data from the American Psychological Association, 44 percent of children reported trouble sleeping due to stress.
While we often hear about the impact of stress on adults, the impact of stress on children and teens is just as prevalent and real these days, and is something to pay attention to. Children and teens are facing different types of pressures than ever before, including more competitive academic environments; increased use of technology such as mobile devices, social media, video games and on-demand programming; bullying in school and online; and notably busy schedules that include homework, several after-school activities and sports.
In addition to eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, talking through feelings with parents and other trusted adults, exercising, spending time outdoors, having downtime and free play time, mindfulness can be another important tool for children and teens to manage stress and thrive. Mindfulness can be practiced in many forms, including yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, listening to calming music or spending time in nature, to name a few.
The key is for parents, pediatricians, coaches and educators to provide children and teens with the education, resources and time to incorporate mindfulness into a healthy habit in their daily lives. Fortunately, many schools in the Mountain View and Los Altos districts have access to mindfulness education workshops for parents and their children and teens, from organizations such as Mission Be, a nonprofit group based in New York. In addition, mobile apps are available for guided meditations, such as Ananda Kids by Deepak Chopra and Headspace for Kids. As a parent volunteer at Springer School, I offer monthly lunchtime yoga classes for all students in grades 1-6 to learn new yoga poses and stretches, practice breathing and calm their minds and bodies. My company, Passion Fit, has produced a free Mom and Kids Yoga video series available on YouTube for parents and kids to do anytime and anywhere, including in the comfort of their own homes.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation has so many wonderful benefits and is strongly needed to ensure we’re raising healthy and happy children and teens. It can improve sleep, self-esteem and mental alertness; center and calm the body and mind; decrease anxiety; and even naturally and positively impact brain chemistry. It also can provide children and teens with a healthy coping mechanism and outlet for stress and other challenges they may be confronting in their lives, which they can then carry with them into adulthood.
As adults, it’s important to recognize that our children and teens are facing new challenges that we may not have faced in our youth. Therefore, fresh and innovative ways of approaching these situations, like mindfulness, can help provide the next generation with a bright and positive future.
Reena Vokoun is owner of the Los Altos-based Passion Fit. For more information, visit passionfit.com.