These are stressful times. In our modern world, the onslaught of information rarely ceases, and as a result we are expected to be available for others to an unprecedented degree. As adults, we each spend each day navigating and multitasking our way through a remarkable amount of to-do’s – physical, mental, emotional, and increasingly digital, with increasing pressure to maintain online and social media presence.
Not surprisingly, the sense of overwhelming stress is not limited to adults. Our children are increasingly susceptible to the effects of mounting societal pressures, with the added factor of having even fewer learned mechanisms with which to deal with them. Perhaps the notion of a fancy free and idyllic childhood has always been more nostalgia and storybook than reality, but no one can deny the significant change that smart phones and tablets have had on children’s lives. The typical stressors of school, relationships, family matters and thoughts about the future are all valid stressors, but they are now amplified multifold.
Indeed, the number of children and adolescents who struggle with anxiety is remarkably high. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, rates of diagnosed anxiety disorders among children age 13-17 are 38% for girls and 26% for boys – and these are only the cases significant enough to warrant a doctor visit and diagnosis! Of course, with this emotional stress, it is not uncommon for other areas of their health to be affected as well. Grades, social skills, nutritional status, digestion and sleep can all decline in the face of elevated anxiety. These years of a individual life are so delicate and vital in terms of paving the path for a healthy future so as physicians, parents, teachers and mentors it is of utter importance to support the emotional wellbeing of the younger generations.
It is never too early or too late to start teaching stress reduction techniques to children, however the sooner in life the better. Below is a list of tools that are safe for all ages and easy to incorporate into everyday life. More information on each can be found online, in books, or through your health care provider.
If you think that your child is battling stress and anxiety, regardless of a clinical diagnosis, our physicians can help you find ways to support them toward an improved mood and better quality of life. In some cases, additional testing may be recommended, and there are numerous additional safe and effective natural treatment strategies that may be considered.
Submitted by Tonya Pasternak, ND
Graduate of Bastyr University (WA)
Vis medicatrix naturae, or healing power of nature, is one of six foundational principles of naturopathic medicine. Voice of the Vis Blog provides a platform for integrative health professionals to speak on the healing power of nature, and on other relevant topics of interest.
Contributions to Voice of the Vis Blog are courtesy of naturopathic doctors and naturopathic students attending accredited naturopathic colleges, and other integrative health professionals, including Medical Doctors (MDs), Osteopathic Medical Doctors (DOs), and Chiropractors (DCs).