My 17-year old daughter Brynli is a senior in high school. She’s a good student, has a busy social calendar and after-school jobs, and like many teenagers today she sets high expectations for herself—coupled with a lot of self-doubt and anxiety. Recently our house has been consumed with major stress over exams, college applications, discussing how to pay for college, and my daughter envisioning her life after she leaves the nest. I have to admit I’m almost relieved when I get the door slam and she storms into her room to decompress!
Both my teens (sort of) hear my ongoing lectures on reducing social media, the importance of good nutrition, sleep and exercise. When I can get them to carve out 30-45 minutes for acupuncture, it works wonders on their mood, menstrual cycles, and even boosts their performance on the soccer field.
Acupuncture tends to be highly effective for healthy adolescents, as their bodies are pure Yang energy, and able to change and transform quickly- just like their mental state. Because kids are growing so fast, they also heal rapidly. However, with increasing stress of school and peer relationships, coupled with physical growth and an influx of hormones from Mother Nature—teens need extra support during this time to help balance the flow of their ever-changing energy systems.
Acupuncture can help with teenage emotional health because it affects and regulates brain chemistry. Researchers studying the effects of acupuncture have determined that acupuncture causes an increase in the production of endorphins, opiates and other feel-good chemicals in the brain, causing a calming effect. For this reason, acupuncture can effectively treat emotional conditions including stress, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. Many parents don’t know where to turn when their child is struggling with anger or depression, so this is where acupuncture can be a safe and effective alternative to medication and other therapies. Reducing stress at the life stage when people are most emotionally vulnerable- the teen years- is likely to result in a significant decrease in the mental health disorders faced by adults and the elderly.
If your teen is an athlete and involved in sports, acupuncture can also be a great way to help treat sports injuries and improve athletic performance. One of things I love most about coaching young athletes on my local high school mountain bike team is their willingness to listen and take sound advice from adults who are not their parents. Acupuncture sessions are a safe and private place for your teen to open up to their practitioner about their stress and discomfort- and also the underlying causes. At TCA our clinic is staffed by parents of teens, so we understand the challenges in working with this age group and also the profound opportunities to help these young people heal and become more open to new ideas about themselves and the world around them.
Just as you need to turn your electronic devices on and off to “reboot” the system and clear old programs that are running in the background, your body is the same. I’m guessing the average teenager these days has far more open browsers and programs running in their brain now with all of the time they spend on devices and in front of screens daily. We all need a reboot to start fresh on a regular basis and move what is stuck in a groove.
We would love to help introduce your teen to acupuncture. Please encourage them to give it a try! We have late afternoon and evening appointments available during the week to accommodate their busy schedules and may add more weekend hours down the road.
To compassion for the teen years,
Amie, Chalita and Heidi