Relaxation for Teenagers
It seems ironic that nature should match our middle aged years, when we are starting to slow down and requiring a bit more rest, with the arrival of teenagers!
As a mother of two children (12 and 17) and step-mother to three children (20, 13 and 11) my partner and I are surrounded by growing adolescents most of the time. We are often known to have up to six, seven or even eight young adults “hanging out” at our house at weekends.
As much as I enjoyed their babyhoods and developing childhoods, I have to say I am also enjoying their teenage years. Teenagers can be “testing” that’s for sure, but I firmly believe that, if allowed the space and time they require to relax, your household really needn’t be so fraught with tension.
What Is Happening To My Child?
Much like the early stages of childhood development, when a newborn baby develops into a toddler, puberty is also a time for significant growth and development. During this rapid growth period, a child’s bones can sometimes grow much faster than their muscles develop, often causing significant aches and pains particularly in the muscles surrounding the longer bones, such as the femur (leg) and spine (back).
A teenager is also at greater risk of injury and muscle strain from playing vigorous sport or simply from carrying heavy bags and books to and from school.
Erratic sleep patterns can start to interfere with the body too. Teenagers require more sleep than an average adult, around 9¼ hours (according to the National Sleep Foundation). But teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week, typically staying up late and sleeping in late on the weekends.
For older teenagers it is more difficult to discourage this type of arrangement, as it is around this time when a typical 16-19 year old will want to spend less time at home and more time partying or staying over at friends. As parents of two teenage sons ourselves, myself and my partner are only too aware of the vast array of sofas, beanbags or various bedroom floors that are often substituted for a comfy mattress!
It is also around this time that we would have hoped our own dietary influences would have come into play, but it is perhaps more realistic to expect a teenager to be tempted into a less than ideal diet of fizzy drinks, fast food and eventually alcohol.
As if all this isn’t enough, the surge of hormones experienced throughout puberty give rise to unpredictable mood swings, skin outbreaks due to rise in bacteria forming acids, increased sweating, and even bouts of depression, aggression and anxiety.
Armed with all this knowledge and coupled with the extra pressure of exams, there is little wonder that life for a teenager is not as easy as we are sometimes led to believe. This is where I believe relaxation is of significant importance to a teenager, which includes the benefits of massage, which I frequently use to relax and de-stress my own children.
So How Can a Teenager Benefit From Massage?
Taking all the above factors into consideration, there is no doubt that the body is put under enormous strain during the teenage years.
The relaxation benefits of massage are widely known for people of all ages, so massage is a great way torelax your child. Massage can also give a number of physical benefits to your teenage child. Massage increases the blood circulation and it is this fresh oxygenated blood that is essential for muscle recovery, be it from carrying those heavy bags, playing vigorous sport or through bad posture caused by slumping over desks, sleeping on sofas, chairs, floors etc.
Massage also stimulates the lymphatic drainage system which is responsible for eliminating waste and built up toxins that accumulate when our bodies are put under strain. This in turn will help the child’s system cope with that less than ideal diet, common skin outbreaks and body odours.
Massage soothes the autonomic nervous system (this is the part that we cannot control, i.e. breathing, heartbeat, digestion), thereby encouraging a better mind and body balance.
Aside from the relaxation and physical benefits, massaging your child can help improve their body image and contribute to decreased depression, anxiety and stress. According to Eeris Kallil, massage therapist and shiatsu instructor at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy in Colorado, “Massage helps teenagers stay grounded“. It helps keep a teen stay connected to her body, even as it morphs in confounding ways.
As we become more body aware during adolescence, it is important for a teenager to maintain a healthy self image. Many teenagers are self-conscious and are not happy with their bodies or parts of it. Massage and bodywork has been reported to help mediate eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, a growing issue among teenagers.
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