Teen mental health can significantly benefit from the practice of mindful breathing, powerful breathwork techniques rooted in mindfulness and meditation. The Mayo Clinic explains that the practice of mindfulness involves focusing on “being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment without interpretation or judgment.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines breathwork as “conscious, controlled breathing done especially for relaxation, meditation, or therapeutic purposes.” It is a hypernym that encompasses a wide range of breathing exercises designed to enhance physical, spiritual, and mental health. Mindful breathing exercises aim to help an adolescent achieve a greater sense of self-awareness and trust in his or her capacity for self-healing. Research implies that mindful breathing techniques can effectively help with relaxation, stress management, control of psychophysiological states, and improve organ function. Common mindful breathing exercises that can promote teenage mental health include, but are not limited to, the following examples:
- Alternate nostril breathing: entails breathing through an alternate nostril, with each separate breath. It is used to relieve mental unrest and promote physical and mental balance.
- Diaphragmatic breathing: also called abdominal breathing or deep breathing, entails focusing on the stomach area when breathing, instead of the chest to encourage full oxygen exchange. Abdominal breathing calms the nervous system, increases oxygen to the heart, and relieves anxiety.
- Lion’s Breath: entails exhaling through an open mouth, with tongue hanging out, and making a noise while breathing out. Lion’s breath stimulates the throat and upper chest, and can improve circulation, eliminate toxins, and alleviate stress.
- Ujjayi Breath: entails taking long, deep breaths and exhaling slowly through the nose while constricting the muscles in the back of the throat to elicit a vibratory noise. It promotes relaxation by soothing the nervous system.
Mindful breathing offers a multitude of benefits for teen mental health. It can serve as a powerful stress-reduction technique. Through deliberate attention to each breath, mindful breathing triggers the body’s relaxation response, effectively lowering stress hormone levels and providing teens with a tangible means to manage and alleviate stress. Mindful breathing encourages adolescents to observe their emotions without judgment, creating a heightened self-awareness that allows for more effective regulation of emotional responses. Its capacity to reduce stress, enhance emotional regulation, and promote overall well-being positions it as a valuable resource for adolescents navigating the complexities of adolescence.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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