There are many tools and techniques that can be used to support teenage mental health treatment. Western science and health professionals recognize yoga and meditation as powerful tools for promoting teenage mental and physical well-being. Yoga is an ancient and complex spiritual practice developed over 5,000 years ago that is rooted in Indian philosophy. As per Yogic scriptures the practice of yoga is based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. Medical News Today cites scientific research from a variety of sources that demonstrate some of the physical and mental health benefits of practicing yoga:
- Boosts mood: One study revealed that after engaging in 3 months of consistent yoga, teenagers experienced decreases in anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
- Builds self-confidence: In a study to assess attention and self-esteem in girls using an integrated yoga module, underprivileged high school students reported improvement in attention and self-esteem. It was reported that practicing yoga also enhanced their mental health and led to academic improvement.
- Stimulates brain function: Results from a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, found that after just one 20 minute yoga session, participants were able to focus better, process information more accurately and also learn, hold, and update pieces of information more effectively.
- Fosters emotional awareness: Scandinavian researchers measured brain waves before and after a 2-hour yoga class and found that alpha waves (relaxation) and theta waves (unconscious memory, dreams, emotions) increased significantly, which indicates that the brain is deeply relaxed after yoga and that participants have better awareness of their subconscious and emotions.
Studies have also found that a “regular practice of yoga promotes strength, endurance, flexibility and facilitates characteristics of friendliness, compassion, and greater self-control, while cultivating a sense of calmness and well-being” in teens.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health explains that meditation is a mind-body activity intended to promote relaxation, help people cope with illnesses, and improve well-being. The impact of meditation on adolescent mental health is diverse and expanding. Meditation can be highly beneficial for teenagers because it:
- Reduces stress and anxiety: A review study at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine concluded that “meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as … antidepressants.”
- Promotes mindfulness: A mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) study found that students who practiced mindfulness reduced their anxiety, excessive worry and negative thought patterns. Mindfulness training also improved their emotional well-being, professional development, and resiliency to stress.
- Improves focus and memory: A study at Harvard Medical School showed that a regular practice of meditation over time increases the thickness of the areas of the brain associated with well-being, self-regulation, and learning in teenagers.
The mindful practices of yoga and meditation develop the parts of the brain that regulate impulse control, which are directly linked to how teens react to stress, challenging emotions, and difficult to navigate situations. Ongoing research consistently supports the important role these mindfulness-based practices play in teenage mental health treatment.
For Information and Support
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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