Young people face a number of challenges, from pressures at school to relationships. Children and adolescents are still developing their personality and learning about how to relate to others.
A study by the charity YMCA among 1,600 16 to 25 year olds found that pressures to do well in exams at school, family problems, body image issues and using social media were among the key worries. Finding a job was also a cause of stress among young people.
Studying for exams and any anxiety about exam results may take up a lot of mental space in young people. Their growing brain needs both stimulation and rest, but a constant state of stress can affect mental health negatively. Children, in particular, may not know how to verbalise their concerns and parents need to pay attention to any changes in their children’s behaviour, for example if they start being overly quiet and withdrawn.
If you also consider the amount of time youngsters spend on social media and other screen-based activities (gaming, browsing the internet), distractions can interfere with studying and learning. Unfortunately we can’t ignore other factors like online bullying, or simply any disparaging comments on social media that affect a young person’s confidence.
Growing up, youngsters can feel awkward and uncomfortable, and they may bottle up emotions instead of talking openly about their feelings.
As the founder of BeSophro and as a Sophrology practitioner, I can confirm that learning how to manage stress at a young age served me well in life. When I was a teenager I felt anxious and under pressure with my school and sport commitments. The anxiety made me sleep badly at night, I felt constantly tired and I was getting a number of unexplained minor illnesses. When my family doctor recommended I try Sophrology, I didn’t know what to expect. I remember very clearly that, during my first session, I felt that I was listened to and I learned that I could change my situation. I had never felt so calm and relaxed before and I was looking forward to having more sessions. I can safely say that Sophrology changed my life for the better.
Professor Marcel Rufo, a famous French paediatric psychiatrist and medical director of the Salvator Hospital in Marseille, believes that young people experience a number of challenges, some of which are created by the parents themselves. Parents may put too much pressure on their adolescent children, or not pay enough attention to them.
Children and adolescents may have a number of issues that they don’t know how to deal with, including lacking attention, having troubles sleeping, hyperactivity and hormonal changes. Students may find it difficult to focus and memorise information if they are feeling stressed.
Young people need support and reassurance to develop emotionally. Professor Rufo talks about the “telecommunications generation”: youngsters tend to spend many hours a day glued to a screen. He sees Sophrology as an important tool for adolescents to help them grow their self-esteem and self-confidence by becoming more aware of their body and the mind-body connection.
Using Sophrology can help establish a healthy mind-body relationship. Through simple breathing exercises and movement, young people can learn how to relax and feel how the relaxation affects their body positively. With visualisation, they can familiarise themselves with focusing on a positive outcome instead of being overwhelmed by worry.
How Sophrology Can Help
As parents, we want our children to be happy and we want the best in life for them. We may not have all the knowledge at our disposal to help our young grow to become happy and balanced adults, but we can learn along the way.
Parents cannot be expected to do it all and be their children’s therapist, but they can offer support and have open conversations with their children. This is important to build children’s and young people’s confidence.
As a start, parents could try Sophrology for themselves as our inner state directly reflect on our family, especially our children, who pick up on everything, even the subtle things. They can then have a conversation with their children about anything that is troubling them and offer to take them to a few Sophrology sessions explaining them what it did for them.
Sophrology is a practical approach to stress management and self-development that allows to stimulate resilience, build a positive attitude and outlook on life, grown confidence and self–esteem as well as helping us to deal with everyday life challenges, from managing stress to preparing for events (competitions, speeches, exams).
Resilience enables us to deal with our daily life with a sense of calm.
It is a great skill to cultivate at any point in life: learning how to draw from one’s own inner strength can help in any situation, no matter how challenging. To be able to be resilient at a young age can serve any child and young person.
Sophrology is simple to learn, adaptable to all ages and abilities and if practised regularly over a few weeks, it can be life-changing.