The mounting pressures on kids these days from social circles and/or social media only compounds the normal, and apparently increasing pressures of schoolwork, extracurricular activities and overbearing/encouraging parents wanting their kids to get into college.* The New York Times has a piece about how some high schools are helping students cope with rising cases of mental stress, anxiety disorders and sleep deprivation by adding yoga classes, therapy dogs and short “recesses” in the day.
Abbie Kaplan, a junior at the Boston Latin School (a public high school that requires an entry exam) describes her typical routine:
On a scale of 1 to 10, she places her stress level at a pretty steady 9. She regularly has four hours of homework a night, some done before swim practice. She eats dinner around 9:30 p.m., then finishes the rest of her homework and generally goes to bed at 11:30. Then she’s up at 6 a.m. so she can be at school by 7:45.
She calls her hectic schedule “the new normal.”
“You keep telling yourself that it will prepare you for the future,” Kaplan says. “It’s just sort of how it is.”
We know that kids yoga is awesome, but it doesn’t stop at funsies and dragon pose. Teens are finding more demanded of them in a day and more signals to push even harder to move ahead, and not enough messages to slow down.
Overall, a recent national survey of adolescent mental health found that about 8 to 10 percent of teens ages 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder. And of those teens, only 18 percent received mental health care, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Raychelle Lohmann, a professional counselor and author based in South Carolina, concurs that any step schools take to reduce stress for students is a “step in the right direction.” She tells the NYT:
“We’re seeing parents who are putting their preschoolers in tutoring programs,” she says. “The intentions are good. But we’re missing the important point, to let them develop and play” – even in high school.
She says parents also have to model the behavior for their children.
“I’ll be honest. I’m guilty. I don’t take a day off,” she says. “But at some point, we just have to stop – and prioritize – and teach our children to do the same.
“We have to give up this ‘go, go, go’ mentality.”
We love our active, sweaty yoga, don’t get us wrong, but when these kids are doing yoga, to any of you facilitators out there, let’s give them the restorative stuff. As if the pressures of “being a kid” weren’t enough.
*Not to mention family socioeconomic status, environment, race, gender, or sexual preference.