The words “teen” and “stress” are synonyms. The tumultuous teenage years span a period of growth from young teens, stressed about fitting in; becoming more independent of their parents, to older teens, stressed about getting a job or going to college and moving fully into lives of their own. From pimples to peer pressure, to academic competition, to popularity contests, to cliques, to clothes, to standardized tests—stress is built into the teenage years. And in the case of teens today, who are considered “digital natives” all of the social media activities — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram— the list goes on—where you’re on display 24/7/365.
How can teens deal with all of this? What’s a way to get through rather than breaking down? One path that is gaining worldwide popularity is “mindfulness,” which is all about how to stay in the present moment and be observant about one’s thoughts and feelings rather than get embroiled in them. One great description of mindfulness is by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leader in the mindfulness movement, who said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
What is mindfulness all about and how can it help teens with all the stresses that they have as they transition from middle school to high school and from high school to a job or college? Our guest on this episode — Dr. Dzung Vo — tackles these questions. Dr. Vo is the author of the recently published book, The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time. Dr. Vo is a pediatrician who specializes in adolescent medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia. On staff at Columbia Children’s Hospital, he is also an assistant professor on the Faculty of Medicine at the the University of British Columbia. Dr Vo created his own website, which is a treasure chest of supportive material, including downloadable sound files of meditations, worksheets, and other helpful information.
Whether your a teen, a parent of one, or a teacher or someone who works with teens, this episode will gives tools and theory to support the journey called “the teenage years.” Stress definitely affects a teen’s performance— academically, socially, athletically, on stage and in every area of his or her life. For more about stress and performance you can explore Dr. B’s website and his training model for reducing stress to be your best.