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Teen: Time for some health TLC

This year, more than ever, our teens have had a tough time. With researchers assessing the long-term impact of COVID on children’s mental wellbeing and educational progression, this is a fantastic time to give our teens some TLC.

It would be easy for us older adults to look at the time that our teens have had over the past three months and think that they’ve had it pretty easy; no exams, schoolwork from home, no clubs, no pressure.  But in truth, the isolation that many have felt, the lack of routine, the having to self-motivate, the lack of normal societal support systems, all means that our teens might be feeling a little unsettled.

They might have missed sitting exams, but are still waiting for results. They might have had the pressure off in terms of sporting competitions, but they’ve missed seeing their friends. So what can we do to help our teens feel happy and healthy in the months ahead?

Teens and stress

Stress affects us all, but at a time of life when everything can seem physiologically and mentally intense, teenagers can really feel it deeply.

Social health studies have shown that teenagers are subject to peer pressure, feel the need to compete in a very materialistic, high-pressured world, are trying to find their identity and are very aware of image. That’s a lot to take on board.

If you’re aware of a teenager who is finding life a little tough, a practitioner will be able to help them holistically, looking at all areas of their health and making recommendations. You could read up on:

Herbal remedies: Visiting a herbal practitioner is a sensible idea when it comes to teenagers. Calminative herbs such as valerian, passiflora and hops might be recommended, as might adaptogenic herbs (which help the body to adapt to stress) such as ginseng.

Medium potency multi-nutrient: Diet is often compromised in stressful situations, so it makes sense to take a formulation containing all water and fat soluble nutrients, and a good mineral complex (especially iron and calcium for girls).

Essential oils: calming essential oils such as neroli, lavender, chamomile and can be used very simply by putting on a tissue and then on a radiator (for the boys) or used to massage the hands.

Flower Remedies: Perhaps not the best sounding option for the lads (sounds very pretty?), but there are ways around this. Look out for products containing more manly named plants such as chestnut, star of Bethlehem and impatiens, which are all used in situations of stress, anxiety or apprehension.

Memory and concentration

Over the past five years, real interest has been placed on the use of food and nutrition for memory and concentration. We know, from studies on breakfast cereals, that those who eat in the morning have better concentration throughout the day than those who skip it, and we know that children who are properly hydrated also keep their concentration and cognitive performance better than those who are dehydrated.

Fish oils have received great scientific interest. Research from Durham Local Education Authority showed that fish oils improved concentration in those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and this backed up previous studies which saw that fish oils could help children of normal concentration and learning too. If you’re interested in this aspect of learning, then it would be beneficial to talk with a nutritional practitioner, as they can guide you on suitable intakes, and other brain-boosting techniques such as whole food eating (low glycaemic index foods; nuts, seeds and pulses and wholegrain cereals and their products), eating best at certain times of the day, plus emotional triggers to eating and which foods to avoid.

Helping them have good skin

It’s amazing how skin health can impact on confidence and emotional wellbeing, with some struggling with acne and spot breakouts. As well as seeing medical advice, there are some self-help products that can help manage the cleanliness of the skin, and manage common spot-causing bacteria. 

Of course, when a teen does get a spot, it’s likely that they’ll be thinking of all kinds of ways to bring them to a head to get rid of them, using all manner of poking, prodding and popping which can increase risk of infection.

Thankfully, there are all kinds of natural remedies that you can recommend to them.Nature’s most popular antimicrobial for skin health has to be tea tree. Available in all kinds of soaps, gels and washes, it really can help to keep infection-causing bacteria at bay. It can also be used to help manage the reoccurrence of spots – especially in cases of acne.  Vitamin E creams are also highly useful, as this vitamin is skin-restorative, and helps to keep scarring to a minimum. Zinc supplements may also be useful as research has shown that this mineral helps to minimise the effects of scarring. As well as this, keeping the skin well-conditioned should be a must for every teenager.  Deep cleansing using sea mud masks, or exfoliating using gels or creams containing micro beadlets or crushed nut shells or wheat germ husks can help the skin to keep smooth. Look out for moisturisers which are vitamin rich. Not only do these have some serious street cred (competing with expensive high street brands for kudos!), they will also help to keep the skin well nourished and fresh.

Let’s get personal

If teenage girls are finding that they are less than fresh at certain times of the month, then it might be wise to try cotton, non-bleached, organic tampons or sanitary towels. These have proved very useful to girls who might be prone to thrush, or skin sensitivities.

When it comes to being socially accepted, it’s important that teenagers find a good deodorant. Instead of highly chemical conventional brands, they could consider using a mineral salt product which halts the growth of odour-causing bacteria. These look incredibly cool, and appeal to teenagers need to have a differential!

Make a point of teenagers having their own products – which not only safeguards the whole family’s hygiene, but also shows that they can take ownership of their health. Don’t just get them the bare basics either. Why not treat them to some wonderful organic, luxurious soaps containing lavender or wild rose for the girls, and, perhaps, sandalwood or peppermint for the boys. Organic toothpastes, shampoos and conditioners give them a sense of using products with a purpose, and something to preach to the world about. Getting them products which are different from yours will most certainly be a winner, simply because, well, it’s nothing like you.

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Healthy Does It Features Writer

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