Doesn’t it seem like life only gets busier and that there is more and more information coming at us all the time? There is too much information out there to take in and process! The human nervous system has never had a physiologic ‘upgrade’ to be able to handle this level of over-stimulation. As a result, a lot of us feel overwhelmed, anxious, and have difficulties concentrating and sleeping well.
Because the nervous system isn’t fully developed until age twenty-five, the impact of our modern lifestyle is felt even more deeply by children and adolescents. A striking example – digital screens affect the frontal cortex of the brain and alter dopamine levels much in the same way that stimulating drugs like cocaine affect the brain. This level of sensory data in combination with the added burdens of environmental toxicity and nutritional deficits are compromising children’s nervous system health. They are at a disadvantage for todays’ rigorous (and often unreasonable) classroom demands. It’s not surprising at all that attention, focus and behavior are common concerns.
As a naturopathic physician in practice for over 15 yrs, I have seen just how dramatically the lives and health of children have changed. Anxiety levels in little ones have risen remarkably. In supporting children and adolescents to feel clearer, calmer and more focused, I like to focus on boosting brain health, managing daily stressors, and building nervous system resilience.
In supporting overall brain health – I encourage parents to eliminate foods with additives, dyes, processed sugars and taking a look at potentially inflammatory foods that can impact focus, energy and mood. I encourage parents to take a look at protein content of foods – making sure there is protein at each meal. This balances blood sugar – which works wonders for balanced energy and moods. The developing brain requires a plethora of natural plant based vitamins and minerals for repair and essential fatty acids for optimal nerve cell membrane function.
I love making nature prescriptions to help children and families manage stress – children thrive in the outdoors! There is so much great information out there about the healthy benefits of earthing – or connecting our body’s electromagnetic field with that of the earth’s. It is powerful for discharging stress and reseting the nervous system. Think bare feet in sand or grass for 10-15 minute daily.
Because children and adolescents are so open and sensitive, they respond really well to energetic bodywork. I incorporate craniosacral therapy in my practice – a gentle system that eases the nervous system out of fight or flight and back into the restorative parasympathetic state. This modality in combination with guided visualization is really effective for improving adaptation to stress, boosting concentration and improving sleep quality.
Our children don’t have to be at a disadvantage as we life life in the fast lane. We just need to implement wellness strategies at a much earlier age. Gone are the days when kids could get away with fast foods as a nutritional mainstay, and no one is too young to begin a daily mind body practice for calming and strengthening the nervous system.