Helping teens deal with stress
Mydaughter has school exams at the moment and is getting increasingly stressed. She is also becoming more and more fussy with food as a result, often forgetting to eat or exclaiming, ‘‘she’s unable to digest anything.’’ What can I do to help her? With thanks, Jenny.
Hi Jenny. I think the first place to start is to address how you can help her with the things she can control. These include the rituals she puts in place to help manage the stress and the way she nourishes herself. In times of increasing stress or pressure many of us discard the rituals that actually help us to modulate the stress response. If she’s open to these things I would suggest a regular yoga, meditation or breath-based practice.
There is no better way to bring about calm in the body than through extending the length of each breath. Being really disciplined about sleep and ensuring she is getting at least eight hours will be one of, if not, the most effective things she can do to manage her stress response. This is one of the most effective ways of bringing the nervous system back into balance.
The next step is to look at stimulants in the diet. Is she drinking coffee, soft drinks, eating lots of chocolate and so on? Excess caffeine (the amount is different for everyone) can result in feelings of irritability, anxiety, heart palpitations as it leads the body to make adrenalin.
When you’re stressed your body naturally makes adrenalin, so it’s best to avoid consuming things that further exacerbate the issue. The feeling of not being able to digest anything is a natural reaction from the stress response. See if she is better with soups, smoothies and slow-cooked foods, such as casseroles during this particular period, as they’re typically easier to digest.
If you feel like she is an ‘internaliser’ and is really not coping well it could be really beneficial to have her talk to a qualified counsellor or psychologist. They will assist with helping her to understand how she can support herself emotionally. Many young women are ‘pleasers’ and put additional pressure on themselves to perform and live up to their own expectations and they unknowingly perceive that they need to be ‘‘perfect’’ to be loved/ liked/accepted.
I’m trying to find more ways for myfamily to eat more cauliflower, as I’ve read about its benefits. Kind regards, Raewyn
Hi Raewyn. Cauliflower contains sulphoraphane, a potent antioxidant, that also supports your liver detoxification pathways in a number of ways. It contains antioxidants that support Phase 1 detoxification along with sulphur-containing nutrients that support Phase 2 detox activity. Here are a few ideas for incorporating more
cauliflower in your diet:
Swap mashed potato for cauliflower mash – while there is nothing wrong with potato, cooked cauliflower can make a beautiful puree/mash, which can easily be used in place of mashed potato. Simply steam cauliflower until it’s soft, season and puree with olive oil and parsley.
Roasted cauliflower – roasted cauliflower is delicious! Cut into large chunks and sprinkle with cumin seasons, turmeric, olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven until slightly golden.
Cauliflower soup – one of my favourite soup combos is cauliflower and broccoli. Add to the nutritional benefits of this combination by including garlic and onions. A nourishing winter option!
Dr Libby is speaking across the country during October with her From Surviving to Thriving tour. More information and tickets available from www.drlibby.com
It could be beneficial to have your child talk to a qualified counsellor or psychologist if he or she is struggling during exam time.