Teenagers are not children, nor are they adults, they are in a state of flux. For some puberty can come on early, hormonal changes happen quickly. There is a surge of energy, heat or what we call Yang in Chinese medicine. This can be hard to manage, not knowing how to deal with these sudden changes.
As we know change is the only constant in our life. For teenagers, adolescence is characterised by many changes, from body shape, size and smell, to friendships, relationships with parents and siblings. There are may expectations on them, however, they have a change in focus and their emotional landscape. Previously life had been focused on family, this transition sees them focusing more on friendship groups. Emotional change can be due to being more tuned into what was background noise or information. They become more aware of what is going on around them, even if they don’t display this behaviour and seem aloof.
Social media may be the one and only thing that is constant in their lives, life is under the glare of everyone around them. Each post out to their audience can change their mood, and time spent on social media can lead to depression, the impact is pervasive and negative. There can be a rise in loneliness, isolation and depression. It is ironic that loneliness and isolation replace face to face with online contact. A higher rate of anxiety and depression draws them more toward social media, and it becomes a vicious circle.
For teenagers who spend more time playing computer games or are on digital media, agitation and changes in their adrenaline are noticed. There is an overload of stimulation for the sense organs, a rise in noise, images for the eyes, they can become more jittery. Adrenaline increases with competitiveness, aggression and even a sense of grumpiness. This is a rise in Yang to the head, inducing a counterflow of the natural movement of qi or energy, that should flow around the body, not upward. There is stagnation, from sitting at great lengths of time, again, the flow is broken. For some, they only feel good when the adrenaline is pumping through the body, and when the gaming finishes they feel depressed or flat.
Social media has a similar response, with agitation, unable to feel the stillness, calmness within. A constant checking in, looking for a message or alike, confirmation of all is ok, if not there is a change in mood, it can deplete the spirit of the teen. There are other causes of changing emotions from lack of sleep, which can lead to an influx of sugar for the extra energy required. Angry outbursts, a lack of self-awareness, increased assertion or independence can be traits that are now seen in the teenager you have living in your home.
From a Chinese medicine viewpoint and that of a mother of two young adults with experience, teenagers can avoid what is really happening, and this can lead to an outburst of intense emotions. These emotions are unresolved, held onto to create a large imbalance in their energy or Qi. You can see repetitive patterns, where they are not sitting with difficult emotions, those that are challenging or strong. Impacting on the flow or balance within their body. The enormous surges of Yang energy allow them to become liberated from childhood and family. Independence is present, although there can be a struggle with change, finding it difficult with the shift in their energetic state. It’s like surfing a big wave, there are times when they cannot stay upright, practice is required, time is required to adjust to this abundant energy that surges through the body. For some, they are unaware of their physical presence, they take up a lot of space energetically, and seem to be unaware that they are doing this.
This surge of Yang is from the kidneys, awakening their sexual energy, an awareness of the sexual aspect of self. This can lead to intense feelings, being very passionate, and lead to extreme emotions. Enthusiasm can change quickly, fuelled by the surges of Yang. This Yang can cause them to energetically open up, and gently teasing can escalate to anger in response. The flux of change can cause stress, and this is a time for them to receive extra support, so there is a smooth process for the change. Being able to do this can be tricky as a parent, without a teenager feeling like you are nagging them or hassling them to be doing more. It is important to pick one or two things to focus on, give expectations with advice, this advice must be perceived to be important for them to follow through.
Placing in boundaries at this time is important, as life long habits are formed. Fifty per cent of mental health conditions start at age fourteen, correcting imbalances within the body is important before this age. If this is not possible having systems set in place with acupuncture can help with repressed emotions, eating disorders, sleep issues and stress, or not feeling good about themselves. When teenagers have treatment, whether it is acupuncture or a non-invasive style of care, they open up, talk and reveal information about what is happening in their internal world. The overall benefits are an increase in self-awareness and that of others, and this then forms a habit, that self-care is required throughout life to ensure there is a balance.