Do relaxation lessons for hyped-up kids work?

In a community hall in Chingford, East London, a small group of teenagers are lying on mats on the floor. Covered in blankets and clutching teddy bears, they, to the uninformed eye, look as if they went for a kip at nap time in playgroup ten years ago and never quite got around to waking up. After all, teens don’t usually “do” teddy bears in group settings.

But they are not sleeping. They are in a state of deep relaxation, induced by the tranquil tones of Usha Chudasama, who is running stress-busting workshops for children and teenagers called The Healing Feeling 4 Kids. This particular workshop consists of five, three-hour sessions of various therapeutic techniques, based on the teachings of Louise Hay, the Heal Your Life self-help guru. Hay’s work focuses on the body-mind connection, linking physical ailments with emotional states, asserting that meditation, affirmations and visualisation exercises can lead to wellness and inner tranquillity.

By the end of the morning they are clearly blissed out. Hudisi, 15, sums up the feelgood factor: “My mum suggested I come here because I have a problem expressing my emotions. But I feel very relaxed now.”

Tools to deal with future stresses

While it is tempting to dismiss releasing feelings to the elements as New Age crankiness, if it works for teenagers, whose hormonally charged moods can lead to much family disharmony, why knock it? Indeed, The Healing Feeling is one of several workshops and lessons geared specifically to destressing overwrought children and teens. Others include Relax Kids, a class and home-based series of guided relaxation sessions for children, and YogaBugs, which runs classes based on yoga postures, breathing and meditations for children. Both cater for stressed-out children, though neither would say that is a unique selling point. Rather, they are giving children the tools to deal with future stresses, and showing them that there is more to downtime than slumping in front of the telly.

Barbara Herts, the chief executive of the young people’s mental health charity Young-Minds, says: “Today’s fast pace and often confusing world can have a real and lasting effect on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people. With increases in stressful events such as exam pressure, family breakdown and bullying, we are experiencing more triggers to stress and anxiety in young people.”

Source - Times