fbpx

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 122 – Herbs for Teens: Anxiety and Stress Support

Is your teen feeling anxious and stressed?

Do they have trouble sleeping, suffer from panic attacks, have trouble eating, focusing on schoolwork, feel physically sick with nausea, headaches, stomachaches, or diarrhea?

Are they depressed, forgetful, or even careless?

These are all warning signs of too much stress in a teen’s life.

Just what do teens have to be stressed about?

Quizzes.

Tests.

Teachers.

Homework.

College applications.

Friendships.

Crushes.

Friends.

Foes.

Bullies.

Family problems.

Finances.

World Events.

Moving.

The list of stressors in a teen’s life can get pretty long and teens often have a harder time adapting to stress than adults due to the hormones raging through their bodies.

What are some ways to alleviate stress and anxiety?

The most important thing teens can do to help their stress and anxiety is to practice good self care habits: eating healthy, drinking lots of water, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, taking up an enjoyable pastime or hobby, and practicing yoga or meditation all can go a long way to help lower stress and anxiety levels.

Eating more healthy

Ask your teen to sit down with you and help you plan out a menu for the week’s meals. Having them be a part of the meal decisions will help empower them to make good food choices, especially when they can have a say in the meals being prepared. Talk about the importance of a variety of foods with eat meal. Try to plan meals that are colorful and have lots of texture.

Get them involved with food prep. On weekends, spend Sunday afternoon chopping and prepping vegetables to be cooked during the week. This will help make mealtime preparations easier, and give them a task to do that shows they are a valued member of the household and their help is important for making weekday meals easier for all.

Drinking enough water

If your teen struggles with drinking enough water throughout the day, fill a jar with the amount they should drink in a 24 hour period and challenge them to get through it in a day. Though water amounts vary, a good general rule of thumb is to drink about half your body weight in ounces each day. This is a great challenge for adults too! Have a jar for each member of the household and keep track – whoever meets their daily quota the most throughout the week could get a reward. The reward could be as simple as a back rub from someone else in the family (perhaps the one who drank the least?) or having a chore completed for them.

Exercising regularly

Help your teen to create an exercise routine that appeals to them. My daughter loves to dance and does ballet, jazz, and modern in an excess of 6 hours a week. My son love to ride his bike, scooter and rip stick. A special treat is going to the skate park so he can do tricks on his scooter. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or monotonous. It should be something fun that keeps them moving.

Getting enough sleep

School schedules can wreak havoc on a teen’s natural tendency to stay up late and sleep in. Homeschoolers can often be more flexible, allowing teens to sleep as long as they need every day. If your teen has to get up early in the morning, make sure they are setting realistic bedtime goals and sticking to them. Stating the obvious – it’s easier to get up in the morning when you’ve gone to be early enough, you feel so much better when you get enough sleep – might make them rebel depending on their temperament. Encourage them to turn off their phones/computers/tablets an hour before bedtime and creating a ritual to help them wind down and get ready for bed.

Taking up an enjoyable pastime or hobby

Encourage your teen to take up a hobby that they enjoy doing. This can be something that gets them active such as hiking, bike riding, or even geocaching, or something a bit more relaxing such as painting, sewing, writing poetry or short stories, or starting a collection (rocks, cards, coins, etc). Doing something enjoyable is helpful for getting their mind off of their stressors.

Practicing yoga or meditation

Doing calming activities such as yoga, tai chi or meditation helps to calm the mind and relax the body and all have many health benefits, including reducing stress. Offer to take a class with your teen at the local yoga studio or explore meditation apps and learn to meditate together. My favorite app for meditation is Insight Timer which offers thousands of free meditations that are organized based on themes to help you find the perfect meditation.

What herbs help with stress and anxiety?

In addition to lifestyle habits, there are many herbs that can help with stress and anxiety. They should be incorporated into the day to support your teen’s mental health.

Try out a few of these herbs in conjunction with the lifestyle habits to help support your teen and reduce their stress and anxiety.

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)

Oats are so great for the nervous system. Taking an oatmeal bath can help to soothe stress and calm the nerves.

Milky Oats are the tops of oats that are harvested while in a juicy stage. These tops are great as an infusion. They are sweet to taste and can be drank hot or cold. Consuming Milky Oats infusions several times a week will support the nervous system and help teens to be more calm and relaxed.

Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina)

Wild Cherry can help to stop a panic attack when taken quick enough. I like to utilize Wild Cherry as a tincture for this purpose as it helps to ease hyperventilation and calm nervous agitation.

To use, take 30-60 drops at first sign of anxiety or a panic attack and repeat every 20-30 minutes as needed.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita, Chamaemelum nobile), Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Lemon Balm, Chamomile and Catnip all are great for easing stress and anxiety, especially when physical symptoms such as nausea, stomachaches, and other digestive issues appear. These can all be drank as a tea or taken as a tincture when your teen needs a gentle herb to help soothe them. Serve the tea with a dollop of honey if preferred or drink as is.

These can all be utilized as a tincture as well. To use, take 30-60 drops.

Rose (Rosa spp.), Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)

The scents of Rose and Lavender are very calming and soothing. These two herbs are very versatile. Sachets of either or both can be tucked into a pillowcase to help encourage restful sleep, or added to an eye pillow for extra relaxation during meditation or yoga. They can be added into a tea blend or taken as a tincture.

Try combining them with some of the other herbs mentioned to make a tea blend.

Watch out for the prickly bracts on the flowers!

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Motherwort is great for frazzled nerves, especially when accompanied by premenstrual syndrome, which can make anxiety and stress even worse. This herb is bitter so it’s best taken as a tincture in a bit of water.

To use, have your teen take 30 drops 2-3 times daily. This herb is helpful for young men too!

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

California Poppy and Passionflower are great to have on hand when your teen needs something to help her sleep. Passionflower is especially great for shutting off the continuous dialogue that can plague her brain when she wants to relax and sleep but is worried about an upcoming test or interview.

Try 30 drops or either or both in a bit of water immediately before bed. Follow up in 30 minutes if sleep is still elusive.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao)

Many people talk about eating chocolate when they are depressed. There is some basis to this as Cacao can boost serotonin and endorphin levels to encourage renewed energy and positive moods.

Cacao acts similarly to herbs that also contain caffeine, though Cacao does not affect the central nervous system in the same way, especially in regards to disturbing sleep as caffeine can, making this herb a great way to relax in the evening without worrying about staying up all night because of the caffeine. At the same time, Cacao can help to energize your teen while calming the nervous system, allowing them to focus and get work done.

Try a cup of hot cacao by mixing 1 tablespoon of cacao in hot water or milk (oat milk is my favorite for this) and adding 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and honey to sweeten. For a bit of spice, add a dash of cayenne!

Reishi (Ganoderma spp.)

It’s important to support the body’s adrenals and nervous system when stressed. Adding adaptogens is a great way to support both. As an adaptogen, Reishi helps our bodies to handle stress and normalize body functions. In addition, Reishi helps promote more restful sleep and relieve anxiety. People who consume Reishi on a regular basis tend to fall asleep faster, sleep deeper and feel more rested upon waking. During the waking hours, Reishi gives energy, focus and calmness which helps to reduce mental and physical stress.

Your teen can try Reishi as a tincture, 30 drops 1-2 times daily (try adding it to the Cacao recipe), or as a decoction, by adding 1/2 ounce dried Reishi to 4 cups of water and soaking overnight. In the morning, pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stain the mushrooms out of the liquid and add honey to sweeten and milk to taste.

Want More Tips On Stress and Anxiety For Teens?

All this month I’m posting on teen herbalism over on Instagram. Follow me and get additional tips, recipes, and ideas for helping your teens navigate their ever changing bodies using herbs. Be sure to go back to the beginning of the month to read through all the posts!


Want to Leave a Reply?