The Burnout crisis in Youth is demanding new energy strategies.
Pressure to perform. Constant distraction. Fear of not belonging. Fear of the future. Fear of failure. Heightened emotions. Numbing of emotions. Not feeling understood. No one to trust. These are just some of the themes that emerged from a focus group of young people that we recently organised in an attempt to deepen our understanding of the pressures that they are currently facing.
In recent months, I have noticed a spike in my practice of young people between the ages of fourteen and 21 who are experiencing overwhelming stress and adrenalised energy manifesting as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, neurological disorders and burnout. Symptoms that we were seeing in adults are now being experienced in young people as early as age 12.
Are we awake enough to what is brewing in the hearts and minds of our children?
Are our current social, educational and health systems still in denial about the deep crisis that we face with regards to the wellbeing of our youth? Are we doing enough to understand and adapt to the rapidly changing needs of young people today? Are we really doing enough to equip our children to deal with a world that even we are struggling to understand? How do we even begin to answer these big questions?
Perhaps it begins with us having the courage to face the truth – that we don’t know the answers, but that if we create the right circumstances within ourselves and for them, we can co-create the solutions together.
This is what I have been taught by these bright and insightful young people I have the privilege of working with.
I have learnt that by creating a safe space for them to be heard, not judged and not being ‘lectured’, an opening is created for a real conversation.
I have learnt that by creating spaces that support belonging without conforming, each unique young person can contribute their wisdom and ideas in the most meaningful way.
I have learnt that it is imperative that we keep our children connected to their source of energy, creativity and imagination by allowing enough time to rest, play and sleep.
I have learnt that by retraining the art of relaxation into their systems, and rewiring the original connection to heart and mind, the body’s innate healing ability will kick in. It’s only in this state that nutrients can be absorbed, cells regenerated, and energy restored.
I have learnt that the ‘mirror neurons’ in the brains of young people will reflect the internal state of us as guides and authority figures. We cannot mask our own state of fear. Thus, we have a responsibility to be in integrity with who we are as parents, educators and caregivers and to be the change we wish to see.
I have learnt that the plastic nature of our brains is both a blessing and a curse. The energy of our attention will carve out grooves in the brain that will determine habits of thinking and behaviour.
Attention training, relaxation training, mindfulness and conscious breathing are becoming the ABC of the future, to support ourselves and our children to be heart-centred, authentically energised and courageous midwives of a new world.