The teenage years are littered with physical, educational, emotional and hormonal changes. These changes come with their own levels of stress and do not necessarily include the stress and chaos that may surround relationships, friendships and home life. Without tools and techniques to mitigate the stress, how are teenagers expected to manage?
“Although you may not be able to change your stressors, you can learn to change how you respond to them. It all begins with you taking charge of your emotions and how you respond in situations,” write the authors of Transforming Stress for Teens: HeartMath Solutions for Staying Cool Under Pressure.
Rollin McCraty, Sarah Moor, Jeff Goelitz and Stephen Lance teamed up to produce a book for teens that focuses on self-regulation through HeartMath. Transforming Stress for Teens is the culmination of the authors’ combined education and experience.
The guide for teens provides information and techniques that can help them create greater levels of resilience and coherence. The book touches on topics such as the effects of stress on the body, how our own coherence level interacts with others, how to shift our attitudes and how the techniques in the book can ultimately change our relationships.
HeartMath techniques are simple in description but powerful in action. Telling someone to breathe into the area of the heart may garner a raised eyebrow or a stifled chuckle from anyone; imagine attempting to explain that to a teenager. Thankfully, the authors are able to explain the HeartMath techniques thoroughly yet in a way that is accessible, practical and realistic. Discussion of each technique involves a breakdown of how to practice the technique, scenarios in which it may be helpful, the technique’s effect on the situation and on the body and sometimes a worksheet to accompany it.
One of the strengths of the book is that it silently acknowledges that some students of HeartMath will require a much more descriptive, step-by-step approach to the techniques, while others will only need a brief description of quick steps to understand.
Various side bars in the book describe situations in which teenagers have used the techniques and add a personal touch to the test by including quotes from teenagers to describe the stressors in their life. Uncomplicated action plans are also provided; on average, there are four steps to the action plans at the end of the chapters. While the book could be read straight through, if the reader practices the action plans as described, it would be best to work through these steps one by one over a period of time, rather than attempting to implement multiple new habits at once.
When writing for teenagers, there is a fine line to tread between enthusiasm and patronizing. The authors walk that line very carefully, and evoke a tone that is compassionate, respectful and encouraging. When books for teens try too hard to be “cool” and fail to hit the mark, or attempt to be overly enthusiastic and spill their own passion over into the readers, it’s easy to fall short. Fortunately for all teenagers who read this book, these authors avoid the patronizing and sugary-sweet platitudes. Their approach encompasses so much that the HeartMath protocol teaches: compassion, acceptance, and alignment.
I am a certified HeartMath coach, so some may believe that my review is biased. However, considering that I am trained in the techniques described in the book, it puts me in a strong position to critique the descriptions provided by the authors. It would be difficult for someone who is not well-versed in the techniques to fully appreciate how difficult it can be to describe the techniques in writing and to provide the information needed to understand their effects.
That disclosure aside, Transforming Stress for Teens is a wonderful resource for teens that are struggling with stress and anxiety. This would be an excellent gift for a teenager entering high school or even college. Since graduation season has just ended, perhaps consider getting the teenager in your life this book; they may find it incredibly useful as their life takes another great turn.
Transforming Stress for Teens: The HeartMath Solution for Staying Cool Under Pressure
Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Sarah Moor, Jeff Goelitz, and Stephen W. Lance, MS
New Harbinger Publications, August 2016
Softcover, 216 pages