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Why Reducing Your Child’s Stress Today is Actually Bad for Them

Why Reducing Your Child’s Stress Today is Actually Bad for Them

Last week I went to hear a speaker at our school. The topic was stress. As a meditation teacher and happiness coach I would like to think that my children have been given all the tools they need to cope with the regular stressors in their lives however my family has a long history of anxiety so I felt a need to go just in case there was something I could learn about the genetics of stress.

Lynn Lyons was the speaker and I highly recommend her book Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents. The evening contained some neuroscience, some personal stories and some practical applications but my biggest take away was this simple sentence:

Your child’s anxiety is your fault. If it’s nature, it’s your fault. If it’s nurture it’s your fault.

Pretty bold words but shatteringly true.

Science has not been able to discover an anxiety gene. What it has discovered is a pattern of anxiety that is somehow passed down from one generation to the next. North America currently reports its highest incidence of stress ever. One in five adults are medicated for stress or depression (two sides of the same coin). The part that scares me is that when asked, fifty percent of adults said they would prefer to have a prescription than to learn meditation or mindful breathing techniques to decrease stress.

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What Is Stress and Why Is It So Bad?

Anxiety is an overestimation of the problem and an underestimation of your ability to deal with the problem.

Stress is the activation of our fight or flight system. It was really useful in prehistoric times when we were in danger of being eaten by a dinosaur. When the dinosaur starts to chase you your body here’s what happens:

1. „Increase in blood pressure- this allows you to run fast and get away.

„2. Clotting of blood platelets- in case the dinosaur bites you, you are less likely to bleed out.

„3. Releases stress hormones – gives you that superhuman burst that lets moms lift cars off babies.

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„4. Decreased growth hormones, decrease circulation to digestive tract- these are all systems of the body that are not needed to flee or fight, so they are temporarily turned off to allow the other systems to use the body’s full available resources.

„5. Weakened immunity- the body takes its focus of the non-essential services to allow all energy to be involved in saving itself.

Here’s the problem; in today’s world stress is provoked not by dinosaurs but by encountering obstacles to getting what we want, things like traffic, public speaking, being misunderstood in conversation, failing a test or losing a job. The long term exposure to the chemicals our body releases when fight or flight is enabled causes health issues like coronary heart disease, insomnia, addictions, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, infections, cancer, heart attacks, strokes and digestive disturbances.

Knowing this makes a parent want to alleviate any potential stressors a child might encounter. We have seen a rise in organized sport teams where everyone wins. Some schools have a rule that if you invite one child from the class to a birthday party you have to include them all. Our kids are in helmets as they bike to after school tutors while eating gluten-free organic, free-range snack food while listening to moms and dads quote safety stats so they won’t be abducted.

We are setting our children up for failure! In their teen years, if we don’t allow as pre-teens to fail, to fall down, or to experience disappointment they are going to be entirely unable to cope.

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Instead of removing stress from our kids’ lives we need to teach them that they control their reactions.

How do we do this?

Help them identify stress.Talk about how stress feels in their body. Explain that it feels different to everyone and get them recognizing if they feel it in their jaw, in their tummy or in their chest.

Remind them of times where they had success in a stressful situation.Pointing out where they successfully overcame stress in the past actually strengthens the neural pathways that will allow them to resist stress in the future.

Teach them to talk to their stress. Using simple phrases like, “I remember you but you aren’t needed here” or “I’m in control stress.” Or “You bore me, every single time I see a dog you show up- boring!” makes stress seem manageable to them

Watch your pattern of communicating about potential stressors. It is important to teach your children about safety. They need to hear “look both ways before you cross the street.” They don’t need to hear “because if you don’t you will get hit by a car and you could die and I couldn’t handle it if you died.”

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Don’t change the situation, change the way your child deals with the situation.If your child experiences stress when you drop them at daycare, you are still going to drop them off. Make sure you reinforce how they made it without you. Adopt this behavior for other situations too. If playdates are another source of separation anxiety, parents frequently just don’t do them. This isn’t helping your child. Instead, suggest options. You could stay for 15 minutes at the beginning. Or leave the child wearing your watch or necklace to remind them that you are coming back soon. My children were anxious sleeping in their own beds so we planned where we would meet in our dreams so that they wouldn’t feel alone.

Remember, worrying about your child’s tendency to be anxious is only fueling anxiety’s flame. Showing your children how you deal with anxiety models for them how to deal with theirs.

The conversation about stress and children is relatively new but clearly a hot topic. Do you think kids today have more stress than previous generations or are we just parenting in a way that highlights their stresses? I ‘d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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