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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 November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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