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Are Your Kids Stressed?

Are Your Kids Stressed?

    It’s common to hear adults talking about how stressed or overwhelmed they are, but do we hear from our children how they feel? Research finds that between 8 and 10% of North American children are seriously troubled by stress.

    I’ll never forget a class meeting I shared with my students some 6 years ago. The students were discussing their feelings and all but 1 boy said, “I’m so stressed!” They were 8 and 9 years old. Probing them further, I asked, “Why?” Here is the short list of reasons they mentioned:

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    1. Too much homework (I must note that they mentioned subjects areas
    outside of what I taught since I was always conscious about how much I
    have and NEVER gave any over the weekends.)

    2. Sibling Arguments

    3. Too many extra-curricular activities ie. feeling overscheduled

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    4. Parent expectations

    5. Home problems

    6. Stressed out parents always yelling

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    It broke my heart to see these young souls sharing their stories of stress.

    The only boy that day who wasn’t stressed called out emotionally, “I’m allowed to be a kid!” The room went silent. I asked him what he meant. He replied, still very emotional, “I get home from school, take a shower, put on my pajamas, do my homework, eat dinner, play or read then go to bed. I’m allowed to be a kid, Mrs. Kurt.” He was so right.

    Today, our children sleep fewer hours, play fewer hours and spend time by themselves fewer hours than ever before. The result is that they are stressed, even children as young as 3 research shows! One researcher, Dr. Kim Payne, was shocked to return to the United States after having lived and worked in war torn countries helping children cope with post-traumatic stress. What he found was that North American children were exhibiting the same physical and emotional signs of stress as the children in the war torn countries.

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    How can you tell if your child is stressed? Here are some signs to look for:

    Physical:

    * reoccurring headaches, neckaches or backaches
    * nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomachache
    * shaky hands, sweaty palms
    * bed wetting
    * trouble sleeping/nightmares
    * change in appetite
    * frequent colds, fatigue

    Emotional or Behavioural:

    * new or reoccurring fears; anxiety and worries
    * trouble concentrating; frequent daydreaming
    * restlessness, irritability
    * social withdrawal, unwillingness to participate in school or

    Family Activities:
    * moodiness
    * nail biting, thumb sucking, hair twirling, foot tapping
    * acting out, anger, tantrums
    * regression to baby-like behaviours
    * excessive whining or crying
    * clinginess, won’t let you out of site

    The best thing you can do is to discover the reason behind your child’s stress and then put a few things in place to improve the current dynamics. The step-by-step solutions will be discussed fully in my next article, going up tomorrow morning!

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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    Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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