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Posts Tagged ‘stress awareness month’

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and that means learning more about how stress affects the whole family. Its uncomfortable to admit, but children experience stress more often than parents realize. Thankfully Lori Lite, founder of Stress Free Kids, says that reducing stress can be as easy as ABC for you and your family. This ABC list makes it fun for children to pick a letter, read, and implement a tip that will reduce stress for the day. When children step through the academic door to learning they also open Pandora’s Box of stressors. Preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, or college. It is never too early or late to fill your child’s backpack with the ABCs of decreasing stress. Parenting expert Michele Borba suggests: Print this out and place on your refrigerator. Have the kids choose a letter each day and focus on the tip!

A- Affirmations = Positive Statements= Less Stress

B- Be aware of over-scheduling

C- Counteract stress with relaxation and stress management techniques

D- Deep breathing will decrease anger and anxiety

E- Exhale and say ahhhh….

F- Focus on relaxation and sleep will follow

G- Go for a slow family walk

H- Hope will decrease anxiety and fear

I- Imagine a positive outcome

J- Juggle less

K- Keep it simple, keep it fun

L- Laughter is a stress reducer

M- Music calms, soothes, and uplifts

N- Negative thoughts can be replaced with positive

O- Organizing eliminates chaos and frustration

P- Playing is essential

Q- Quiet time is part of life

R- Relaxation can be incorporated into each day

S- Stop the chatter in your head

T- Teens or toddler. We all need downtime and coping skills

U- Understand that a stressed life means something is out of balance

V- Visualizing increases creativity

W- Waste time and be happy about it

X- XOXO kids, teens, we all relax with a hug or a kiss

Y- Young or old can learn stress management

Z- Zap stress, anxiety, fear…Live in joy, hope, balance

One sure way to decrease stress is to introduce your family to relaxation music. Homework, bedtime, carpool… anytime you want to de-stress. Try Stress Free Kids’ line of Relaxation Music CDs or their stories for children that incorporate stress management techniques and get ready to feel good!

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The tax man has cometh…praise the Lord! Did you feel the weight of the world lift from your shoulders as you put the envelope into the mailbox?  Interesting coincidence that April just happens to be Stress-Awareness Month. Studies show how stress is linked to heart disease and high blood pressure, and also contributes to the development of alcoholism, obesity, suicide, drug addiction, cigarette addiction, and other harmful behaviors. JCL doesn’t like stress–we are here to make your life easier and stress free!  It’s a good goal!

As adults we’ve all learned some coping mechanisms–hopefully some that don’t include a bottle of Merlot.  My personal favorite is a nice hot bath with some candles. It’s like my own personal Nestea plunge and I can practically see the steam rising from the water as my body slips down into the water. One of the things I try to be mindful of is that my emotions are like sneezes–they are contagious.  If I’m stressed, I’m likely passing that energy off onto other people. My co-workers certainly don’t need to feel my stress, but it happens. It’s probably worse if we try to bottle it up inside. If you are a parent, think about the effects your post-work stress might be doing to your kids. Do you come home at night and vent about the boss all through dinner or grab a glass of wine and a cigarette and go into solitary confinement? As we perused the stats of the Self Assess to Fight the Stress! blog, we came across some startling information on adolescent stress.  As adults, a majority of our stress and/or anxiety comes from unmet expectations of a spouse or boss, but children are predominantly affected by change.  Kids (like the rest of us) have to cope with major life events. These events don’t have to be negative to be stressful, but its always helpful to be mindful of these changes so we can help our children transition as smoothly as possible.  Typical sources of stress may include:

  • Parent having problems
  • Fight with a friend or a sibling
  • Taking a test
  • Wondering if someone thinks you’re attractive (teens especially)
  • Not having enough privacy
  • Birth of a brother or sister
  • Moving to a new school
  • Re/marriage of a parent
  • Not having enough money (try not to talk about your money problems in front of the kids!)
  • A teacher who doesn’t like you

According to Sabine Hack, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, the impact of a stressor depends on a child’s personality, maturity, and style of coping. It is not always obvious, however, when children are feeling overtaxed. Children often have difficulty describing exactly how they feel. Instead of saying “I feel overwhelmed” they might say “my stomach hurts.” When some children are stressed they cry, become aggressive, talk back or become irritable. Others may behave well but become nervous, fearful, or panicky.  Thankfully, parents can help their children learn to keep the harmful effects of stress to a minimum by…

  1. Parents should monitor their own stress levels.  In studies on families who have experienced traumatic circumstances such as earthquakes or war, the best predictor of children’s coping is how well their parents cope. Parents need to be particularly aware of when their own stress levels contribute to marital conflict.
  1. Keep communication lines open. Kids feel better about themselves when they have a good relationship with their parents. There’s a fine line, however, between being a parent and a friend so be careful.
  1. Encourage close friendships. Children who do not have close friendships are at risk for developing stress- related difficulties, parents should encourage friendships by      scheduling play dates, sleepovers, and other fun activities.
  1. Parents need to shape daily schedules with their child’s temperament in mind. Although children thrive in familiar, predictable environments with established routines and clear safe boundaries, their tolerance for stimulation varies.
  1. No matter how busy their schedule, children of all ages (including us grown kids) need time to play and relax. Children use play to learn about their world, explore ideas and soothe themselves.

As much as we’d love to protect all children from life’s ups and downs, its important to remember that daily challenges are important steps in their development.  As Mary Tyler Moore said, “You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.”  Help cultivate your kids to be “brave” with all that daily life has in store, and remember that your kids are watching how you deal with stress.  Deep breaths, long baths, quiet time, and an occasional glass of Merlot!  Life just got easier!

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