Tag Archives: stress

Teaching young people how to cope with stress

teen stressToday’s guest post is from Chynna Laird, author of White Elephants, her memoir published by Eagle Wings Press. You can also find her at White Elephants: A Blog About Bipolar and Mood Disorders, Mental Illness and Survival. As part of her  virtual book tour with WOW – Women on Writing, I’ve asked her to share with you her experiences with helping kids deal with stress and anxiety

Teaching young people how to cope with stress

Stress is an ugly thing. We all know it can literally eat you alive if you let it. Adult have access to a plethora of resources to help manage stress ranging from natural to medicinal, but what about our young people? What’s available to them?

When I was younger, I not only had to deal with a parent who had tremendous mental health issues, but she wasn’t getting treatment for it. She chose more maladaptive ways of coping with her bipolar (drinking and prescription and over-the-counter drugs). Life in our house was often scary and always unpredictable. Even on “good” days I wasn’t sure if I would come home to a happy mom, an out-of-control mom, or if she’d even be there. I also had a younger brother I felt I had to protect and take care of. And on top of all of that, I had regular kid stuff to worry about at school. I was a ball of anxiety and very unhealthy.

The worst part in our situation was that we had people who had an idea what was going on but that wouldn’t take us completely out of the situation. I guess others felt that, somehow, my brother and I would give our mother the strength to ‘snap out of it’. Obviously that didn’t happen.

When a child grows up in a chaotic, unpredictable environment like that, it incredibly stressful and unhealthy. Oftentimes these kids aren’t sleeping properly, unable to concentrate, most likely have digestive and other health issues and anxious. The probably have tremendous trust issues and aren’t able to communicate effectively. The most important fact people should understand is that despite anything these kids are going through, there is an unspoken loyalty, or fear of ‘ratting someone out’ that often interferes with them talking to adults even if they have the words.

If things are bad enough, children should really be removed from such an environment into the arms of another loving family member or nurturing person(s) until things are better, if possible. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen soon enough, if at all as in my case. Regardless, we need to help these children learn effective coping mechanisms so they can be brought back to a healthy place. A child who never learns to cope with his stress properly will grow into a very anxious adult.

As someone who deals with anxiety on a daily basis, and who has two children with sensory issues that cause severe anxiety, I have learned a lot about helping kids with anxiety and stress. Here are a few things you can try:

Use your words. This is a tough one to teach but so important. Often kids act out their anxiety or stress, usually on someone closest to them. Children must learn they need to use words, not actions, to communicate their stressor (what’s causing the stress) so that they can figure out what they need to reduce or eliminate the stress.

Name that feeling. No matter how old a child is she needs to learn to attach a label to a feeling. Oftentimes, it’s how the feelings/emotions make their bodies feel that causes the stress or anxiety, not the stressor alone. So if you teach the child to name that feeling (eg: “I feel angry.” “I feel disappointed.” “I feel jealous,” etc.), it won’t get as big and neither will the reaction.

Recognize how the feeling/stressor affects the body. Once the words are there and the feeling is labeled, the child can learn to understand how those feelings affect their bodies. “When I feel mad, my stomach hurts.” What’s happening is the child is learning to become tuned into how their bodies react to stress. Once that recognition is there, they’re more receptive to what they need to do to calm down.

Match the coping strategy to the reaction. This step can take a bit of trial and error but, eventually, the child will learn to figure out what to reach for in a given situation. Bear in mind that each child is different and so the tools/strategies used will also be different. My oldest daughter, for example, needs a tremendous amount of weight to feel calm while my son needs to hide away for a bit. Whether the need to be wrapped in a big, heavy blanket or rocked and sung to or go out an punch a boxing bag, teach them to learn: “When I feel ________ and that makes me __________, I need to ____________ to feel better.” Once a child can get to that point, they’re on their way.

I’m not saying the process is going to be an easy one, especially for children who have lived in extraordinary circumstances. For children who have been abused, neglected or who have had to deal with other trauma, there will be a trust factor that will need to be established as well. But having a genuinely loving, caring adult around who keeps trying will eventually break down the tough exterior these kids build up. Trust me, I’ve been there.

The other things I can add to what I’ve suggested above are educating yourself on what the child is going through. Understand his or her situation in general as well as their specific experiences, because it will be different in each case. And remember they are a child first who just happens to be going through a rough time.

The end result will be that you’re helping these kids define their own path rather than being defined by their situation or traumatic experience. And that’s one of the best gifts you can give them.

Top picture courtesy of © Pepperbox | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos.

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Simple ways to make the morning rush less stressful

morning coffee

One of the most stressful times for me and my family is during the week day morning rush to school. Everyone wakes up grumpy and moves at the pace of a tree slug. Besides making sure everyone gets ready and out of the house on time, I also have to keep the kids on task – including reminding them to eat instead of staring at the wall!

Here are a few things I do to make the morning rush less stressful.

The weekend before

  • Groceries – go through your cupboards and refrigerator to make sure you have enough breakfast, lunch fixings, and school snacks on hand for the week. There’s nothing worse that starting off Monday morning realizing you don’t have any cold cuts to make sandwiches.
  • Hot lunch – if your kids get hot lunch at school, print out the monthly calendar and place it on the refrigerator. My kids are allowed to order hot lunch once a week, so I try to get them to pick what day they want it the weekend before. Also,  make sure you have cash on hand to pay for lunch if your school doesn’t have electronic billing.
  • Laundry – make sure everyone has enough clean school and work clothes for the week. If the seasons are changing, you may need to check the weather report to plan appropriately. Also, if you find that your child is constantly running out of pants or short sleeved shirts (probably because they’ve grown out of a few things) maybe it’s time to visit the store.
  • Backpacks – make sure that the kids empty their backpacks of any unnecessary stuff and put important papers, books, Friday folders, and homework in their backpacks Sunday night. This is a good time for mom or dad to make sure any important paperwork is reviewed or signed, too.

The night before

  • Showering – My kids like to shower in the evenings. I think most younger kids can get away with bathing the night before. However, many tweens and teens may need to shower in the morning to smell and look their best. If so, make sure everyone’s up early enough and knows to keep their shower time short.
  • Backpacks – see above.
  • Clothing – Some kids (and adults) do better if they choose an outfit and set out their clothing the night before.
  • Breakfast – Make sure you have food on hand that’s easy to make and eat in the morning. A couple of ideas are hard boiling and peeling eggs the night before, or making extra pancakes on the weekend to reheat during the week. Meal replacement shakes are a quick meal that can be consumed in the car. Cups of yogurt, minute oatmeal and cut up fruit are all healthy ways to start your day. If necessary, set the table the night before to have a jump on the morning’s rush. Set out your vitamins and don’t forget to prep the coffee pot, too!
  • Lunch – We don’t do this, but some families like to prepare lunch the night before. I find that the sandwiches get to soggy for my kids’ liking, so we make it the morning before.

That morning

  • Check the weather – Whatever way you check the day’s weather – the newspaper, TV news, your computer or smartphone – you need to know if it’s a long sleeves and jeans or short sleeves and capris day before everyone starts getting dressed.
  • Preparing breakfast – Older kids can prepare their own breakfast.Younger kids can help get the cereal or bread. Everyone should clean up their own dishes – not mom!
  • Fixing bag lunches – Older children can make their own lunches. If the kitchen is too crowded, have one child in charge of lunches one week, another child the next, and maybe mom or dad the following week.
  • Ban electronics in the morning – They’re distracting and prevent kids – and parents – from keeping on task and on time.
  • Use the kitchen timer to tell you when it’s 10 minutes before you have to leave. That should give everyone enough time to brush teeth, use the toilet, and gather up their stuff. Add another 5 minutes if mom or dad always misplace their keys!

I hope some of these tips help you make the morning rush less crazy.

How have you made your mornings less stressful?

Sprint

Sprint is the only national carrier that has truly Unlimited data for all phones while on the Sprint network with the Everything Data plan. No throttling, no metering and no overages. Plus you get Unlimited text and calling to any mobile. It’s the simple plan that allows you to use data on your phone the way it should be used. Visit http://bit.ly/xK6WDo.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Sprint via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Sprint.

© Rafalulicki | Stock Free Images

Don’t worry. All you need are two calendars, a handful of file folders, and three journals to maintain your sanity.

calendar

I’m a planner. I make hotel and airline reservations months in advance. I make sure to sign up my kids for summer camp the very first day of registration. I have a well stocked pantry, freezer, and laundry room in case we’re ever snowed in – for a month.

I keep not one but two detailed calendars in Outlook – one for personal and work appointments and another for blog related duties. I have a two filing systems – one personal and one for work. I also keep two written journals – one to track my hours for clients and another to plan out my work week and personal to do’s. I like writing lists in journals since it’s easier to jot things down then to input them into a spreadsheet. Plus, I get a lot of satisfaction crossing things off my lists than deleting them with a keystroke.

Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile

Well, I didn’t pack up my worries in a kit (duffle) bag, but I did put them into – another journal! Recently I sold my home and had to finding temporary housing for us to live in until the end of my kids’ school year.  This situation required a journal of its own. There was so much to do from getting the contractor to replace the water heater to having the post office forward the mail to my new address. It was a hectic, exhausting time and I took that notebook everywhere with me from apartment showings to our home closing.

Having a central, organized location where I could keep notes along with a couple of file folders to hold all the paperwork I needed, kept me from worrying that things were spinning out of control. Well, a little anyway. And while the notebook’s been put away for now, I’m sure it’ll come in handy when we move to Athens, Georgia in a few months when I’m sure my sanity will be tested once again!

Spend your time acting, not worrying

Can you tell I follow Winston Churchill’s advice to “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning”? Yet there were things I had no control over during this time, like waiting for a prospective landlord to call me back or that the home inspector would find major issues with our house.

I could have spent hours, even days, stuck in the analysis paralysis of dozens of “what if” scenarios. Would I find a decent place for me and the kids to live? (I did. It’s fab-u-lous.) Would I have to pay thousands of dollars for a radon elimination system? (The radon test – after getting “zapped” during the first try – was just fine.) While I did inquire about a dozen apartments and warned the kids (twice) not to go near the radon testing box in the basement, ultimately I decided to stop worrying about things I didn’t have control over. I knew that things would work out for the best or I’d get things figured out if they didn’t. And I knew worrying was just going to stress me out and make me feel mentally and physically exhausted.

Repeat after me – don’t worry, be happy

The internationally renowned self-development author and speaker Wayne Dyer said, “It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there's nothing you can do about them. And why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.”

Me immobilized? I’m too busy writing more to do lists in my journals to worry! Sprint

Join the Simplify and Be Free Glam Discussion Hour March 15th!

How do you deal with worrying?

We will be discussing the theme “Simplify and Be Free: How do you reduce stress and worry every day?” on Thursday, March 15th at 4pm PST during the Glam Discussion Hour. From a quick relaxation technique to a tasty pick-me-up, we want to know how you build a happy and worry-free lifestyle.

Not only are Glam Discussion Hours a lot of fun, but you may be one of three winners will be chosen to receive a year-long Netflix subscription! Hope you can join us here or in the chat box below:

Sprint is the only national carrier that has truly Unlimited data for all phones while on the Sprint network with the Everything Data plan. No throttling, no metering and no overages. Plus you get Unlimited text and calling to any mobile. It’s the simple plan that allows you to use data on your phone the way it should be used. Visit http://bit.ly/xK6WDo.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Sprint via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Sprint.

Keeping healthy during stressful times

Sold Home For Sale Sign and House

It’s been a stressful time for me and my family. We sold our home last week and moved into a furnished apartment so my kids could finish out the school year before we moved to where my husband is working. Even though  we had professional movers packing and moving out stuff into storage, there was plenty for me and the kids to do like gathering clothes and school supplies and dealing with all the stuff the movers wouldn’t take like motorcycle oil and cleaning supplies. To top it all off, we also had parent-teacher conferences last week and I have jury duty this week.

I’ve never been more exhausted and stressed out in my life. And I’ve never been better prepared to handle it.

I had a plan. First, I made sure that I exercised and made it to two of my three weekly Pilates classes. I tried to take my vitamins every day and drank lots of water. Since I was too busy to cook, I made sure the kids and I could grab healthy meals at our favorite on the go places like Subway and Chipotle. I stocked up on healthy foods like no-fat Greek yogurt, organic spinach and fresh fruit juices. I also made sure that the big carton of Quaker oatmeal and a bag of organic raisins made it from the old place for a healthy, quick breakfast during jury duty week.

Still, the stress and lack of sleep showed up on my skin with a nasty acne breakout and I got a few canker sores to boot. So I decided to dedicate some time to relaxing even though I was very behind on work. I took a hot bath, had a glass of wine, and signed up for Netflix to watch movies online after the kids turned in for the evening. I also did a foot and hand treatment and settled in with the newspaper, a magazine and a book while the kids watched TV in the evening.

I truly believe it’s the small things that keep you healthy, whether it’s taking time to exercise or giving yourself the OK to “goof off” and read a book or watch a movie to recharge your mental batteries. You need to have the confidence to say to yourself that it’s OK to devote some personal time to your health and well being.

What small things do you do to keep yourself healthy?

Join me to discuss how small steps can keep you healthy

At 4 pm PST on Thursday, March 8, I’ll be participating in a one hour Glam Discuss event to chat about “Healthy Rewards: What small steps in the morning do you take to keep healthy?”

You can join the discussion via the widget or by clicking here. By participating you’ll automatically be entered into the “Small Wins, Big Rewards” Sweepstakes sponsored by Glam. One of the participants will be chosen at random to receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Use it to purchase your favorite Quaker Oatmeal products, a workout video or a good book to relax with. In addition, participants will also be entered to win the Grand Prize: a $1000 Amazon Gift Card.

The benefits of a warm, filling bowl of oatmeal can keep you going all morning long.

Energy. Fiber. Heart Health.

Quaker Oatmeal. A super grain breakfast.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Quaker via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Quaker.