I am not a psychologist, or trained in the ways of the Jedi, but I am a Mom, so I think that qualifies me to speak a little about kids and stress. My kiddo is an adult now, but I remember the days of tantrums, stubbornness, and his inability to communicate fully how he was feeling. Heck, even now, as adults, we sometimes don’t know how to verbalize what’s going on in our heads and hearts. Being human can be complicated and messy.
But fear not. There are actually some things we can do to help our children deal with stressful times. And maybe we can help ourselves along the way.
Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels
1. We All Go Through It
Let your children know that you understand they are dealing with a stressful situation that could cause some anxiety. Better yet, share some of the things you may be going through, or have gone through. Obviously you don’t have to go into great detail, but letting your kids know that they aren’t alone makes them feel a little better. Then talk through the situation and see if you can come up with a solution together. It is very easy for us to tell our children what do to, but I’ve found it is more helpful to let them feel like they have a little control of their lives by coming up with their own solutions. This also helps them learn how to deal with their emotions in a positive manner.
2. Your Emotions Are Valid
Sometimes we forget our kiddos are just that, kids. We expect them to deal with situations as adults, and that’s not fair. I know, life isn’t fair, but we can at least level the playing field a little. We all want to feel like we are being heard and understood. And that means letting your children know that their feelings are valid. We may not understand fully where they are coming from, but we need to be supportive and show them the correct way to express those feelings.
My son once told me that he hated me. I knew he didn’t and told him as much. I said, “I know you are mad at me but I also know that you still love me.” After we talked about why he was angry, I told him that from now on he was allowed to tell me that he loves me but right now he’s mad at me. And I did the same to him. This gave him the ability to validate his feelings but to also deal with them in a way that wasn’t hurtful to anyone, himself included.
3. Stay Focused On The Positives
With all the negativity floating around, it may feel hard to focus on the good stuff. Heck, even as adults we fall into that trap. But if everyone works together, the whole family can focus on the positives. My Mom was great at that! No matter how bad something was, she would always ask us to find something good. Sometimes it was a struggle, but she was always there to keep us on track.
As parents we need to recognize that anxious and stressed children can get lost in negative thoughts and self-criticism. (1) One of the things we can do is point out all of the amazing qualities in our kids. You don’t have to go overboard, but letting them know that you recognize how amazing they are goes such a long way in helping eliminate that self doubt they may be carrying around.
Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels
4. Lets Relax
As adults, we completely understand the value of having some down time. We may not be the greatest at scheduling it, but we value it when it comes along. Maybe it’s an adult beverage, a bubble bath, or even playing some video games. Our children need that also. So help them build that into their schedule. Doing something that we enjoy, just for ourselves, is a great way to reduce stress.
Scheduling some family time is also a great way to relax. Do something old school like playing a board game, going for a walk, taking a drive on a country road you haven’t been on can be relaxing, and may offer the opportunity for you kids to open up. While we’re talking about kids opening up. Why not ask if you can play a video game with them? Hop into their world for a little bit. You know you’re going to laugh a lot because face it, you probably suck!
5. Do As I Do
We’ve all heard the saying “Do as I say, not as I do.” Quite frankly, I find that preposterous. Whether they realize it or not, our children model their behavior after the adults in their lives. So if we are negative, talking down about other people, not taking care of ourselves, etc., guess what? So will they. Set a good example for them by scheduling some self care time, finding the positives in situations, and generally being a happy person. This doesn’t mean we won’t have bad days. But the best way to help our kids deal with stress or anxiety, is to show them how to do it in a positive and productive manner.
Stay healthy my friends!
You always hear more about boosting your immune system when the weather starts to turn and flu season is about to explode. So, with the current situation we are living in, why aren't we talking about this?
Yes, we need to wash our hands...which I'm pretty sure we all learned about in kindergarten.
Yes, masks are helpful...period.
But what I'm not hearing about are all of the other things you can do to help yourself and your family stay on track to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Ever heard the saying "it's the little things"? You don't have to make a drastic change to improve your immune system. Just a few little tweaks and you could be on the road to a healthier you!
1. Eat The Good For You Stuff
We all joke about the COVID-19 pounds that we've put on, but inside we're cringing at how real it truly is. Whether it's from boredom, anxiety, or the excuses we tell ourselves, we justify why we grab that bag of chips instead of opting for a healthier snack. I am totally guilty of this! But realizing that the choices we make of what we put in our mouths affects how we feel in the long run has to be a conscious and intentional decision.
There are so many studies out there that have proven that the food we ingest has a direct link to our gut microbiome, which can improve or harm your immunity. Eating foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, which are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, may give you an upper hand against harmful pathogens. Healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and salmon have been shown to reduce inflammation which may help your body fight off harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
No...I did not just say a bad word. We all know the benefits of incorporating moderate exercise into our schedules. And we all have some really great reasons why we don't. Me included. I know the benefits of exercising. I tell my clients all of the amazing reasons they should exercise regularly. Did you know moderate exercising, like taking a brisk walk, swimming, jogging, or light hiking, can help your immune cells regenerate?
3. Get Some Rest
Speaking of exercise, did you know that regular exercise, particularly in the morning or afternoon, can impact your sleep quality by raising your body temperature a few degrees. Later in the day, when your internal thermostat drops back to its normal range, this can trigger feelings of drowsiness and help you drop off to sleep. Also, if you exercise outdoors, you’ll be exposed to natural light, an important element in helping your body establish a good sleep-wake cycle. (1)
Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep, or enough sleep, are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. (2) It has been said that adults should get around 7 hours, while teenagers may only need 8-10 hours, and younger children need up to 14 hours of sleep.
4. Stress Relievers
Oh boy, now we're talking about something that a lot of us are dealing with. Stress and anxiety seem to be a daily part of our lives these days. I'm not going to get into all of the icky details, but we all know what is going on in society, and how it is affecting our home life. But what most of us don't realize is that this directly affects our immune system. The negative thoughts we carry around have a direct impact on our health.
I get it. Bad shit happens. But if we let that eat away at us, our chances of getting sick increase. When we're stressed, the immune system's ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (e.g. lowers the number of lymphocytes) (3)
There are many ways to help relieve stress and anxiety in your life. Take a walk in nature, practice meditation, talk to someone, receive regular massages, utilize natural remedies such as essential oils, tinctures, or CBD, journal, practice specific breathing methods, or simply learn to accept that some things are just beyond your control. I'm not saying that this is going to be easy, but it will be worth your time to put the effort in. Your physical and mental health depends on it.
5. Look For Natural Solutions
Mother Nature has been helping us strengthen our immune system since the dawn of time. Look back, before big pharma, and what will you find? Nature! Herbs, flowers, essential oils, and foods we could gather were the things used to maintain health and wellness.
Did you know that some essential oils have been shown to break down the cell wall of bacteria, viruses, and fungi essentially killing it? (4) My particular favorite is a blend most people refer to as Thieves Oil. I've been making my own for a few years, and knock on wood, haven't even had a head cold. Recently I learned of the immune boosting benefits of Elberberries. I purchase mine from That Elderberry Lady.
Some of you may be mumbling to yourself that you're not into the hoo-doo voo-doo, and that's fine. The way I look at is that I would rather use something from nature than deal with the side effects of a man made "drug". So I will continue to use my Thieves Oil Blend, make healthier food choices, and consume my Elderberry products. And yes, I will be making the time to exercise regularly.
Stay healthy my friends!
P.S. I don't get paid or get free stuff to recommend products I use. I trust the products, and love to support small businesses like mine :)