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Stress

How It Affects You and Your Child

Being a parent or caregiver can sometimes seem like an overwhelming responsibility. While caring for your child, you are also fulfilling many other roles that can create stress at home, at work, and in other settings. If stress is not recognized and dealt with quickly, it can affect your physical, emotional, and mental health. And, as a result, your family will be affected, especially your children.

This podcast will help you learn to identify stressors, recognize the signs of stress, and give you tips on how to manage your stress and help your children deal with stress.

Stress can be caused by a variety of both positive and negative factors, including: the sickness or death of a loved one, hardships affecting family and friends, relationship troubles, loss of work, a new job, balancing work and family, a new baby, disciplining children, financial troubles, or moving to a new home.

These stressors may cause you to react to others and situations with less control than you normally would. This could look like lashing out at children, neglecting children, problems with relationships, difficulties at work, health problems, a disorderly home environment, irritability, forgetfulness, and inability to concentrate.

It’s important to pay attention to your body so you can recognize signs of stress and take steps to respond in a healthy manner.

If you pay attention, your body will often tell you when you are under stress, even if you don’t realize you are. These signs include headaches, back pain, high blood pressure, frequent sickness, unusual weight loss or gain, frequent indigestion, moodiness, feelings of depression, stomach aches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, feelings of anxiety, cold sores, and over or undereating. Too much stress can also cause anxiety, ulcers, heart disease, or aggravate diabetes. It is important to take notice of these signs, especially a combination of them showing up at once.

Sometimes even though you may not feel stressed, your body shows signs that you need to relax. Slow down, get some rest, and take care of yourself.

Once you become aware, you can work toward reducing stressors and their effects. Try some of the following options to help reduce the stress level in your life:

  • Exercise. This can help burn off chemicals that build up in your body during stress.
  • Eat healthy foods, avoiding processed foods, sugar, and fatty foods. Choose more vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and nicotine
  • Make time to get adequate sleep and rest. Most adults need an average of eight hours of sleep per day. Children need an average of 10-12 hours, depending on their age.
  • Find hobbies you enjoy
  • Get family members involved to help with responsibilities at home
  • Learn to say “no” when you have the option
  • Make a list of things to do to eliminate the clutter in your mind
  • Seek support from family and friends
  • Take time to take care of yourself.
  • Find stress management classes and counseling through your local social service agency, hospital, or community center.

You can help your child deal with stressful times by establishing predictable routines to follow. Observe regular times for homework, meals, play, quiet time, and sleep. Pay attention to how they react during stressful times by listening to them and observing their body language and behavior. You can also talk to them about their possible pressures and anxieties. They may take a while to express their feelings in words, so try discussing solutions together. By showing care and concern through difficult situations, you can help strengthen your relationship with your children. Also, be aware that the manner in which you manage your own stress greatly influences your children’s levels of stress and how they respond to it.

Stress is simply a part of normal living. While you may not be able to eliminate all causes of stress, you can learn to manage and reduce it so that you can function at your best for you and your child.

To find more helpful parenting resources like this and to print a copy of our “Stress” brochure, visit Children’s Home Society of California’s website at www.chs-ca.org .

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