As a child, I can remember hearing my mom say, “Stress is no joke,” I don’t know how many times. When I think about life and all the stress that my family and I have endured, I understand her statement much better. Many people don’t understand how stress can really cause many serious issues not only for you, but those who surround by you, such as your spouse, kids, friends and extended family.
No matter how hard you try to deal with your problems, sometimes a stressful situation is unavoidable. I can admit some of my experiences with stress have made me stronger and much wiser in the way I handle it!
Now that I have a family of my own, I try my best to keep toxic stress away from my children. You may be asking, Lisa, what is “toxic stress”? Well, toxic stress is stress that trauma that repeatedly activates the body’s stress response, putting it in overdrive without the buffering of a protective relationship. Toxic stress can harm a child’s body and brain and cause developmental issues for that child.
If ignored, toxic stress can affect your children’s growth, behavior, genes, immunity, and much more. Any child exposed to adversity without the loving support of parents or caring adults can have double the risk of lifetime medical issues such as cancer and heart disease, and a higher than normal risk of obesity, smoking, substance abuse and more, according to Stress Health.org.
While taking a moment to visit the Stress Health.org site, I learned about ways I could help and protect my children and loved ones from toxic stress:
- Supportive relationships. Providing your children with safe and nurturing relationships can help protect children’s brains and body from harmful effects of stress and trauma and might even reverse any damage.
- Sleep. Getting enough sleep is vital to your child’s health. Good sleep is an important step towards helping your child or children cope with hardship from their past.
- Exercise is another key to good health. It wards off obesity, helps fight depression and mood disorders from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
- Good nutrition is a must when dealing with ACEs as kids may become overeaters or compulsive eaters when stressed.
- Mental health. There is a strong link between mental health and ACEs. Young children who have dealt with a serious trauma may have a very hard time calming themselves down or making friends
- Being Mindful. Children and adults exposed to ACEs may have a difficult time controlling impulses when dealing with stressful situations.
All these helpful signs of toxic stress can be found on the StressHealth.org website, along with tips on how to protect kids against it through good sleep, nutrition, exercise, and more.
I like to think I have stress under control for myself and the kids, but I found these tips to be helpful.
One thing you can do today is visit the Stress Health website and take the easy ACE quiz to find out your ACEs score. This way you will be informed and will learn more about how to deal with toxic stress for yourself and your children.
Please don’t feel you are alone. This site has so much information to help you and your children break free from toxic stress.
Disclosure: This post is in partnership with StressHealth.org and all opinions expressed are my own. Information shared for this editorial was provided the Center for Youth Wellness.