February 13, 2011

Do You Model Good Stress Managment for Your Children?

The word stress brings to mind negative feelings of being overwhelmed and overloaded.

Too much stress can cause exhaustion and impede our judgment. However, it’s important to recognize that stress can be good. Stress provides a rush of adrenalin that gets us through life’s challenges. Stress itself is not the problem. The way the body responds to stress is the problem.

No two people respond to stress in the same way and there is no single right way to cope with stress. Each of us needs to experiment with different ways of managing stress until we find one that works best.

One of my own ways of responding to stress is through deep breathing. It’s recommend by author and physician, Dr. Andrew Weil who calls it The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise.

1. Slowly breathe in through your nose to the count of 4.

2. Hold the breath for a count of 7.

3. Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. When you exhale make a soft “whoosh” sound by holding the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth.

4. Repeat three more times.

I have found this breathing exercise to be very useful and it’s something I always have with me. I use it whenever something upsetting happens – before I react. I also find it useful to help me fall asleep.

One mother I worked with practiced this deep breathing exercise and whenever she started to snap at her children her young daughter would say, “Mom, remember to breath!”

Children learn how to cope with stress from watching adults handle their problems. Are you satisfied with the way you respond to stress? What stress management skills would you like your child to learn from you?

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