Stress: From Infants to teenagers and adults. No one is exempt.

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Lori Hudson Bertrand DC, RN

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Luke 12:25

Over the last several weeks I have been having a hard time finding a true balance between work and family.  Some days this leaves me feeling physically and emotionally worn down.  I get so much such joy out of being with my kids.  Surely many of you can relate.  I want to enjoy every moment of my children’s lives, but always seem to have other responsibilities and distractions that pull me away from them.  So many times, I am left with feelings of guilt, selfishness, and stress because of the uncertainty of finding the best balance for myself and for those around me.  Nearly half of the children today are growing up in a household where both parents are working full time. As adults balancing work, family, bills, and other responsibilities can overwhelm us.  But, what stresses are our children experiencing?  How does it affect their bodies mentally and physically? Over the next few weeks I will be taking a closer look at how children of all ages are affected by stress.

Before we go further, lets define what stress really is.  Stress is anything that upsets homeostasis (the body’s balance) and threatens our physical and emotional wellness. This can be psychological or physiochemical. Attitude has a lot to do with how we process, perceive, and deal with stress.

 

Three types of stress:

1. Eustress– Often seen as the “good” stress. It can promote health and motivation, allowing the body to release endorphins and place it in a euphoric state.  Eustress can keep the body vital.

2. Distress–This has the potential to diminish immunity and decrease the body’s capacity to function in a healthy way.  Distress can be healthy or harmful.  The body releases hormones such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol when anxiety and stress are perceived.  These are considered your “fight or flight” hormones and when released in excess, can become harmful.

3. Chronic stress– This type of stress takes place when the body is in a constant state of emotional and physical disruption. Continuous stimulation and bombardment to the nervous system can weaken the immune system and put the body at risk for illness.

 

Some stress is good, however constant stress can take a toll on our health.

The following conditions have been linked to chronic stress:

Fatigue, pain, insomnia, impaired mental function, memory loss, heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive problems, obesity, hair loss, depression, headaches, and a weakened immune system.

New studies have shown that stress is a major contributing factor in diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.1  But, stress doesn’t play favorites; even children are vulnerable to many of these conditions when the body is in a chronic state of stress. Infections, allergies, asthma, sleep disturbances, and even bed-wetting can be exacerbated with stress. The patterns we establish as children tend to be carried out into adulthood.   So, begin to implement healthy and effective ways to deal with stress now.

How do you deal with stress? Calming the heart and mind can promote tranquility within the body; it’s a great for balancing the nervous system.  When the body is free from tension and stress, the mind is able to think clearly, memory improves and higher learning capabilities take place.  Managing your stress in healthy ways helps reduce stress in your children; it’s great model for them as they live out their lives.  A positive environment allows children and adults to pay attention and stay motivated.  How do you perceive your surroundings?  Are you creating patterns at work, school, and home that support and nurture you and those around you?

Everyone’s balance is different and finding what works for you and your family is a journey.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that you are the only affected by stress; children build up anxiety and tension just like adults do.  Part 2 of this series will cover what stresses children (babies to teenagers) and how it affects behavior, development, and overall function of their precious bodies and minds.

 

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DEFINE’s senior instructor and anatomy specialist, Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N. is a doctor in chiropractic and registered nurse. Her love for helping people through education about anatomy and physiology drives her to continue to share her experiences and knowledge with others as they pursue their journey towards health and restoration!

 

 

Sources:

1 V. Tennant. (2005 September) The Powerful Impact of Stress.  John Hopkins School of Education. Retrieved from

http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/Keeping%20Fit%20for%20Learning/stress.html

 

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