In Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski’s book, Burnout, they talk about how understanding the difference between a stressor and a stress response is crucial in helping us respond to both in healthy ways. A stressor is anything in our lives which causes strain or tension. A stress response refers to the physical changes in our bodies which occur in response to the stressor.
A deadline at work, an argument with our partner, a child who is struggling at school, or a to-do list that is longer than we have time for are all common examples of stressors. Your response and your neighbor’s response to any of these stressors may look very different. Sometimes resolving the stressor is fairly simple. We can work overtime to meet the deadline. We can resolve arguments with our partner. We can seek additional support for a child who is struggling in school. We can complete the to do list eventually. Some of these stressors will take longer than others to resolve, but whether by completion or the passage of time, the stressor will fade. What is left behind is the accumulation of the stress response.
Often we feel that the resolution of the stressor is sufficient, but Nagoski and Nagoski assert that it is not. We must also address the physical response to the stressor, and if we do not, the stress response will accumulate in our bodies to the point where it impacts our physical health. They suggest 12 methods for addressing stress response build up:
Creative self expression
Using your imagination
Superficial social connection
Intimate social connection
Connection with nature, landscape, or animals
Mindful self compassion.
The next time you feel stressed, take a minute to increase your awareness of your stress response. What changes do you notice in your body? What happens to those changes when you participate with intention, in one of the above methods?
If you find yourself overwhelmed with stress in your life and aren’t sure how to manage your stress response, give these suggestions a try, or for one-on-one support call 801-944-4555 to schedule a session with Alice today.
Life seems to be getting busier and busier from soccer practice to choir rehearsals, school projects, and bedtime stories. I think we sometimes forget how intense life can be for a teenager or even for your three-year old learner. As an adult, we often get stuck in a mindset where we believe our adult problems are real and our teens problems are miniscule in comparison. Sometimes we forget how difficult life can be in high school. Maintaining friendships seem more difficult these days, with all the technology and social media barriers. Your little ones experience these difficulties as well. This could be with making friends at daycare and when family members are too busy to play or acknowledge their presence. When your child is experiencing all these stressors, they may come across as having a bad attitude, disrespectful, over-sensitive, or selfish. In reality, our kids are really just trying to figure out how to navigate life and may lack skills or verbiage to describe their stress and pain.
At the same time my daughter was experiencing her newfound emotions as a teen, I had the joy of also raising a three-year old who I deemed was like a threenager.
Threenager:A three-year-old child who has just as big of an attitude and overwhelming emotions as a teenager but with even less words or skills to regulate themselves.
I felt a little overwhelmed at times with all of their emotions as well as my own. Here are some tips and tricks I used to not only survive this time but also help my children thrive during these hard times.
Do not minimize your children’s emotional experience. Even if their problem seems small or easily solvable to you. They are having a hard time.
Instead, listen to their story, validate their feelings and offer your unconditional love and support.
Avoid Blame. There are times when your child is experiencing a natural consequence such as losing a friend because they wouldn’t share or added to a rumor about them.
What they really need is empathy and support. “It’s hard when you lose a friend.” Or “you seem to have had a bad day.”
They don’t need you to fix it. It may seem easier as a parent with life skills to solve problems for our kids but there is a bigger reward when they learn to solve the problem on their own.
You can sit with them and help them come up with their own solutions, “how do you think you can fix this?” or “what would you like to be different?” Also never underestimate the power of sitting and problem solving with your child over a glass of chocolate milk. It does wonders in my home.
Respect their boundaries. If your child is having a hard day and they do not want to talk about it or refuse a hug, do not personalize it, allow them time to work on the problem on their own.
Be there for them when they are ready for a hug or to talk. You can offer reassurance by telling them “I can see you want some space right now, I am here if you need me.”
These simple reframes as a parent have gone a long way to create a safe and equal relationship with my kids. It has eased some stress on my end and helped my children to gain emotional intelligence and gain life skills that are invaluable into adulthood.
If you would like to schedule a family session or session for your child, please call us at Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555