Great for All Ages, School Advice, Stress Management, The Happy Student Podcast

#109 Stress-Tolerance

Stress. We’ve all got it. I’ve got it. You’ve got it. Your kids have it. Some stress is good for us – it can help motivate us to do stuff and it activates our brain so that we really pay attention to what we are doing. But too much stress and those benefits go away. Too much stress and your brain starts worrying and stops working. You actually lose IQ points when you have too much stress. This is a problem. We’ve got 7 tips for building your stress-tolerance!

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Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg researches resilience, which requires a lot of stress-tolerance, and he’s got seven tips to help us manage our stress. 

1. Make problems manageable. The more you do this, the more it will become a habit every time something stressful pops up.

  • “Summit one mountain. When fully done, look up then” he says.
  • Have a plan of how you’re going to achieve your goal. It’s much scarier before you have that plan because the obstacle seems so much larger and impossible to overcome.
  • Help your child figure out what the problem is and how to overcome it, step by step, focusing just on one at a time.

2. Actively avoid stress-triggers.

  • Talk with your child about what or who triggers their stress and think about ways they might be able to avoid some of those triggers to make their school days better.

3. Exercise.

  • Anxiety is a bunch of extra energy coursing through your body, so Ginsburg says “we use up anxiety when we exercise.” And that will leave you feeling less anxious when you are done. 

4. Meditate.

  • Breathing, in particular, calms your entire system. And meditating helps to calm your mind. When you are calm, you are much more effective at overcoming obstacles.
  • When I’m stressed, I try to act quickly to relieve the stress. But I don’t always do a great job and then the stress returns. If I can calm myself down, I can go slowly and smoothly – do a good job, and be done faster. 

5. Sleep.

  • We all do better with sleep. We are happier and less stressed. 
  • We often think of sleep as nice to have, but really, it’s an absolute necessity. 

6. Take vacations.

  • Give yourself breaks and make them truly rejuvenating, like practice yoga or go for a walk. Scrolling through an app on your phone is not rejuvenating. 

7. Contribute to the world.

  • It makes you feel good to have something bigger than yourself that you’re working on. This can help protect you from stress that pops up when you are working on achieving it. Or, even when you’re not. 
  • And just because kids are young doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to the world. There are lots of things they can do, like be a bully buster or volunteer. 

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social life
Difficult Topics, Social Life

Is Your Kid a Future Olympian?

With the Olympics finally in full swing, we watch as athletes perform tasks that we could only dream of imitating. They can swim across a pool in under half a minute, jump higher than a giraffe with only the help of a pole, or run the length of a soccer field in under ten seconds. These athletes have dedicated their lives to their sports to earn the privilege of representing their country in the Olympics. It is hard to imagine now, but most of these athletes started their craft as a child. The parents of these athletes enrolled their children in their respective sports not knowing that years later they would be watching their children on the Olympic stage.

75% of families have at least one child participating in sports. Parents will enroll their children into sports with high hopes that perhaps their children can be the next Gabby Douglas or Missy Franklin. However, studies show that this is highly unlikely. Only 2% of young athletes will receive the highest ranking in their sports. In fact, parents may be harming their children when enlisting them in a sport. Research has found that although sports can have a plethora of benefits for children, there are also negative impacts that parents need to be aware of.

Organized sports provide many health benefits that are not only physically beneficial, but are also psychologically beneficial. Teenage athletes are less likely to have suicidal thoughts, smoke, and use drugs. First Lady Michelle Obama also understood the effects that physical activity can have for children, which is why she began her “Let’s Move!” campaign. She urged every child to exercise for sixty minutes a day for at least five days a week, six out of eight weeks, which is slim in comparison to the average of seven and a half hours per day children spend in front of an electronic device. However, only 42% of elementary-aged children engage in this amount of physical activity. The First Lady’s mission was to help end the childhood obesity epidemic sweeping the country. One in every three children will be affected by obesity. Obesity can cause health risks, academic difficulties, and self-image issues. The Centers for Disease Control found that physical activity can prevent many of these issues. Additionally, those who participate in sports are also more likely to eat healthier.

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Physical activity including sports tends to have an impact on athletes’ mental health. Male athletes are less likely to carry guns compared to males who were non-athletes. Girls that engage in sports are less likely to be depressed, more likely to excel academically, and exude more self-confidence. Multiple studies prove that when teenagers are engaged in sports they are happier, have higher self-esteem, and are less anxious. Physical activity including sports is highly beneficial for young children’s development.

Being on a team can affect children’s social behavior. It is a perfect opportunity for children to interact with others in their age group. A team can be a support group for those dealing with issues. Study shows that athletes on a close knit team are less likely to show symptoms of suicidal behavior. Teams can help instill life values. Children can learn how to cooperate with others because “there is no ‘I’ in team.” Losing a game or making a mistake while playing helps teach children what to do in situations when things do not go as planned. Teammates can help each other in ways that parents and teachers cannot.

Surprisingly, sports have negative effects that not many people focus on. Studies have concluded that when children overspecialize in a sport they tend to drop out of that sport  in their adolescent years. By the time a child is fifteen years old, between 70% and 80% have dropped out of sports.

Continue reading “Is Your Kid a Future Olympian?”