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What are the main types of daily stress for kids and adults

It can be easy to trip over daily stresses in the world we live in. Some might be smaller situations, others larger and more life changing. But whether you’re an adult or a child, they can pile up and weigh heavy on your shoulders. Below is a guide to help you to identify those stresses alongside a few simple stress-relievers that you can add to your calming toolkit for when you need it.

Causes of stress 

Moving house soon? Have the pile of washing been cursing loudly at you for days? Do you have a big work deadline looming? Or have you got a family wedding coming up that is turning your hair grey? 

Or is your little one under pressure to finish their growing mountain of homework? Have they got a big sports game coming up? Are they having troubles in their friendship group? Or are they adjusting to a new situation at home?

The causes of stress are all around us in our daily lives and, while one person’s mountain is someone else’s molehill and vice versa, the small stresses can all mount up and effect our quality of life. Sound familiar? Read on…

As adults, it’s easy to find ourselves faced with hurdles that we jump over time and time again. And it’s exhausting. We do so much, we burn ourselves out and neglect any self-care while trying to battle through the challenges. But it’s time to stop that vicious circle; by identifying and prioritising, culling and delegating.

For children, the challenge can lie in the difficulty of realising what’s causing stress and to express it to get the help they need. With stresses coming from the modern world we live in, social media has created a toxic environment to look and act a certain way, extra-curricular activities can be overwhelming to juggle alongside school life, and home life can, for many, raise its own challenges. Arming our kids with the tools to be able to see these pressures and to get help with dealing with them can turn a stress into a small hurdle that can be easily jumped over.

Work and school stress

With the majority of our weeks spent either at school or at work, adults and kids alike face daily stress and pressures. 

Whether you’re starting a new job or a new class at school, feeling nervous ahead of a public speaking opportunity or facing a mind-boggling class or difficult exam, we can face similar challenges whether we’re young or older. It can be easy for be overwhelmed by low self-esteem or feeling insecure during these moments, so it’s important for adults and kids to remember a few steps before facing the situation:

  • Deep breathing: breathing slowly and fully can help calm the body and mind ahead of a stressful situation. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and breathe out slowly for 5 seconds. While you breathe out, let your shoulders, jaw and forehead relax.
  • Mindfulness exercises: Mindfulness is a wonderful practice for kids and adults to practice together or on their own. It offers a moment of peace and allows us to clear the mind of racing thoughts and concerns and focus on what’s here and now. There are some great apps and YouTube accounts that cater to all the family. 
  • Good sleep: A good night’s sleep is important to be able to face daily stresses with calmness and focus. A bad night’s sleep, on the other hand, can lead to being distracted throughout the day and more stressed. Especially for children, it’s important to have between 10-12 hours, age dependent. Read on below for a few tips.
  • Adapting to change: Change can often make us feel stressed, which is often linked to us overthinking our future. So, it’s important to take a moment, during these moments, to reground yourself in the present or teaching your child how to too. A quick moment of meditation can help; scan your body from top to toe, feeling each body part. Or look around you and identify 5 things you can feel, smell, hear and see. 

Extracurricular activities

Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done? You’re not alone. The majority of adults struggle to fit everything in that they need to do for themselves, let alone any extra activities or – lest we say it – self-care. It can be overwhelming and incredibly stressful. 

Kids also suffer at the hands of having too much to do. Besides the huge influx of information that they’re processing every day in and out of school, often they have a plethora of extracurricular activities that are forced on them: after school swimming, weekend birthday parties, karate classes, piano lessons, park time, family reunions… 

It’s therefore important to think ahead to manage our time and carve out down-time for adults and kids alike. Try the following steps:

  • Time management: get a family calendar and divide into everyone’s schedule by day and time. In each week, define a morning or afternoon where each person gets their own down time and mark it in coloured pen or highlight to as not to forget or cancel.
  • Self-care: kids and adults need to practice self-care. In the family calendar, define a few hours per week where each person can either explore different activities in a bid to find what they find most relaxing (think reading, art, walks, yoga for all ages) or to practice the activity of their choice. What’s important here is that there is at least 1-2 hours of quiet time where each adult or child will be undisturbed.
  • Stress relief activities: does exercise or dancing relieve your pent-up stress? Or maybe painting? Well, it won’t be different for your kids. Explore different activities with them that will allow you both to express your stress and get it out of your system. A weekend can be a nice time to explore these together.

Making new friends

Making new friends can be stressful for adults and kids. Have you just started a new job? Moved to a new area? Has your child just started a new school or class? Well, the impending dread that we might feel when faced with a crowd of unfamiliar faces can send our stress levels soaring.

The first thing to do when you or your little one is trying to make a new circle of friends is to start small; approach one person and ask them questions to find common ground. Once you have found common ground, try to share an activity together, to swap numbers or arrange a playdate to spend some time together exploring more common ground. This, in time, will help you get to know their friendship circle too. 

Secondly, relax. There’s nothing like meeting someone who fills you with a sense of calm and assurance. Try not to get flustered when you are talking and, if you do, take a moment to yourself to take some big breaths, and start again.

Thirdly, remember that you’re only human! Everyone needs to make friends and finds it quite scary, so don’t worry about showing your weaknesses. There is a real sense of endearment when someone can open up and show their vulnerable side.

Sleep problems

When you or your child have trouble sleeping, you can easily get trapped in a cycle of stressful days and bad nights. Breaking the cycle is therefore the key to unlocking a good night’s sleep and a stress-free day. Here are a few tips:

  • Regular exercise: by expending your energy during the day, your body and mind can fall to sleep more quickly.
  • Bedtime routine: try spending the hour before bed without any bright lights or technology, by taking a warm bubble bath, or reading your favourite book tucked up in bed.
  • Sleep techniques: some light meditation can bring your mind into a more reposed state, allowing you to feel calm and relax your body. Alternatively, there are some wonderful adult and kids’ apps that offer stories or sounds to help you drift off.