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De-stressing Tips for Families

Stress has reached epidemic proportions in the United States with as many as 75 percent of adults reporting moderate to high levels of stress in the month prior to being questioned. Even children and animals are experiencing greater stress levels than ever before. It is important to take the time each day to engage in those activities that help children, adults, and even the family pet de-stress.

Helping Children Relax

Most people don’t think about the possibility that their child could be experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety. However, children today are far more exposed to media channels than ever before. This includes access to a 24-hour news cycle that is frequently filled with scary stories. Virtually unlimited internet access has also created an environment that is filled with opportunities for online bullying.

Some of the signs children are becoming overly stressed include radical changes in behavior, unexplained sickness, changes in sleeping patterns, bedwetting, nightmares, or changes in academic performance.

In order to help children make space for relaxation, many pediatric specialists recommend limiting the amount of screen time children are given. It is also important to create a routine of questioning children about their day and actively listening to their descriptions. Children feel less stressed when they are able to share their concerns with someone.

Reduce Pet Anxiety

All animals appear to have a stress response, however, the ways in which they deal with stress are often quite different. When a fish is stressed they will stay near the surface of the water, may stop eating, or begin hiding within aquarium decorations. Typically, if a fish is showing symptoms of increased anxiety, it is related to something in their environment. Checking the oxygen and chemical levels can quickly reveal the source of the anxiety so that it can be resolved.

Interestingly, dog anxiety is something many owners have become much more aware of in the last several years. There are many possible underlying causes that can contribute to higher levels of stress in dogs, including a new family member, too much time alone, or individual phobias. Taking extra time with your dog and pinpointing exactly what is triggering their anxiety makes it much easier to address the situation. When that isn’t possible, there are medications and natural remedies that may help alleviate their anxiety.

Decompressing for Adults

Parents typically put themselves last when it comes to self-care. This is especially true for women who find it very difficult to schedule in time for themselves. Even though men appear to be better at taking time for themselves, their self-reported stress levels are often the highest. So how can adults ensure they are taking the time they need to center themselves and lower their stress levels?

For both men and women, physical exercise is a great way to naturally de-stress. This could include yoga, a round of golf, a hike through a local park, or dance class once a week. Whatever encourages you to be physically active in a fun and playful way on a regular basis will greatly reduce overall stress levels.

A well-balanced life should also include time with friends outside of the family. This can be difficult to schedule due to conflicting obligations, but setting aside time for a weekly book club, monthly poker game, spa day, or fishing trip can make it easier for adults to maintain their own identity, hobbies, and personal relationships which have all been shown to help people cope with stress better.

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