Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the demands placed on us from external and internal sources combined with a fear of not being able to meet those demands.
Way back in our ancestral past, stress came from simply staying alive, finding food and shelter, procreating and the occasional T-Rex encounter.
Through evolution, we developed a fight or flight response, when the sympathetic nervous system releases adrenalin. This hormone increases heart rate and blood pressure while simultaneously decreasing blood flow to internal organs and the extremities.
This results in an increase in oxygenated blood to the brain to maximize its ability to assess a dangerous situation and it also energizes the muscles in preparation for a flight or fight reaction.
Today, even though we don’t have to worry about a T-Rex encounter, our bodies still react the same way. When we are aroused above and beyond what is normal, our hearts work harder, digestion slows down and our immune system is compromised.
KIDS AND STRESS
Typical stressors for children include: separation anxiety, academic and social pressures, parental relationships, divorce, world news, death of a pet and bullying among others.
Children display stress differently from adults and they don’t always have the vocabulary to express how they are feeling. Children tend to communicate non-verbally with a change in behavior and/or by acting out.
Younger children may show stress by regressing to a younger age, bedwetting, thumb sucking and through behavior difficulties at school or when parents are not around. Older children may begin bullying others because they are afraid or anxious, lie, pick fights with parents or siblings and defy authority.
Physical effects of stress that manifest in children include: stomach and headaches that don’t have an organic reason, nightmares/night terrors, difficulty concentrating or completing schoolwork, changes in eating habits and some children may end up spending much more time alone than what is normal.
NEXT WEEK WHY YOGA COUNTERACTS STRESS