Stress enters our lives in many shapes and forms. Appropriate stress is healthy and useful – and can even help one rise to the challenge and face tough situations with strength and stamina. Stress can also be overwhelming and cause distress – such as anxiety, tension or irritability.
We’ve been talking a lot about dealing with stress throughout the holiday season on Post Rock Extension’s Facebook, Twitter, and Blog. Nora Rhoades, District Family and Youth Development Agent, provides a wealth of information to better understand how stressors impact individuals, and teaches practical strategies that can be helpful with managing stress. Here’s some tips:
Set expectations – Talk to your family, children, friends, and co-workers about expectations during the holidays. Be open with them if money is an issue. Use this as an opportunity to teach youth about the value of money and responsible spending. Be realistic. Take small steps to deal with holiday tasks instead of overwhelming yourself with goals that are too far reaching.
Keep things in perspective – Try to consider stressful situations in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing events out of proportion. Model how to keep things in perspective, including what type and the number of gifts to give and receive.
Make connections – Good relationships with family and friends are important. View the holidays as a time to reconnect with people. Volunteering is a good way to connect with others. Remember that accepting help and support from those who care about you can help decrease the impact of stressors.
Take care of yourself – Pay attention to your own needs and feelings during the holiday season. Engage in activities you enjoy and find relaxing. Evaluate your calendar and commitments to ensure you do something you enjoy each day. Taking care of yourself helps keep your mind and body healthy and primed to deal with stressful situations.
Cut back on device use – Instead of dialing into a gadget, go for a walk or play a board game with a friend. This promotes activity and distances you from sluggish time and possible influence from media which may not align with your expectations and values.
Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness helps calm the body and quiet the mind. Especially during busy seasons like the holidays, it is important to practice focused breathing and other self-soothing activities. Experiencing the joy of the season will be much easier when you slow down, stop, and pay attention to the wonder of the moment around you.
Life is full of rituals. A ritual is ceremony or action performed regularly when triggered by an event, tradition, or specific family interaction. Healthy rituals create environments that promote belongingness and security.
Life is also full of routines. Adults and children rely on routines to learn and progress. The human brain desires patterns and predictability; a clear pattern supports continuity.
It is important to acknowledge that both routines and rituals are essential components of a satisfying lifestyle. To avoid assuming they are the same visualize the distinction: A ritual is round and full of meaning while a routine is flat, functions like a machine, and is without meaning. In the chaos of life, we may allow valuable rituals to digress into a routine, becoming stripped of the positive connection it contributes toward the sustainability of strong relationships.
Healthy rituals are enjoyable, explore the meaning of life, and provide opportunities to empower and encourage relationships. While rituals are unique for each individual, relationship, and family, they generally fulfill the purposes of:
Relating: communicating, concern for others, problem-solving, balance of individual and together time, joint decision-making
Changing: adapting to a new developmental stage of life, adjusting to a new environment or set of expectations, responding to crisis
Healing: forgiveness, coping with loss, resilience
Believing: sense of identity, values affirmation, acknowledgement of an experience
Celebrating: recognizing special events, holidays, and accomplishments
Examine your rituals as we dive into the holiday season. Ask yourself: Is the ritual meaningful to all individuals involved? Does it create stress for anyone? Is the ritual safe, healthy, and an advocate for overall wellness? Is it enjoyable?
Reflect on high stress and unfocused times during your day. The times when your heart and mind seek to feel united with others is a signal that you need a ritual to regain positive energy. A challenging transition can be overcome by incorporating a new ritual or by making changes to one that has lost its value.
4-H is a community of young people across Kansas engaged in learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. Caring adults who support our programs are essential for youth to achieve their potential. Adults can share guidance, knowledge and wisdom, as well as model respect and provide skills training. Contact your local extension office to learn about how youth can join 4-H and how you can get involved making a difference as an adult volunteer!
4-H is a nationwide program. Each of the four H’s of the clover represent ways youth can grow and develop.
While cigarette smoking among youth has declined, the use of other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes has increased. In their efforts to eventually hook kids on tobacco, the tobacco and vaping industries target young people by using three primary tactics – making products sweet, cheap, and easy to get.
Talk with Your Kids. Talking with your kids about vaping is one of the most important things you can do. Below are tips to help you prepare for and start the conversation.
Be patient and ready to listen. Your goal is to have a conversation, not to deliver a lecture. So avoid criticism and encourage an open dialogue.
There is no “perfect time” to talk. Driving in the car together or waiting at an appointment is often the best time. You can start by mentioning a news story, a TV show, or something that you heard about vaping. Or ask your child what he or she thinks about a situation you witness together such as seeing someone use an e-cigarette, passing a vape shop when you are out, or seeing an e-cigarette advertisement.
There is no “perfect talk.” Consider your talks with your child about vaping as a learning opportunity for both of you, and perhaps just the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. You may have some facts about vaping at hand, but concede that you don’t know all the answers. It will go a long way to keep your kids from going on the defensive.
Ask what your child thinks. Show some genuine curiosity. Ask your child, “What’s your take on vaping?” or “Do you know kids who use e-cigarettes?”
Be open and honest. Be truthful about what you know about the dangers of vaping, and what you don’t. You can honestly say, though, “Vaping isn’t harmless. I hope you can steer clear of it.”
You can’t always control everything your children do when they’re not with you. Talking with your kids about vaping will let them know that you’re concerned about their health.
Bouncing from one activity to the next finds families traveling to ball games, lessons, appointments, and more. Once you reach your destination you may find yourself playing the waiting game. “In between time” can be a great opportunity to get back to the basics of learning with your loved ones. Here’s some gadget-free ideas that will help keep minds learning, loved ones communicating, and time passing with enjoyment:
Creative Questions – Come up with unique questions and brainstorm answers. Exploring different responses will help your child use their imagination and think about things from many perspectives. (i.e. What does autumn sound like? What does the letter “R” smell like? What do rocks think about? What shape is happiness? What sound does the color blue make?)
Group Storytelling – Create a story together by having one person start by saying a few sentences. The next person continues the story where the first person stopped and so on. Keep it up until the story is fully told and everyone has had a turn.
Treasure Bottle – Fill a recycled bottle or jar with uncooked rice or birdseed until it is 2/3 full. Add 20 or more small objects (i.e. safety pin, paper clip, bolt, penny, bead, lego, button). Make a list of the items and challenge passengers to find all of the objects without opening the container.
The Name Game – Choose a category (example: “animals”). Start with saying an animal (“snake”). The next person has to share an animal that starts with the last letter of the previous one (“elephant”). Try not to repeat any animals and see how long you can play without getting stumped! Other fun categories are: names, states, countries, fruit, etc…
Survival Island – Create a scenario that leaves your group stranded on a deserted island. You only have five items to help everyone survive until the rescuers arrive. Discuss and decide what five items you would like to have. Remember, the whole group has to agree.
Plate Weaving – Make cuts in a paper plate from the outside edge toward the center. Cut strips of yarn or ribbon. Tape one end to the back of the plate. Weave the strip over and under the cut sections of the plate. Can you make a shape or design?
The NCK Health Collaborative is hosting the Healthy Living Summit in Beloit on June 5, 2019! The summit will focus on the topic of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the long lasting impact that traumatic events in childhood like abuse and neglect can have on individuals and families. More details about the event, including registration information, can be found at https://www.postrock.k-state.edu/events/.
Hiring a babysitter to care for your child over a short period of time is common practice. A trustworthy babysitter allows parents and guardians more flexibility to run errands, go on a date, and be more involved in the community. Whether your babysitter is a teenager new to the business or an experienced adult, it is important to leave your care provider with the information necessary to respond to an emergency, meet each child’s unique needs, and maintain your family’s schedule.