Everyone experiences stress – it’s a normal and often healthy part of life. Some amount of stress can help you meet daily goals, boost your memory, and function as a warning system to keep you safe. Too much stress, however, can be very damaging to the mind and body. Therefore, it is important to teach your children how to manage stress, so that they can effectively deal with any situation life throws at them. Here are some habits you can adopt as well as teach your children in order to make them healthy and resilient:
1. Exercise regularly
Exercise is a natural mood-booster as it helps your body produce endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters. Activities that are continuous and rhythmic—and require moving both your arms and your legs—are especially effective at relieving stress. Walking, running, swimming, dancing, cycling, tai chi, and aerobic classes are good choices. The feeling of accomplishment after exercise can also help increase your self-esteem. We recommend picking an exercise you enjoy so you are more likely to stick with it!
2. Engage socially
Spend time with people who care for you and value you. Our relationships with friends and family help us keep active and happy. It can be a welcome distraction from feeling low, and talking to loved ones about our problems can also help destress and find actionable solutions.
3. Avoid unnecessary stress
Learn how to say “no”. Whether in your personal or professional life, taking on more than you can handle is a sure-fire recipe for stress. Establish your boundaries with others and stick to them. You should also pay attention to your stressors and change your exposure to them: for example, if the morning news makes you anxious, turn off the TV.
4. Adapt to the stressor
Reframe problems: try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than being upset about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favourite radio station, or enjoy some alone time. You can also try to look at the big picture and get perspective. Ask yourself how important any issue you are having will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
5. Take time out for fun and relaxation
Set aside time for rest and relaxation in your daily schedule, and don’t allow other obligations to come in the way of this time. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries. Do something you enjoy – whatever that may be, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
6. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
Our bodies and our minds are closely linked and directly affect one another, so taking care of your body is essential for your mind. Eat a healthy and balanced diet and avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast. Reduce your caffeine and sugar intake – the temporary high is often followed by a crash in mood and energy. Avoid self-medicating with drugs and alcohol as a way to avoid stress. This will make it very difficult to address and resolve your problems head on and with a clear mind. Lastly, get enough sleep! Sleep fuels our minds and bodies and lack of sleep will increase feelings of stress.
Pragya Lodha, MINDS Mumbai Program Director & Psychologist
Ankita Gupta, MINDS Research Associate
Anoushka Thakkar, MINDS Research Associate
Roshni Dadlani, MINDS Communications Lead
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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.
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