April is Stress Awareness Month and in the next few blogs I would love to share some thoughts and information with you about this critically important issue. Here is the first piece of information you might have not thought about. Stress and joy cannot co-exist.
What this means is that the higher your stress levels are, the lower the amount of joy you are able to feel for yourself or to give to others. If you think about this statement, it is pretty scary, considering the amount of stress and pressure that seems to be so much a part of our way of life today.
But here’s the most confronting aspect of this relationship between stress and joy and it is the fact that the more stressed you are as a parent or a teacher, the less joy your children or students will experience when they are with you. In other words, the amount of joy your children experience around you is directly linked to the amount of stress you exude – the higher your stress, the lower their joy. Wow!
So, as a parent or teacher, take a few moments to ask yourself:
Do I exude more stress than joy or more joy than stress?
What are my kids absorbing from me – stress or joy?
There is Good Stress and Bad Stress.
We need to remember that not all stress is bad. Good stress gives us the drive and energy and motivation to make good things happen and to live a responsible life. This kind of healthy stress is always short-term. Here’s what happens. We are concerned about something – our stress level rises – this pushes us to deal with the issue – and the stress level returns again to normal levels.
In the case of bad stress, our stress levels never go back down to normal. Instead we continue to build more and more stress. So chronic stress is bad stress and this is dangerous because it hurts the way our bodies our brains function. I love the way Dr. Brazelton describes this …“Stress in small amounts is like sunshine – a little bit is fine. But just like too much sunshine damages the skin, too much stress damages the brain.”
It is up to us as parents or teachers to Take Charge! of our own stress so that we do not steal the joy of the children around us. I have a 5-step process for minimizing stress, but today let’s look at the first step, because this will determine whether you actually have the ability to deal with your stress or not. This step is about Taking Ownership. The goal of this step is to be brutally honest with ourselves by identifying whether the level of stress we feel is good stress or bad stress, healthy stress or chronic stress. By knowing this, we can avoid the trap of being in denial or ignoring something that is hurting us and our children. (Feel free to email me if you would like a quick and easy assessment tool that will tell you whether your have chronic or healthy stress.)
What do you think? Do you have the level of stress that is stealing your joy and your children’s joy? It’s a tough question, I know, but one that we do really need to be courageous enough to think about.
In her blogs and her videos – Monday Morning Coaching Tips – Dr Gluckman shares the 5-Step Process to Recognize, Reduce and Remove Stress.