There are many negative effects of stress. Stress makes us feel bad all over. It increases irritability and everyday activities become chores. We begin avoiding our usual activities—even things we enjoy. Stress also prompts us to make unsound, unwise decisions, including those that directly affect our finances and our jobs. It impinges on our appetites, having us feel like either eating too much or not enough. Sometimes we even begin to neglect our physical appearance.
Clearly, the effects of stress on the mind and body are numerous. Unfortunately, adults aren’t the only ones who experience stress. Children feel stress too.
Since stress can powerfully affect learning, you can predict that children living in high-anxiety households would not perform as well academically as kids living in nurturing households. Research bears this out: Children living in unstable emotional homes (those with conflict) get lower grades and do worse on standardized tests.
The stronger the degree of conflict, the greater the effect on performance. Such students are five times more likely to live in poverty. Teachers find emotionally distracted children so upset and preoccupied by the explosive drama of their own family lives that they are unable to concentrate in class.
You Can Combat the Negative Effects of Stress
Stress is related to perceiving life as manageable or unmanageable. Circumstances present problems or challenges—depending on your perspective. Up close, the earth looks flat; from outer space, it’s round. The difference is in the perspective. Similarly, without your being mindful of what is happening, you are creating your own perception of reality that often leads to stress.
Anticipation or anxiety can lead to stress. The human mind is so powerful, the connection between perception and physiological response so strong, that we can send off the flight or fight response by merely imagining ourselves in a threatening situation. This ability can be a source of power or an invitation to illness.
Knowing all this, adults have a responsibility to help children minimize stress so they can perform adequately in school and not experience the negative effects of stress. This website is filled with suggestions on how to do that.
What are some of your best techniques for mitigating the negative effects of stress that you’ve used for yourself and for the children in your life? Please share your comments on the Without Stress Facebook page.