Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is committed to the physical and mental well-being of all residents of NC, including the younger ones and a big part of preventive care maintenance is managing stress. It’s easy for adults to assume that the lives of children are virtually stress-free. After all, kids don’t have to hold down a job, pay a mortgage, or provide for a family. The world of children is mostly playing, resting and eating, right? Not so fast. There is an increasing awareness among both physicians and educators that suggests that children often experience as much, and sometimes even more, stress than the average adult. Why is this?
We all know that stress is ultimately a result of the pressure we feel regarding our ability – physically, emotionally, financially, etc. – to meet the demands of our lives. We feel this pressure externally from our employers, spouses, children, extended family members and friends alike. Everyone in our lives seems to need something from us and oftentimes they all need it at the same time – right now! This creates added pressure, which leads to stress. But pressure also arises from internal sources and this is where the world of children is simply not immune. Children, just like adults, have a desire to please and kids experience the same kinds of emotions we do when it comes to guilt or shame over what we believe we ought to be able to accomplish and the reality of what we are actually capable of accomplishing. The gap between how we are and how we think we should be can be a tough place to navigate.
Ultimately, this gap can create a feeling of overwhelming pressure and even children experience it. The pressures of trying to fit in, succeed academically, please parents and maintain a sometimes unrealistic expectation of beauty or performance all create stress in our kids. In addition, kids these days are incredibly busy. They are always on the go and have less and less time to play a game or read a book or talk to parents. The constant interruption of cell phones, text messaging and Facebook chatter doesn’t help. Simply put, the noise of our modern-day lives has increased exponentially and this affects both children and adults alike.
In addition, stress can be magnified by family problems, such as divorce or death. Even if they aren’t speaking up, children often internalize the stress experienced by their parents. If children overhear their parents talking about money problems, family issues, or trouble at the office, they may experience the same stress their parents are feeling related to these issues, even if they don’t completely understand the problem. Things like world news and scrolling headlines can also add internalized stress to children’s lives, which oftentimes they don’t know how to discuss. If your kids catch headlines about war, natural disasters, terrorism, and the like, it’s important to talk with them about what’s happening and where, as well as how it affects, or doesn’t affect, them personally.
The other thing to keep in mind is that what may seem like no big deal to your average grown-up can be grossly magnified in the eyes of a child. Talking with kids about the things that are worrying them is an important part of helping them manage their stress. Also remember that all children are different and have different personalities. Some may handle stress better than others. Some children are easygoing and may adjust to changing events and new situations very easily. Other children are completely unsettled. A child’s age can also affect how well they are able to manage stressful circumstances and perceived failures. For instance, carrying a few extra pounds may be a minor issue for a six-year old girl, but a source of daily grief for a female in adolescence.
Whatever its form, if stress is too intense or lasts too long, it will eventually take its toll. Just like in adults, stress can lead to a loss of sleep, loss of appetite, anger, depression, a drop in school grades and even behavioral issues. When stress becomes particularly intense, it can accelerate your child’s breathing and heartbeat, constrict blood vessels, increase blood pressure and muscle tension and lead to upset stomach or headaches. Other symptoms of stress can be illness, fatigue, nightmares, insomnia, temper tantrums, and teeth grinding. If you think your child might be experiencing stress related symptoms, it is probably a good idea to visit your primary care physician.
The main thing to keep in mind is that children do experience stress and it warrants our attention. Also, keep in mind that children improve in their ability to handle stress the more times they are successful in managing life challenges that come their way. If they feel they have the ability and the emotional support of family and friends, children are also more likely to cope successfully with stress. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina understands that life can be stressful no matter how old… or young you may be. Along with being insured, visiting your doctor regularly, eating healthy and exercising, a big part of practicing preventive care maintenance is learning to manage stress in a successful and productive way.
For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents. Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.