Over the past 24 months, we have seen a multitude of mental health issues growing within all demographics of our work at IGM.
Illnesses such as toxic stress, which is one’s inability to manage their stress, is causing mental, emotional and physical problems. Social anxiety is another issue we have seen increase dramatically. People have become fearful of other humans and going to public places. A sneeze in a grocery store can send people into a frenzy, and handshakes are almost like dinosaurs, a thing of the past.
One significant issue we have seen is the amount of stress young people are experiencing. We have attributed this to how adults manage their stress.
As someone who battled for years managing my own stress, I always thought I was hiding it from others. But what I was doing was lying to myself. We cannot think properly when we live under unhealthy stress, we call this; lizard brain. It is when we are using the lowest functioning part of our brains, and no rational thinking can occur here. Our ego is activated in an unhealthy manner, and we go into self-preservation mode. I like to call this ‘the box’.
While living in ‘the box’, we think we are protecting ourselves. We blame others for our circumstances and we judge others for their behaviours. Sometimes we begin the pity party and feel sorry for ourselves. None of these are productive behaviours, and yet this is what we are displaying and teaching our children. Giving them the impression that all of this behaviour is ok. It is not.
Our children watch us and they begin to emulate the behaviour. They begin to use words they hear us use. They begin to blame, deflect, condemn and develop their own ‘box’.
These challenging times have exposed our weaknesses, which is terrifying to many. We like our lives to be predictable and safe. However, the last 24 months have removed that usual comfort for all of us.
There are some essential questions we need to ask ourselves.
Do I let my stress affect my kids?
Is my inability to manage my stress affecting my behaviour?
When I am stressed do I lose emotional control of myself?
Do I need to learn some coping skills to manage my stress more effectively?
Do I see my kids showing similar traits in how they are managing their stress? (Shutting down or blowing up)
We know the power of self-reflection. It is something we promote to our clients. Athletes, educators, coaches, business owners, and employees; we all need to take time to reflect. When we do this we can realize where we did well and where we need to improve. We recognize our strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, we can identify where we need to learn and grow.
If you think your stress does not teach your child, student, athlete how to ‘stress’ for themselves, you need to know that it does. Your pain becomes theirs. Your afflictions become theirs. Your stress becomes theirs.
Do yourself and your son or daughter a favour. Do some self-reflection and identify what it is that you may need to learn. The benefits far outweigh the fear that may be stopping you.
When you begin to learn and improve, your children will benefit in more ways than you can imagine.
If you are a parent interested in learning more about stress, the different types of stress, how it affects your loved ones, and what you can do to change the negative outcomes, click here for information about our Understanding Stress for Parents course.