Speaker Maureen Sullivan gave an inspiring presentation on helping stressed youth at the last Carp Healing Circle, Sunday, Feb 14 at the Carp Memorial Hall. Her presence was calming and her twenty years of experience working in the field of counselling children and adults, were obvious in the quiet confidence she exuded in answering even the most intense questions from the audience.
She began with some information about what stress is and how it shows up differently for kids and adults. Young people tend to “catastrophize” things that are easier to take in stride after more years of experience. We forget how frightening it was…
Stress is what we feel when there is an actual or perceived threat. The body tenses to fight or flee, creating all kinds of symptoms such as sweating, headaches, trouble breathing, feeling unwell, nausea or upset stomach, feeling tired or exhausted, insomnia, increased heart rate, body aches and tense muscles.
Mental symptoms can include trouble thinking clearly, being forgetful, not being able to make decisions, memory loss, being overly emotional or having trouble controlling emotions and constant worry. Sound familiar?
The problem is that in our modern world, fighting or running away doesn’t solve the stress. We have to learn to work through what stresses us—whether it has a solution or not. Either way, we can learn to feel more relaxed and in control in our lives. Then we can model this for our kids. Apparently parents and family problems are one of the more common stressors for young people!
How do we notice when our kids are stressed? We might see alcohol abuse, smoking a lot, constant gum chewing, grinding teeth, overeating or not eating, being very critical of other people, spending lots of time in front of the TV, computer or video games, not being able to get things done, taking risks that can have negative consequences and sleeping too much or too little.
How do we help our youth when they are stressed? It begins with communication. “But they don’t want to talk to me”, say the parents. Parents and adults who want to help young people need to learn to listen to them and talk less, patiently building bridges, learning the signs of stress and how to communicate effectively.
From there Maureen offered tips, techniques and experiential exercises which left us feeling relaxed, hopeful and uplifted. As well we received a large package of information and resources that looks extremely useful for following up with more help if needed.
Some of the many useful points included the concept of “beyond stress”, when the symptoms mentioned above slide into anxiety and depression; naming feelings and the things that stress us; and using our senses to bring our attention out of worry into the present, also known as mindfulness.
As usual, we had a nutrition break with samples of easy foods to prevent our bodies from becoming depleted when we are going through intense stress, focussing on water, proteins and minerals.
Thank you Maureen for volunteering your time for this incredibly important issue which causes so much suffering in our families and community.
Maureen will be presenting on similar topics in Carp in the spring. If you are interested in attending, please leave us your name and contact information at 613-839-1198 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next month’s healing circle will be on Sunday, March 6 from 2-4 pm with naturopathic doctor Marcin Padlewski N.D. presenting on supplements and remedies that can be useful for decreasing stress. Please RSVP to the contact above if you would like to attend. There is no fee thanks to the sponsorship of local charity Carp Ridge Learning Centre.