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Study Finds Stress-filled Parents Affect Children’s Health

Stressed Relax!

Responsible parents’ primary concern is the health and well-being of their children. Usually, the health of parents’ children—both mental and physical—is contingent upon the manner in which they conduct their lives when it comes to the things they put into their bodies and the people they surround themselves with. But there’s a new body of evidence from the science world suggesting that the mental health of parents has just as much of an impact on them as it does on their children.

All of us are burdened by stress.  Stress isn’t always a bad thing.  In fact, some stress is a good thing (it’s called eustress).  But the meaning we typically associate with stress – the kind you feel when a crucial deadline needs to be met at work and you worry about the ramifications if you miss it, that kind – is a leading cause for illness in the workplace.  In fact, according to the Health and Safety Commission, a third of all ill health incidents reported at the workplace are attributable to stress, and an estimated 13.8 million work days were lost in 2006 due to stress.  That kind of number corroborates survey findings indicating that stress causes more work absences than the common cold.

Just as common colds are easily spread, apparently, so is stress.  Recently published in the New Scientist magazine, researchers observed 120 families and asked the parents of the families to keep a journal of their kids’ illnesses over the course of three years.  In addition to keeping track of their kids’ bouts of sickness – all of whom were between the ages of 5 and 10 – parents were also asked to fill out questionnaires every six months about their own mental health, as well any incidents of family conflict.

Almost uniformly, researchers found a correlation between the number of times children got sick and the level of anxiety parents felt.  In short, the more stressed parents were, the more sick kids were.

Regarding the findings, researchers said this should help the scientific community better understand “the biological impact…of chronic stress in families on specific immune functions in a sample of generally healthy children.”  The findings are published in the most recent edition of the journal Brain Behavior and Immunity.

It’s so important to relax, take a deep breath and try to convince yourself that things will be all right.  This isn’t such an easy thing, though – talking yourself into relaxing.  To help yourself relax, try meditation and exercise.  Exercise is an especially great way of lowering stress levels as it increases blood flow to the brain and helps get your mind off of everyday stressors.

There are also a number of things you can eat to help reduce stress.  The best foods are ones rich in vitamins like B complex (e.g. leafy green vegetables and fresh fish like snapper) and minerals like selenium (e.g. mushrooms and fresh fish like snapper or salmon) and manganese (e.g. spinach, raspberries and pineapple).

A healthy family is a stress-free family.  Though the stresses in life are impossible to avoid, with a little effort (and some deep breaths), we can reduce the impact stress has on our families’ well-being.

Related Posts

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  2. Breastfeeding Gives Children Better Vision Than “Bottle-Fed” Babies, Study Finds
  3. Zinc Supplementation Reduces Death Risk in Children, Study Finds
  4. Study Says High Sodium Levels in Children is Cause for Concern
  5. Study: Cough Medicine Ineffective For Both Children AND Adults
  


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