As Head of School for Clairbourn, I read a few interesting studies recently that talked about cultivating resilience and the difficulty of unrelenting stress.
In one of the studies, the author discussed the notion that stress is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, you need a little stress in your experience to encourage you to make changes. The tension or discomfort of not doing one’s best is what makes us try harder the next time. This is the way stress can actually help us come out stronger or more resilient from challenges. The struggle makes us stronger.
However, when the stress is unrelenting, it can wear on a person (child or adult). This kind of scenario tends not to strengthen, but to weaken the person involved. But there is a way to ensure the stress is not unrelenting. There are very simple ways to interrupt the stress and give a moment to have the growth and rejuvenation that we all need after a time of struggle.
In one study, they found clear evidence that the best way to counteract or interrupt stress is with love. I know, it sounds a little sentimental, but the act of hugging, or snuggling on the couch, or having your arm around your child when you read them a story actually makes a physical difference. That hug gives you a physical break from stress. (For those who are interested, the hormone oxytocin that is released during these times of social bonding is sometimes called the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone.” This is a biological signal to the body that it is safe and can relax.)
So even in times of prolonged difficulty, taking a minute to hug your child actually helps both you and your child release some of the tension or stress that may be stockpiling. For those of you who are not feeling stressed, the hugs and cuddling will help maintain your equilibrium.
When your child is acting “prickly” hug them, because they NEED it. When they are frustrated or irritable hug them, because they need it. When you are at your wit’s end, hug them because YOU need it! Apparently the Beatles knew what they were talking about “All You Need is Love!”
I am sending each and every one of you a big virtual hug from Clairbourn, because we ALL need it! (This concept comes mainly from a short book called Childhood, Interrupted by Sanjay Gupta MD)