Stress Management (Children)

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Stress affects each of the five dimensions of health: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Examples of "distressors" (negative stressors) that children and adolescents may confront within these dimensions include: illness, injury, inadequate nutrition, and low levels of physical fitness (physical dimension); pressures to excel in academic and extracurricular activities, depression, and anxiety (mental/emotional dimension); relational issues, peer pressure, and dysfunctional family lives (social dimension); and inability to find purpose in life or to understand how individual lives contribute to a much larger and grander universe (spiritual dimension).

Rather than how much stress individuals experience, the critical issue seems to be how they perceive stress and respond to it. Seaward (1997) points out that coping with stress is an ongoing process. Therefore, it is critical that children and adolescents are given opportunities to develop life skills that will help them effectively cope with daily stressors, major life events, and change. The purpose of this Digest is to examine how comprehensive school health programs may promote stress management. THE COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL HEALTH PROGRAM (CSHP)

A recently conceptualized model (Allensworth, Lawson, Nicholson, & Wyche, 1997) describes four key elements of CSHPs: community participation and focus, school environment, education, and services. Each of these areas is linked to enhance the well-being of the entire school and community. Examples of how stress management can be promoted through these components follow. COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AND FOCUS

School health efforts must be coordinated with the community at large. There are numerous ways in which stress management strategies can involve families and communities: 1. School health newsletters sent home and to community agencies may include health facts, tips, family activity ideas, and resources for further information on a particular health...
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