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Feeling the Holiday Stress

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I can feel the excitement of the holidays in the air. I can also feel the stress!! Stress is probably one of the worst things for our health, but we often don’t realize how much it affects us. Stress also affects people of all ages so young children may experience stress as well as adults, and everyone in between. Stress may manifest itself in so many ways you can’t even count them but in pediatrics the most common things seem to be headaches, tummy aches, difficulty concentrating and sleeping too.

I thought all kids could fall asleep at night, but the longer I practice the more I realize that kids have problems falling asleep, just like adults. They worry about what went on in their day or what they have to do tomorrow just like we parents do. It could be a test they have to take, or a friend they are concerned about, or the things they overheard their parent’s discussing that day. Those little ears are listening all of the time. How can they hear whispers behind closed doors when they can’t hear “take out the trash”?

Besides trouble sleeping, children will often complain about non-specific headaches and tummy aches. They are always there during the day, but never awaken them at night (at least once they fall asleep). The other interesting thing is that these tummy aches and headaches will get better over holidays and the summer without doing anything. Why is that? The stress of schedules and school is gone and miraculously those aches and pains vanish too.

So during the next week before the holidays and the end of school and the myriad of events that will happen, try to lessen the family stress and enjoy the season. It’s always easier said than done.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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