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Managing Stress in Mom and Child, Part 3: Countering the Harmful Impact w/ Guest A. Colliatie, LMFT

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

In part three, Countering the Harmful Impact of Stress, Val Harrison, the Practically Speaking MOM, and her guest, licensed marriage and family therapist, Amanda Colliatie, discuss MORE ways to BUFFER STRESS in your life and in the life of your child. Val talks about how to get kids' on board with monitoring their stress levels and reminds us that kids' minds need time to create, problem solve, hear God's voice, reflect - Don't keep noise such as the t.v. or radio - as a CONSTANT wallpaper in their life. They need time for quiet, too! This episode ends with Val and Amanda praying for all the wonderful intentional mamas that listen to this ministry.

"Moms, it's important to remember that regardless of the stress that is going on, you are unbelievably powerful for buffering your family's stress. Studies show that you really only need to get it right about 35% of the time.  You don't have to be perfect to have kids that are doing okay. So be encouraged!" Amanda Colliatie, LMFT

❗💌❕Here's Amanda's notes for us from Part Three of Managing Stress for Mom & Child: Countering the Harmful Impact. Intentional moms, I'm praying that you're growing right along with me in this important topic,


From Amanda -

Good Sleep Habits

(Source: Brandon Peters, MD,

Sleep hygiene is really important for our immune system. Sleep is the first thing humans neglect during high stress situations.

This causes a downstream effect. Poor sleep habits impair

💤 cognitive functioning,


💤mood regulation,

💤and capacity to manage difficult situations.

Sleep deprivation doesn’t just make you grumpy and groggy, it makes you sick. While you sleep, your immune system does a system-wide upgrade, using the downtime to re-calibrate your hormones and defenses. A lack of sleep leaves children and adults more susceptible to illness because the immune system doesn’t appropriately fight off the viruses and bacteria that it is constantly exposed to.

What's Your Sleep Routine?

Stay on a routine for going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. If you cannot do both, research shows that waking up at the same time every day is more helpful.

Avoid computer, phone, tablet, and TV screens for approximately one hour before bedtime.

Keep a consistent sleep routine, such as readying yourself for bed then reading or meditating for 30 minutes. This signals your brain that it is time to slow down and prepare to sleep.

Regular Exercise and Healthy Diet

(Source: Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ book The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity)

Engaging in regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet helps

💚reduce stress hormones,

💚reduce inflammation,

💚and enhance neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury )in both children and adults.

Intentional movement with the goal of working up a sweat helps increase the release of a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is basically like Miracle-Gro for the brain and nerve cells in the body. This protein is an active part of the brain and important for learning and memory integration.

Regular exercise also helps regulate the stress response and reduce the presence of inflammatory cytokines (the chemical alarms that fire up your immune system and tell it to fight). For people with toxic stress, moderate physical activity (like breaking a sweat for roughly an hour a day) can help the body better decide which fights to pick and which ones to walk away from.

Address what you can

Prepare for things as much as possible (without obsessing), planning ahead sends a calming signal to your brain and helps mitigate stress hormones.

Reduce time urgency: Slow down and allow yourself time for the things you need to do or take a few things slow on purpose (eating and driving for example), change your approach from “racing” to “pacing.”

Maximize your best time of day: Be productive during your good time of day and resting during your “down time.” Use your “awake time” and “down time” to your advantage.

Look at your situation without denial or avoidance: Become willing to accept the realities of what has happened and deal with the real problems in a mature and productive way. Finding a good solution to the things you are encountering will help you regain control.

Mindfulness, Meditation, and Journaling

Focusing a child and adult’s attention on soothing the body’s response to stress

🌹 decreases cortisol levels,

🌹enhances healthy sleep,

🌹improves immune function,

🌹and decreases inflammation

- all are critical parts of keeping our biological systems balanced and able to mitigate the effects of toxic stress.

Incorporating scripture and prayer into your time of meditation brings peace and hope to your spirit which calms your body’s stress response. This is especially true if you do these activities as a family when possible. Amanda recommends Headspace, Calm, and YouTube are platforms to find guided mindfulness and meditation practices for all ages.

Journaling is also an excellent way to get your fears and thoughts out of your brain… even just making a list of questions you wish you had the answers to helps you clarify what your needs are.

Here is a recommended list of questions for journaling your response to:

1. “What is the real issue here?” 2. “What are some reasonable solutions to this?” 3. “How real is this and what evidence do I have to support that conclusion?” 4. “Am I overreacting here and/or am I overthinking this?” 5. “How would a wise person handle this?” 6. “What do I really want in this situation?” 7. “What would be a reasonable outcome?” 8. “What is the worst-case scenario?” 9. “What is the best-case scenario?” 10. “What thought is my brain struggling the most to turn off right now?”

Mind Your Mental Health

Finding a therapist who you and your child feel safe with helps calm the Polyvagal System (stress response system) by giving you the space and time to organize your current mental load and find healing for your past hurts. A thoughtful therapist offers encouragement and direction during difficult and complex times. Their kind attunement (attentive response to another person) soothes the brain’s stress response and decreases cortisol levels, while increasing feelings of safety, connection, and hope.

Turning Around Toxic Stress

Above all else, it is important to remember that many of the effects of toxic stress can be reversed.

The earlier toxic stress can be caught and met with a healthy response, the more effectively the healing from its effects.

Relationships are key and healthy, supportive, stable ones have an extraordinary capacity to fortify people – children and adults – against the damaging effects of toxic stress. It’s the power of human connection, and it’s profound.

Amanda Colliatie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Encounter Freedom Therapy Center in Wichita, KS. Find them on Facebook here.

Sources: Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ book The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity. A Mind Frozen in Time: A PTSD Recovery Guide by Dr. Jeremy P. Crosby.

  • SAMHSA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCSTI), trauma/understanding-child-trauma Brandon Peters, MD, 3973920 The Gottman Institute, according-science/


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