SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Most of us know every day stress can lead to health problems, but there's something you may not have thought about. We all experience stress to some degree in our daily lives. From work to busy schedules, it's hard to avoid.
While a limited amount of stress is normal, continuous stress can be harmful to your physical and mental health, and stress is affecting children today more than in the past.
That's why Sheryl Egan Olaivar is using her business, Australian Accents, along with her skills as an occupational therapist, to bring awareness. She's sharing her passion for the importance of relaxation in our lives, and she's reaching out to kids.
We caught up with Olaivar at a relaxation class for kids enjoying summer camp at KidsFit in Long Beach. Olaivar says learning how to relax is key to improving overall health at any age.
"I'm teaching them how to relax their nervous systems. That way, when an event does occur, they won't be as stressed out when it starts," said Olaivar.
Olaivar says it's especially important for kids to learn relaxation skills in today's world where they're exposed to so much more stress at an earlier age.
"We think about social media and access to the Internet. Children at a much younger age are far more aware of events, not just in their community, but in the world."
The children say they're feeling the benefits, including 9-year-old Landon Lee.
"It makes me feel relaxed like my bones are loose and I'm ready to do more stuff," said Landon.
Lola Wynne, 10, said it's "relaxing to your muscles and helps me let go of bad thoughts."
Taking some time for quiet and relaxation has been proven to reduce anxiety, decrease depression and improve sleep. It can also reduce the long term risk for serious health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.
"Doing this relaxation class gives them time to just be. They say we all need to spend time not doing, but just being. To enjoy the moment," said Olaivar.
Enjoying the moment is exactly what 7-year-old Ryan Hinton is doing in this class.
"I like that it's a place where I can just be calm," Ryan said.
Ryan says he has even been able to use these relaxation skills to help him sleep better at home. MacKenzie Pierce, 7, also looks forward to the relaxation classes.
"It makes me feel good, because I'm all stressed and I feel better after class," said MacKenzie.
Olaivar holds similar classes all along the coast, promoting the benefits of relaxation for adults, teens and children.