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What We Can Do About Toxic Stress

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University offers the field a timely infographic entitled “What We Can Do About Toxic Stress.” It explains the concept using a clever analogy of an overburdened truck hauling too much cargo and offers some practical advice about ways to lighten the load. “Just as a truck can only bear so much weight before it . . . stops moving forward, challenging life circumstances can weigh caregivers down (making) it hard to do the things they need and want to do.” The infographic suggests seeking out supports and services that “allow caregivers to focus on caring for themselves and their children,” such as food pantries, free activities for children and families, connecting with other parents, and seeking help from professionals. Once the stress has lifted, it can also be beneficial to help others by “joining in advocacy to expand family supports.” Being connected to others really helps to lessen the burden of toxic stress.

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Strategies for Managing Stress

The work of an Early Start professional is rewarding, but can be stressful. Stress impacts all areas of our lives, including our work with children and families. Managing stress is key to good health, wellness, and effectiveness as professionals.

The National Center on Health in Head Start has published a newsletter on addressing your own stress, and for managers to support your team members. While this publication was originally written for Head Start professionals, the tips and resources are useful for all professionals working with children and families.

Read the newsletter below.

What tips or strategies do YOU have for managing stress? Comment below to share!


This resource is related to one or more competencies in the ICC-Recommended Early Start Personnel Manual (ESPM). To find out more, visit this resource in the Neighborhood here.

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