Stress Management Tips for Parents
Whether you're a stay-at-home parent or a working parent, stress will occasionally creep into your life. How often are you visited by stress? Does it come and go? Does it hunker down and stay for a while? How do we know when stress is impairing our functioning? What can we do to prevent stress from getting out of hand? These are all important questions that we need to pay attention to regularly. Stress can negatively impact our health, our kids, our marriage, and our work. Here are some tips on how to recognize symptoms of stress and manage that stress effectively.
Note: Your first stop should be a visit to your doctor to evaluate the cause of your symptoms and rule out whether you are having any serious physical or mental illness. The following tips should not be considered a substitute for a medical evaluation.
Some possible symptoms of stress include:
decreased sense of satisfaction in life
increased alcohol/caffeine/drug use
difficulty making decisions
snapping at loved ones/stressed personal relationships
Some things you can do to manage stress in your life:
Develop a support network. Support networks can include family, friends, or workmates. If you're a stay-at-home parent, it's especially important to reach out to others for support. Get to know the other parents at your child's school. If you have a very young child, try to find a play group or mom's group to attend. Volunteer at your child's school.
Leave time for relaxing. Don't overbook yourself. Be selective about the activities you choose for yourself and your family members. Kids need time to unwind, just like adults. Stressed parents can create stressed children. Enjoy relaxing with your kids. Have fun playing board games, going for walks, or watching movies together. And don't forget taking time to relax by yourself or with friends. Get yourself a babysitter and enjoy some kid free time!
Start a hobby. Some hobbies might include crafts, gardening, reading, or playing music. Participating in a hobby is also good role modeling for your kids. Help your child take interest in a hobby or participate in a hobby together with your child. Hobbies can be great outlets for stress. Take a class to learn more about your hobby.
Exercise. Keep yourself physically fit. Regular exercise is one of the best stress reducers. If you need time away from the kids, exercise solo. Or, make exercising a family activity. Join a gym, power walk, ride your bike, purchase some exercise equipment or an exercise video. It's a great idea to alternate your exercise routine to avoid boredom. Instead of working out to your exercise video one day, take a vigorous walk. Even if you exercise for 15 minutes of less during a peak stress period, you'll rapidly decrease that stress level. And, you'll feel much better about yourself! If you are pregnant or suffer from any medical conditions, have your doctor approve your exercise plan.
Get enough sleep. Rest is incredibly important for maintaining good health. If you continuously have difficulty with nighttime sleep, problem solve with your doctor about improving the situation. If you find yourself waking up frequently to feed or comfort your baby, make sure you try to catch up on that sleep. Do some research on helping your child sleep through the night. If you're a stay-at-home parent, nap when your child naps. It's more important to rest than get those extra chores done around the house.
If you're a working parent, try to rest during a work break or have your spouse share in the responsibility of attending to your child during the night. Take time during weekends to relax and nap. Have a friend come and watch your child for an hour so you can take a nap.
Keep a journal. Jot things down that make you feel stressed. Look for patterns. Try to pinpoint your exact stressors. Formulate solutions. Sometimes, merely the act of recording your feelings in a journal will help alleviate your stress.
Keep the clutter at bay. Mess can feel overwhelming. Unclutter your home. Your home should feel like your sanctuary, but if it's filled with clutter, you may feel a sense of chaos and stress. Take time to organize. Make cleaning and organizing a game with your kids. Make it a treasure hunt. Keeping clutter minimized can feel impossible with young children. If this is the case, pick a room in your house to use as your sanctuary and keep that room uncluttered. Or, just work on one room at a time. Remember, don't create stress by expecting the whole house to stay immaculate. Be realistic.
Delegate jobs to others. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Teach your kids at a young age how to help around the house. Share household responsibilities with your spouse. Ask extended family or friends to pick the kids up from school once in a while or baby-sit while you take a break. At work, ask for help if needed or speak up if you feel that your work load is overwhelming.
Listen to relaxing music or sounds. Get yourself some relaxation tapes and take some time throughout the day to listen and unwind.
Practice relaxation activities. Practice activities such as guided imagery, meditation, yoga, or deep breathing on a regular basis.
Check out stress management books to get more ideas on stress reduction activities.
by Joanne McNulty, Free Printable Behavior Charts