The fact about being a parent is that our children are always watching us, taking their cues about how to manage life’s ups and downs from what they observe us doing. Whether we’re gripping the steering wheel on a red light because we’re running late, or shouting at someone who took the parking space we had our eye on, our kids are always observing. Whenever we manage stress in unhealthy ways – with anger, blame, yelling and so forth – basically we are teaching our children to do the same. Sometimes it is hard to manage life’s difficult moments but we should always look for healthier ways to relieve of your stress. Below are some tips that should help to reduce your stress:
- Make your life simple: Most of the time we take on more than what we can handle, and then feel stressful about having said “yes” when we wanted to say “no.” Trimming your commitments down to those that are either important, bring you pleasure or satisfaction of some kind.
- Don’t take it personally: Have you ever thought why a particular incident can cause one person to feel awfully hurt, while another thinks it off as no big deal? People who are more laid-back don’t take things as personally, and are less caught up in winning approval. Rather than letting your blood boil when your mother-in-law suggests that she never had problems getting her children to clean up their toys (really?), allow her comments to roll off your back without turning them into a assertion about your worth as a mother.
- Get good sleep: One of the best ways to increase your ability to deal with stress is to get more rest. The average person needs 7 to 8 hours a sleep to recharge. When we don’t get enough sleep, we can experience problems with mood swings, focus, memory, tiredness and stress. If you need to take an afternoon nap with your toddler instead of tackling the dirty dishes, take the nap. The more rested you feel, the better you’ll be able to deal with life’s challenges.
- Be social and get help: For many parents, the tasks involved with raising children are never-ending and makes them keep running from morning to night. If you’re tired, exhausted or need a break, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Meet a few other parents who will swap school drop offs, pick ups, or even join a rotating homework club that moves from house to house. We are meant to raise children in a tribe or with the support of an extended family. If you don’t have a network of helpful, trustworthy people to depend upon, sure it’s time to create one.
- One thing at a time: Many of us as parents try to juggle far too many errands at once, in the name of efficiency. Slow down and focus on the one thing you’re doing at a given time – whether it’s serving a meal or giving a bath to your toddler. Even more important to give your children your undivided attention for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day when you aren’t trying to get them to do something. Getting your positive attention will have the extra benefit of motivating your children to be more supportive.
- Exercise and long breathing: One of the best ways to strengthen you against stress is to exercise regularly. I understand not all of us can make it to gym, but think about what you loved to do when you were a child. Did you like to jump rope? Ride your bike? Choose something that you really enjoy, and consider finding an exercise buddy to make it more fun. A few slow, long and calming breaths can immediately reset your stress-clock. Some people like to recite a word or phrase like Ommmm… or Buzzzz.. or sing while breathing deeply. You may want to explore meditation as well. Whatever gets you breathing and physically relaxed will help you manage your difficult moments with more grace and peace. Not only will you be better able to manage with stress – you’ll be in better health, too.
- Play with your kids: Remember your childhood what it was like to have fun? For many parents, life is about crossing things off a to-do list. Without time built into each day for nourishing our spirit, we become more vulnerable to frustration and stress. Laugh, tell jokes, draw, have a dance contest with your children. These small acts can make a big difference in your stress level by helping you reconnect with the playful and happy parts of yourself that can get buried under the list of things-to-do.
- Imperfection is ok: Most of us have internalized someone else’s voice in our head – a critical teacher or parent, perhaps – and feel that we’re never good enough. Aiming for constant perfection creates constant stress. If you’re too tired to clean your house before your guests come for dinner, allow your best to be good enough.
In today’s fast-paced world – life can wear you down, causing you to be ever more helpless to stress as you feel burdened by the never-ending demands placed upon you. Consider these steps and take time to reconsider where you can make adjustments in your daily life that will help you handle those difficult experiences more easily. You’ll not only be doing yourself a favor – your children will benefit from seeing their mom and dad takes care of themselves. Teach them they can also learn to manage life’s frustrations in much healthier ways.