If you’re a parent, you are going to feel some form of stress. It may be a little, it may be a lot, but it will definitely be there. Even the most chilled out moms and dads will feel the pinch of a harsh word or a raised temper from time to time. It’s not pleasant, and the guilt that follows these exchanges is huge. Everyone feels bad. So it’s a good idea to reduce your stress levels as much as possible, thereby allowing everyone to have a lovely, happy life for as much as possible. You may not be able to rid your life entirely of stress (we actually need to be stressed at times; it’s a survival mechanism), but getting a handle on it is a great way to manage.
Know The Signs
In order to combat stress, it’s essential that you know the signs. When you have identified what stresses you the most, and how you react to that stress, you can take it in hand a lot more easily. So what are the signs to look out for? Raised blood pressure is one of the biggest ones. This can cause a spiked heart rate, and can even make you feel dizzy. You’ll also find that you’re talking much more loudly – you might even be yelling. You’ll feel impatient and irritable, and there will be lapses in judgment that means you jump to conclusions, blaming the kids for something when it wasn’t their doing at all, for example. When this happens, your children will be negatively affected. Therefore you need to be more in tune with your body and watch out for these warning signs.
Stress can happen for a variety of reasons. You may have got a new job, and it’s harder work than before, or perhaps you have money worries. Maybe you’ve just moved home, and it’s hard to settle in (at least if you pick a good small moves company the move itself will be less stressful, though). Perhaps you’re just tired and need a break. Whatever the reasons behind the stress, it’s important to take some time out when you’re not feeling your best. Just a few minutes away from everyone and everything can give you the time you need to calm down and de-stress enough to go back with a fresh perspective on things. Go to your room and lie down to listen to some calming music while you decompress. Let your family know that you just need a little time to process things and that you will continue the conversation (in a better frame of mind) when you return. Perhaps everyone could do with taking a break so that the entire situation, whatever it may be, is much clearer too.
There will be certain times of the day that are more stressful than others. In the morning when everyone is rushing around to get ready for work and school, it can be overwhelming, for example, and that sets the entire day off on the wrong foot. Work out what these ‘hot times’ are and find solutions so that they aren’t so stressful. If the morning time is the issue because the children can’t decide what to wear and breakfast takes forever, you could get them to choose their clothes the night before (or choose them for them) and prepare breakfast in advance. That way, everything will be much more organized, and the stress levels will be a lot lower. If your most stressful time comes at your kids’ bedtime, then find a routine or rewards system that works better than your current one; ask the children what they need to make their bedtimes easier.
Meditation techniques can work wonders at de-stressing you when you feel like you are overwhelmed and liable to explode at any moment. Meditation helps the mind and the body to relax, and what’s more, your entire family can meditate together if they want to, giving everyone more peace and relaxation. It can have a truly positive effect on everyone’s lives, so it is certainly something to consider. One quick and easy way to attempt meditation is called ‘elevator breathing.’ Close your eyes and imagine you’re in an elevator at the top of a very tall building. Breathe in and out three times, very slowly, then press the button for the first floor in your mind. As you descend, keep doing your breathing exercises. By the time you reach the bottom, your stress should have melted away. There are many different techniques, some taking longer than others, so work out which one is best for you and implement it in your life for some easy de-stressing.
Do Some Exercise
Exercise is a wonderful thing to do because it keeps us fit and healthy, of course. However, it does a lot more than that. When exercising, your body releases serotonin, which is the anti-stress hormone. It replaces cortisol (the stress hormone) and makes us feel happy and balanced. It’s why, once you get into the swing of your exercise class or workout, you’ll start to really enjoy it and feel good about what you’re doing. You’ll feel a lot less stressed. What works even better is finding an exercise you can do with the whole family. Not only will you be feeling good, but you’ll be feeling good together, creating lovely memories and enjoying one another’s company. You might go for a long walk, take a bike ride, go swimming, or even join a dance class.
When was the last time you really laughed? Not just vaguely smiled, not just felt amused, but really laughed out loud? You need to be doing more of that. Stressed people have a lot of tension in their faces, making their jaws ache and creating headaches or even migraines. Having a proper old belly laugh can relieve that tension and wipe away the stress. So find some fun ways to bring laughter into your life for you and the children. It’s all about having fun in any way you can – that’s what life should be like.