If you’re a parent, you know that stress comes with the territory.
Whatever the age of your children, however much time you have to spend with them, it’s difficult not to become stressed, even at things that seem completely trivial to other people. You’re probably juggling a job, your kids’ busy school or daycare schedules and perhaps helping out elderly parents. You also need to find time to keep your relationship on track and spend time with friends.
It can be a constant struggle to keep everything afloat.
When the stress starts getting too much, it affects your parenting, your relationship and your ability to do your job properly. It’s important to recognize that stress is an inevitable part of parenting, and take steps to manage it properly.
Long-term, there are a lot of things you can do to set your life up so that it’s easier to deal with stress, such as making sure you have good support systems in place. But in the short-term, you might just need some instant stress relief. Follow these tips to help you find it.
It’s a cliché for a reason. Breathing slowly and deeply is a wonderful way to force your body to relax.
Anyone who has ever done a yoga class will know that breathing is a big part of the practice, helping your muscles stretch and allowing you to get more deeply into each pose. Deep breathing has the same power when you’re not doing yoga.
Shallow breathing, which tends to be stress-induced, stimulates the nervous system and therefore makes the stress worse. Deep breathing does the opposite, forcing more oxygen into your body and forcing you to calm down.
So, the next time the kids are driving you mad fighting or you’re struggling to get the baby to sleep, leave the room for a few minutes and breathe slowly.
A vacation is a fantastic stress reliever, but in the middle of a stressful day, you can’t suddenly transport yourself to the beach. You can do the next best thing, which is to take yourself there in your mind.
Remember that all-inclusive you went to on your honeymoon? Or that amazing skiing trip? Take yourself there. This takes a bit of practice, but you already have the skills to do it. Meditation is not as difficult as a lot of people think, and these experiences can help get you in the mindset.
When you think about a stressful situation, as you probably do frequently, what happens? Do you find your body tenses up, and you start to feel uncomfortable? Our brains don’t know whether we’re thinking about something real or imagined, so they cause our bodies to respond as if the thing we’re imagining is real.
Now, instead of thinking about stress, imagine you’re somewhere beautiful and stress-free. Your body will respond and you’ll feel calmer very quickly. Feel the sand between your toes, the sun on your skin, the whoosh as you fly down that ski-slope.
It might take five or ten minutes to get there at first, but if you practice this enough, and you’ll be able to do it in just a few seconds. It’s a brilliant tool to have on a tough day.
Loving physical contact is an instant stress reliever and mood booster.
And if the cause of your stress is an argument, it can also help you make up. A hug is a literal reconnection, forcing you to forget about whatever it is that’s causing stress and just stop, even for a few seconds. Simply take the time to stop and take them in your arms. This will help take you out of your situation and get positive feelings flowing. It will remind you that you love them.
You can also do this with your kids, especially if they’re younger ones. Even if you need to reprimand them or talk about something they’ve done, a hug can have its place as part of that, and will help them calm down as well as you.
Think about someone sitting in a rocking chair knitting. Isn’t that just a picture of calm? There’s a reason for that. Knitting is a proven stress-reliever. It forces you to focus and takes you away from whatever noise and chaos is surrounding you.
It can provide a sense of order. As you’re knitting, you’re creating something, so there’s satisfaction to be gained from that too. If knitting is not your thing, some other kind of craft such as woodwork might fulfil the same role.
Even concentrating on a jigsaw puzzle can help stress.
Everything seems better when you have fresh air in your lungs. Much of the stress of dealing with children comes from feeling cooped up in the house and unable to escape. Even just a walk down to the end of the back yard can help you refocus.