September 16, 2011
It’s no secret that we’re all just a little stressed these days. Between the economy and information overload on the internet, we have all sorts of things to worry about nowadays. Stress and anxiety can cause physical pain, emotional strain, and strain in your relationships. When you’re stressed, your body is secreting hormones that put you into that ‘fight or flight’ state. Long term, this state will wear on your body.
Our children pick up on our heightened state and become stressed and anxious, too.This is not a good state for children to thrive in. We learn best when we’re comfortable and relaxed, not if we’re nervous and anxious.
Parents need to learn how to regulate their own stress so that we may help our children learn the same coping techniques.
Tips to regulate stress in the immediate moment:
- Deep Breathing
- Focus on relaxing muscles
- Go for a walk
- Call someone you trust who can help you to laugh
Long term stress regulation tips:
- Yoga, Tai Chi, or Meditation Classes
- Mindfulness-Based Wellness Classes
- Join an organized sport
- Make sure you’re eating healthy
- Make sure you’re sleeping enough
- Regulate screen time
- Learn to say ‘no’ to additional responsibilites. We don’t have to be a super-parent especially if it causes us to become overly stressed. (My personal favorite, although I'm still working on this.)
Relationship expert Dr John Gottman recommends every evening that couples take 20 minutes to have a “Stress Reducing Conversation”. Each partner has 10 minutes to talk about what’s stressing them outside of the relationship (work, friends, etc.). This helps to reduce stress and helps to keep the relationship strong be creating a “united front against the world” sort of feeling. A strong relationship for the parents, creates a more stable home life for the kids.
I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t address the fact that when the economy takes a turn for the worse, shaken baby syndrome, child abuse, and domestic violence cases increase.
By regulating our own stress, we are able to be better parents. We are more patient with ourselves and our children. So, go relax. Play a game. Snuggle on the couch with a book. Forget about the stresses of the day. They’ll still be there tomorrow, but your kids are growing up while you’re fretting about. Take a moment and just breathe.