Have you ever felt like you’re being pulled in all directions? Your child (or children) wants one thing, your partner expects another, and maybe we shouldn’t even get started thinking about other responsibilities like taking care of the house or work.
Raising your family is great for your heart, but sometimes the demands of parenthood are so strong the stress can feel overwhelming.
If you feel tired and frustrated of the balancing act at the end of the day, take a deep breath and know that there is help!
Consider these ways to manage stress in a chaotic environment:
- Focus on what you can control. It’s natural for people to feel stressed when things don’t go their way. One of the most important lessons in life is to learn to divert our focus towards things we can control. For example, there will be moments when your children don’t act how you expect. Remember that you can’t control how they act, but you can control the example you set for them, and the way you react to their behavior.
- Prioritize quality time. Think about how you spend your time each day. If you have a career/business alongside raising your children, it’s important not to feel guilty about the time you spend away from your family. Instead, make sure the time you do spend with them is quality time. Make the time to read to them before bedtime. Play games, sports, or toys with your children. Teach them new skills, like how to prepare their favorite dish.
- Breathe. When you feel stressed, take a deep breath in. Breathing increases the oxygen that goes to your brain and creates a state of calmness. Intentionally taking deep breaths diverts your attention to your body and away from the situation causing you stress.
- Optimize your family’s time. Is there a way you and your family can plan to finish chores as early as possible so that everyone has more quality time together? Even if it might feel like the tasks never end, small changes can make big improvements. Ask for support. If you feel overwhelmed, turn to your partner, family, or a friend and ask for help. The help might be as simple as listening or taking care of the children for one afternoon. Think about the priorities in your life. If quality time with your children is most important to you, think about whether or not you actually treat it as a priority. Learn to identify things that are not actually urgent. Sometimes we create urgency in our minds. What things can be set aside for a later date?
- Exercise. Although it may feel difficult to integrate exercise into your busy schedule, physical activity can rejuvenate your body and mind. Even just being outdoors helps clear your thoughts. If you don’t know how to integrate exercise into your schedule, start by turning exercise into a family activity. Schedule daily walks with your family. Join your children at the park. Take your family to a Zumba or dance class. Pick up an active family activity like cycling or hiking.
- Identify your triggers. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think about what triggers different emotions. What annoys you? What makes you feel anxious? When do you notice yourself getting angry? Identifying your triggers is the first step to managing the way you react to these moments.
- Set boundaries. What are some recurring situations in life that unnecessarily stress you out? Think about things you need in order to be happy. Maybe you feel stressed because you receive work calls when you spend dinner with your family. Alternatively, maybe you notice you are not receiving enough time alone. Set boundaries with the people around you by communicating what you need.
The demands of parenthood are strong. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and as if you’re not doing enough – especially when you want to give everyone around you your world.
Taking the steps to manage your stress will help not just you, but also the ones around you. By being open with the people around you about how you feel and what you need, you will ultimately be able to give more.