Being under stress all the time is not good for your body or your mind. It can make you gain weight, make you forget things, or just raise your blood pressure. Here are some ways you can relax and reduce the stress in your life as a working parent:
Whether you are a parent working away from home or a parent that works at home, stress can apply in either situation. Many times we as parents get so focused on our work and things going on outside of the home that by the time we get home or sit down we are exhausted and have very little left for our families.
One way we can alleviate some of the stress from our lives and get the extra energy we need to actually have some family time is exercise. Yes, I understand that most of us think of exercise and we shun the idea because it seems like more work and more stress. But in actuality after you get started (and it may take a couple weeks to get the desired affects) you will actually find that you have more energy and feel much better.
I know this from experience because at one point I found myself dragging home from work and falling down on the bed or couch after supper and many nights I missed spending time with the family. The thing that got me started was one of my children. My boy was an active boy full of energy and always wanting to play. I wanted to be a part of his life. My daughter was content sitting beside us and reading or talking about the days events. My son needed to be doing something and he needed to channel his energy.
I was working a job at the time where I could get home a little earlier and it was summer and the days were longer. We made a point as a family after dinner to start taking bike rides to the local park or walking and along the way we would stop at the bayou. The bayou had minnows, tadpoles turning into frogs, and sometimes even snakes which were right up my son’s alley. My daughter also loved nature and wildlife so it was something she enjoyed as well. When we got to the park we would play on the equipment or jog on the track or play ball in the field. After a couple of weeks of doing this we all felt so much better and it was a wonderful way to spend time together and get much needed exercise as well.
After doing this for a few weeks we were much more energized and decided to take some short trips on the weekends to places of interest within a few hours of home. We found so many places to go that we had not even realized were there and the whole family had a great time. Bonding with your family is also a great way to relieve stress. Sometimes because we are tired we fight against doing anything with our families; we want to be left alone. Mostly because everyone has their own agenda and we end up being pulled in several directions. But when you are functioning as a family and bonding together doing exciting new things it takes this pressure off and energizes the family as a unit.
We also implemented family yard work. Instead of dad and mom getting out into the yard each week taking on the arduous task of mowing, edging, weeding, and blowing we made it a family event which cut the work in half and also gave us more time to spend with the kids. These tasks are not nearly as difficult if you do them as a team. Even the youngest can use the blower or rake a few leaves or perhaps pick up large sticks or pine cones from the yard before we mow. And if the children get finished first they can do an activity on the driveway or nearby so that we can actually be with them as they play. We found these things to be great stress relievers and it really strengthened our relationships with each other as well.
Playing games with the family can be a great stress reliever or watching a comedy together. Laughing is a great way to relieve stress and when you play together without a lot of heavy competition this usually includes laughter. We play a form of charades with the kids that require us to be in teams, one adult and one child or the children against the adults. We pick out a movie we have all seen or a book we have read and we act it out for the others to guess. Or we think of an animal that we try to get the others to guess. It can be really great for the children’s imaginations and it can really get hysterical sometimes. I found that instead of fighting my family for my down time if I join them in activities things are much less stressful.
There should be a bedtime set for your children that is well ahead of your bedtime so that you can have some time to do things with your spouse or things you want to do for yourself. This is also a great way to relax and get rid of the day’s stress. Taking a nice hot shower and then sitting down for a little one on one with your spouse is a great way to start to unwind. Watching your favorite television show or reading a good book to get settled down for a good nights sleep is essential. Sleep is another great stress reliever. Many times we try to cram so much into our days that sleep is on the back burner and this is a big cause for stress: bodily fatigue. We all need to get the proper amount of sleep or the smallest thing can make the day seem impossible.
Eating a balanced meal and watching the amount of junk food or alcoholic beverages we consume is another big factor that causes stress. Our bodies need the right balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fat to run efficiently along with proper exercise. When we consciously watch what we put into our bodies and not stress eat or not eat at all we will see recognizable changes in our stress levels. It may help to write down what we are eating for awhile and get nutritional book that shows if the foods we are eating are beneficial. Drinking a lot of water can also decrease our stress levels since our bodies are made primarily of water and so many times we go through entire days without drinking water. Carbonated drinks, coffee, and tea are not good substitutes for water and the caffeine is a big stress inducer. Even juices are not good substitutes because they are generally full of sugar.
So to sum up we as parents need to make sure we are doing some basic things in our lives to reduce our stress. Exercise is great; spending deliberate quality time with our families and not fighting for our time but consciously setting time aside for ourselves is imperative. Playing and laughing with our families and our friends will alleviate tons of stress as well and help us in bonding closer to our loved ones. Doing household chores as a family group can help everyone in the family to lessen the load and get much more accomplished. And finally getting the appropriate hours of sleep for your personal needs and eating balanced meals and drinking plenty of water can greatly cut down on stress.
By getting the entire family to implement these basic remedies into their daily and weekly routines you can substantially lower the stress level of the entire household. In doing that it will in turn reduce even more stress on your part and make the entire household a happier and more stress free environment.
Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.