Many health experts state that chronic stress is a huge contributor to illness and disease. Living stressed to the max over a long period of time wears your body down and as a parent can affect your relationship with your children and/or spouse. It’s beneficial to learn valuable stress reduction techniques in order to combat stress in health ways. You will feel better, happier, and more relaxed if you take time to invest in minimizing or alleviating stress consistently.
Here are some of the top stress reduction techniques that you can incorporate into your life beginning immediately.
- Give up control. The reality of life is that you can’t control everything. Some things just aren’t going to go your way or turn out the way you think they should. If you can learn to relinquish control or base your mood on outcomes, you’ll live less stressed and more peaceful. Sometimes the hours get cut, your preschooler bites his teacher and draws blood, the car breaks down, and the husband doesn’t get the promotion. Surrender the idea that life goes as planned because sometimes it doesn’t and that’s alright. All stress is a conflict between belief and reality. To avoid stress you need to deliberately make a mental adjustment to the reality of the unwanted event and keep it moving.
- Learn the value of optimism. Now that you understand that sometimes things don’t go as planned and bumps are encountered on your journey, decide now to face tough situations with an optimistic attitude.The Mind TRACK to Happiness Process created by the Parental Stress Centre will help you to keep moving in a mental direction that is aligned with happiness. How you think will always determine your emotions and your behaviour. It will be responsible for whether you react angrily to your biting preschooler or gentle, yet stern with concern.
We have a tendency to allow negative thoughts to dominate the mind in many situations, so it’s vital that you retrain your brain to think positive thoughts and look for the silver lining in each situation you encounter. Lessons can be learned in the most unfortunate situations and growth oftentimes requires a measure of pain. Learn to find the hidden good in the bad.
- Deep breathing/meditation. Deep breathing can reduce stress significantly. In fact, meditation is a great tool for keeping anxious thoughts and stress at bay. When you’re feeling anxious, sit down, close your eyes, and take a few deep, long breaths. Exhale slowly and envision stress and negative emotions flowing out of you. Let go of it and relax your entire body. If you engage in deep breathing or meditation for just a few minutes a day, you’ll begin to notice your stress level decreasing. If you can spend at least 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening doing such, you’ll be amazed at the results!What is happening when you are doing this deep breathing is training your brain to come back to the present moment. Worrying about the future or thinking about the past is what causes us to feel stressed. Putting your attention on the present moment stops you from past or future thinking.
- Exercise regularly. Have you ever gone for a walk or engaged in some sort of physical activity and simply felt wonderful afterward? Exercise does you a world of good. As you exercise you not only decrease stress, but your muscles (including your heart) get a workout and endorphins are released which cause you to feel happier. Do your best to engage in some form of exercise 3 to 4 times a week for a less stressed and healthier life.
- Take up journaling. Plenty of people find it relaxing to sit and write down feelings or tidbits about their lives, dreams, and so on. If you don’t want to use pen and paper, consider journaling on the computer. Sometimes getting your negative feelings out onto paper reduces pent up negative energy you’ve been carrying around. It can be very therapeutic.However, here is a word of caution. Journaling ceases to be helpful when you continue to roll around in the same story over and over again. How we perceive life causes stress and over time negative thinking may have become your dominant view of life. Continuing to tell yourself the same negative story literally strengthens neural connections in the brain. Sometimes journaling and reliving your story over and over again will only contribute to further strengthening these connections and confirming your viewpoint, making you feel even worse about yourself.
However, if you use journaling as a way of observing your mindset and learning from your problems, this will be a much better way to utilise this tool. Our BE the Change video program teaches you more about how to journal from the perspective of changing the thinking that causes stress, depression and anxiety.
- Plan vacations. Life can get so busy with work and parenting. Make the effort to plan for mini vacations and longer vacations yearly. Plan one, two, three, or as many as you’d like and can afford. Going on holiday and relaxing for a short time can really refresh you and your entire family. Spend that quality time together that so often gets neglected with the hustle and bustle of life.
- Create a NOT-TO-DO list. Stress oftentimes comes because people have too much to do. They start to feel overwhelmed with it all. There are some things that you’re doing that you probably don’t really need to do. Make a NOT-TO-DO list and stop doing what you don’t need to or delegate the task to someone else. Hire a house cleaner. Cut down on television or internet surfing. Stop dragging little Jimmy to soccer knowing that he hates it.
Take charge of your time and use it wisely.Time management is not about time it’s about priorities. Learn about how why you are so time poor and how to change how you think about your time with our A Parent’s Guide to Balance and getting more YOU time book or our Give Me Back My Time Program.
It is possible to relieve some stress with some wisdom and effort. I hope these tips will help you to live a more peaceful and fulfilling life- free from unnecessary stress.