Kids stress when we stress. They act out, withdraw, have sleep issues, even their appetite and overall affect may change. Compound the daily grind with this season’s stressors, and the whole family’s got a manic Christmas and a hectic New Year. But the holidays don’t have to get the best of you, not when you take control of your own stress management — for the kids . . . for yourself.
Stress Management Tips for Parents
Get more sleep. More sleep improves the immune system, brain function, and overall ability to manage daily stress. Stress is a normal part of daily life, but if you don’t get enough sleep, your perception of it and reaction to it can become abnormal.
Take regular breaks. Not only are brief breaks a great stress management tool, but taking the time to step away from tasks gives your mind a chance to refresh and work more efficiently, thereby saving time in the long run.
Don’t be a people pleaser. Accept that it’s OK to say “no” and that you don’t have to explain yourself all the time. Not everyone will like it. Oh well! They’ll get over it, and you’ll be healthier and more relaxed because of it.
Practice deep breathing. Every day, every time you feel anxious, upset, stressed out, or to lull yourself to sleep, take slow, deep breaths until you feel yourself calming down. It’s easy and it works. The hardest part is remembering to stop and breathe before getting worked up.
Do not skip meals. You know when the kids start getting cranky between meals? Adults do it, too. A friend of mine calls it being “hangry.” Guess how she introduced me to that term? If you’re like me, you get so busy taking care of everybody else that you forget to EAT. It is rather silly, isn’t it? Set an alarm if you have to. Eating regular meals cuts down on unnecessary stress (or “hanger”).
Drink more water regularly throughout the day. This relates to the previous tip.
Commit to health-smart me-time. You’re a parent, so in case you’re too busy to keep up with consistent me-time AND exercise (and that sleep we were talking about), try to come up with an activity you personally enjoy that also involves exercise. If you genuinely love it, then you’re more likely to do it regularly and stick to it. If you love dancing, for instance, then that’s a great way to socialize, get your me-time, and get that stress-busting, health-smart exercise in. Win-win!
Keep it in perspective. Treat things today as you would a month from now. If today you’re yelling at something you would laugh at a month from now, maybe save yourself the frustration and laugh today.
Look for the positive in EVERY situation. This takes some practice, I’ll admit, but when it comes down to it, the way we handle the natural flow of stress is mostly about our attitude. Some of us are not born with eternal sunshine minds, so we have to train our brains to focus on the positive over the negative.
For example, you’re stuck in traffic on your way to work. You can sit there and stress out, or you can sit there and accept the situation is out of your control and be grateful you have a car and a job to go to and your favorite song is playing. It’s your choice. You always have a choice. Which choice do you think leads to a better day, a better string of choices and consequences, and eventually a better life for you and the kids?
In the event the kids themselves are a major source of stress with grand holiday demands, you’ll want to check out Tips for Teaching Kids Gratitude. Stress management tips for parents and gratitude tips for children . . . they all come in handy at some point and can be applied year after year.
Take it easy and HAPPY Holidays!