As our culture continues to face high levels of stress, families are susceptible to mounting pressures from finances and work. Raising a family can be rewarding and demanding even in healthy social and economic climates, so stressful times can make things much more challenging.
Parents who cope with stress in healthy ways cannot only promote better adjustment and happiness for themselves, but also promote the formation of critically important habits and skills in children. By taking small, manageable steps to a healthier lifestyle, families can work toward meeting their goals to be psychologically and physically fit.
Here are some suggested stress management tips to help you get started:
Model a healthier lifestyle. As a parent, it’s important to model healthy behaviors for your children. Children are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle and less likely to associate stress with unhealthy behaviors if the whole family practices healthy living and good stress management techniques. So, ask yourself ― how do I respond to stress? In what ways could my stress coping skills be improved?
Have a conversation with your child. If you notice that your children are looking worried or stressed, ask them what’s on their minds. Having regular conversations can help a family work together to better understand and address any stressors children are experiencing.
Create a healthy environment. Your home, workspace, and even social environment can influence your behaviors. For example, cleaning up a cluttered home space can help because it’s something you and your children can control, and it teaches children to focus on those things they can control when feeling stressed.
Focus on solutions rather than problems. It would be a good idea, in fact, a very good idea to teach your children to focus on solutions to their problems and challenges, rather than simply complaining about problems. As soon as we switch our mindset from problems to solutions, we immediately feel better and less stressed.
Live in the Moment. Another great habit to share with your kids is to show them how to live in the moment. Most people spend their time regretting the past, or worrying about the future. A waste of time! Past and future are not real. The past is only memories and the future nothing but speculation. Living in the moment means finding interest and gratitude for what’s going on NOW. This is what opens the door to solutions, the solutions often come in the form of intuition.
Focus on yourself. The correlation between health, obesity and unhealthy choices is strong. When you and your family are experiencing stress, make sure to get adequate doses of nutrients, physical activity, and sleep. Research shows that children who are sleep-deficient are more likely to have behavioral problems. A healthy dinner followed by an activity with your family, such as walking, bike riding, playing catch or a board game, and topped off with a good night’s sleep can do a lot to manage or to lessen the negative effects of stress. Meditation is another excellent technique for managing stress.
Changing behaviors usually takes time. By starting with changing one behavior, you and your family are more likely to experience success, which can then encourage your family to tackle other challenges and to continue making additional healthy changes.