What does it really look like to “manage stress?” Parents and caregivers these days hear a lot about self-care as it relates to stress: everything from “practicing mindfulness” to “putting on their own oxygen mask first.” And while there is plenty of good advice out there, it can become overwhelming or sometimes feel impersonal and non-specific. After all, we don’t all feel stressed and overwhelmed by the same things, nor do we need to de-stress in the same ways.
What if you asked yourself one simple question instead: “What circumstances or conditions cause me the most stress?”
Here are a few examples?
- When everyone needs you at once
- Not making ends meet financially
- Trying to balance work, home, family, other obligations; feeling overcommitted and overextended
- Never having enough time or energy to get everything done
- Family crisis on top of the stress of everyday life
You might need to sit with this for a moment. You might even need to consider a more foundational question: “How do I act or feel when stressed?”
Here are a few examples:
- Snapping at those around you, particularly those within your family
- Feeling anxiety in your body
- Wanted to escape and go to sleep
- Control and becoming obsessive about things
- Feeling so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to begin
Let’s say that “trying to balance work, home, family, other obligations; feeling overcommitted and overextended” causes you the most ongoing stress. Perhaps you’ve noticed that when your mind and body remain in a state of feeling “amped up” because you have too much to do every single day, you snap at your children more or struggle to be respond to their needs in the way you want to.
What does it look like to do Basic #1: “Maximize Love, Manage Stress” in this situation? It could look like:
- Saying no to extra responsibilities or opportunities you don’t have to take, even if it’s just for a season
- Asking for help, even though it’s hard, just for a season
- Realizing that when you are in a season of having too much on your plate, you know your tendency will be to snap or be short-tempered. Even simple tools can help manage stress in the moment (counting to 10 before you respond or taking deep breaths.)
Life is hard. Providing loving care and meeting everyone’s needs, while managing your own stress, sometimes means asking yourself important questions and finding practical solutions. And if you need help finding those practical solutions, talk to a trusted friend or family member. Two heads are better than one! Answering this question looks different for everyone, which means there’s no “one size fits all” solution.
The number one thing you can do for their child isn’t finding the best school or providing for all their wants; it’s managing your own stress so that you can be responsive to their most important needs with love, kindness, and patience.
The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life.
Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:
- Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, “Maximize Love, Manage Stress” in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
- Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
- Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers! And we’ll post specific resources that can help you during the coronavirus pandemic.
- If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org.
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