10 Ways to Reduce Family Stress
As the new school year begins and your family settles into the routines for the school year, we encourage you to consider how stress is impacting your family. Do your own stressors trickle down to have a negative impact on the rest of your family? Do your children’s stressors trickle up to you?
The newest and most powerful stressor in life is the information age. The explosion of information and our access to it is overwhelming. Distributed in real time, this constant, seemingly uncontrollable bombardment of communication, information, education, and sensationalism has arrived, and our heads are spinning. Most of us never saw it coming, and it has changed our lives in good ways and bad. It requires us to examine ways to turn it down, turn it off and buffer ourselves and our children from it. It has compounded our stressors and is taking a heavy toll on our physical, mental and spiritual health, as well as the health of families and relationships.
Interested in stopping the madness? Here are 10 ways to help yourself and your family to reduce the stress:
Create technology free zones. Create family times together that are technology free – no cell phones, tablets, or television. Promote eye to eye contact, heart to heart communication, and quieter moments. This also reduces drama and control issues by helping children see that not everything is an emergency, not everyone has the right to demand your time anytime they wish, and not every text or post requires an immediate response.
Create “white space” on your kids and your calendars. We need more peace and quiet and rest in this hectic, crazy world. This is unassigned time without commitments, appointments, duties, or work. This space is reserved for renewal of the mind and heart. It is intended to be reserved for thankfulness, quiet time, meditation, stretching, being in nature, loving on pets, coloring, painting or doing things that are relaxing and peaceful. Teach your children the value of silence, stillness, appreciation and thanksgiving.
Get outdoors for exercise, restoration and fun. Walk, ride bikes, sit on the porch together. Walk the dog or wash the car. Work together as a family in the yard or plant a garden. Take off your shoes and stand in the grass, feeling the earth beneath your feet. This is called “grounding” and it helps your body to resonate and re-calibrate to the fundamental frequencies of the earth that your body requires for health and healing. Allow the sun to warm your skin for 15 minutes, allowing your body to get the best form of Vitamin D for a strong immune and better health.
Cook together. Let’s face it. Fast food is not helping our stress or our health. Every child needs to know how to cook and prepare a basic meal as a core life skill. Eating at home can save time and money and can be an enjoyable time to learn together. Get everyone involved, share the duties, take turns, allow creativity and include the children in choices of new vegetables, recipes and foods to try.
Encourage, teach, and promote healthy sleep patterns. Establish and maintain bedtimes and wind-down times when phone calls and texting need to stop, television must be turned off, and preparations for a restful night of sleep should begin. If possible, turn off the household wi-fi to promote better sleep. Establish age appropriate routines and curfews to teach self-care and responsibility. Make the end of every day a time for hugs, reflection, words of encouragement, expressions of love and thankfulness.
Don’t be afraid to get help when needed. Recognize that events resulting in grief, anger, anxiety or sadness need healthy resolution for all of us. Parents and children alike need someone they can trust to express their feelings to reach healthy resolution of traumatic events, difficult seasons or concerning behavior patterns. Seek out support groups, on-line forums, and professionals or techniques such as journaling and Emotional Freedom Techniques (tapping) to deal with emotions in a healthy way. Remember that unresolved emotional issues can and do manifest in physical ill-health.
Make One Better Food Choice – Getting healthier can seem overwhelming and stressful itself. Often, small steps generate better long term results. Virtually everyone can benefit from improvements in the diet. There are plenty of reasons to get healthier and stay healthier. Illness derails plans, reduces income potential, and makes us our worst self. Sugar and food allergies are highly correlated with inflammation, congestion, weight gain, fatigue, body pain, digestive issues, brain fog and frankly, addiction and disease. Lack of vegetables in the diet leaves us all constipated, nutritionally bankrupt and stressed out. Simple changes in diet can make a huge difference in everyone’s relationships, productivity and happiness. Do something… one more vegetable, one less soft drink, no more fast food, dump the cereal, avoid the gluten, increase healthy fats….Make at least one better choice this year.
Everyone needs Friend Time. No one prospers in isolation. We need laughter and encouragement. We need to know someone else understands us. We flourish when we can help and be helped by others. Spending time with our friends in person, not via text or Facebook, is healing and restorative.
Practice Nose Breathing. A recent article by Dr. Mercola discussed the Buteyko method of breathing for relaxation which is in contrast to the concept of deep breathing. It promotes a slow and light breathing through the nose to promote calm, improve oxygenation and reduce stress. It is a great way to help your kids stop wiggling or to prevent your own anxious moment.
Laughter is still great medicine. Increase the frequency of moments of getting into a deep, side splitting laugh. It’s contagious too! Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormone levels, works out your abs, releases endorphins, and boosts your immune system. So go rent a hilarious movie, read the funnies, listen to a good comedian, or tickle each other silly. Laughter is a great stress reducer.