As much as we hope for a stress-free life, there’s no avoiding the ‘downs’ that accompany the ‘ups’. We all have to deal with stress, from the everyday trials through to the more serious challenges we all face at some point in our lives. Stress in itself is a good thing; it’s a survival strategy that helps us respond to disaster and keeps us alive. It’s how we deal with it that counts.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, SKIP suggests trying one or more of the following:
- Take deep, slow breaths.
- Sometimes just accepting “I can’t do anything about it, it’s not my problem” is a relief.
- Be realistic. If you’ve got small children keeping the house really tidy is impossible. Set aside a time at the end of the day when you all put the toys away together.
- Exercise. Set yourself a goal – maybe walk three times a week or 15 minutes digging the garden.
- Set aside some time for yourself. Sit and read a book for 10 minutes, or phone a friend. Don’t spend all the time your children are asleep rushing around trying to do things.
- Join a Playgroup, Playcentre or Kohanga Reo. Find support by talking with other parents.
Try to set up routines so you don’t have all the chores piling up on top of each other. Be prepared to alter routines if something more fun comes up though! Set yourself small goals so you feel you’ve achieved something every day. For example, you could aim to throw out everything in the fridge that is past its use-by date. If you are asked to do something that will make you stressed, say no.
When it comes to coping with the major setbacks and bigger challenges, we need something experts call ‘resilience’. Resilience is one of those life skills we want our children to have so they can cope with disappointment; it’s like a suit of armour that will protect them in the years to come. We build resilience in our children by being consistently available to them, and by creating islands of quality time, such as playing finger games, pitching a tent on the lawn together or playing hide and seek. Parents sometimes worry that giving children extra attention, affection and comfort will result in them becoming ‘clingy’ but the opposite is true. The children who grow up to be secure, resilient adults often had the most responsive parents.
For helpful tips on coping with stress, visit SKIP
Brainwave Trust Aotearoa has many articles on stress and resilience including one of Stress: the good, the bad and the ugly