Does any of this sound familiar? The alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m., you get up, get the kids up and ready for school, lunches prepared, throw in a load of laundry, off to work for 8 hours, pick the kids up, take them to practices, back home, prepare dinner, help with homework, get the kids ready for bed, straighten up the house…..and finally you sit down near to 11 p.m. or so and you think….”I have to do this all over again tomorrow!”
Whew! Talk about stress! Although, for men and women alike, we knowingly sign up for all that comes along with the day-to-day lives of our children, our bosses, running our own businesses, our spouses and our family lives in general. Unfortunately, we don’t always fully get the big picture of what it actually does to our mental, emotional and physical well-being when we don’t allow ourselves to be balanced in same. At times, we feel like our lives are on high speed fast-forward but because we are so stressed out, we emotionally feel like we are swimming through it in slow-motion and it becomes extremely overwhelming. For me, at times, I feel like I am swimming in a sea of responsibilities that I just have to admit I can’t handle all at once. It’s during these crucial times that we all forget to take care of the most important person and that is ourselves!
We all know that raising a family can be rewarding and demanding during normal times in our lives, but throw in the mix some emotional stress due to circumstances beyond our control (i.e., the economy, job loss, a new baby, etc.) and the situation can turn ugly really quickly. According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 73 percent of parents report family responsbilities as a significant source of stress. Think about those statistics. If 73 percent of us are stressed, I can imagine some of our stress eventually trickles down to the little people we are doing all of this for and that is our children. Let’s go even further TMF Readers, as I always preach, children live what they learn. If your children see you as constantly worried and full of anxiety, they will think that type of behavior is normal and will follow in that same direction. If your children experience constant chaos in your life then they will gravitate toward constant chaos in their own. It’s not that they make the conscientious decision to do so, it is just that they will model what they have been taught, including how to effectively or non-effectively handle their stress as adults. Changing your behaviors in order to incorporate a healthy changes into your life will be a tough task for sure but an absolute necessary one; not just for your own health, but for that of your children as well.
Here are a few tips that go a long way in helping you make lasting changes:
- Renegotiate your priorities. If you exhibit a balanced lifestyle, your children will as well. Evaluate what you need to cut back on in your life whether that be for a while or permanently. For example, does your child participate in more than one extra-curricular activity? Are you finding yourself running around town for 3 hours after work from place to place? Set a limit, especially if you have more than one child. Do you work from home while at the same time taking care of the children and find that you are putting too many projects on your plate at one time? Set a limit and start eliminating what causes you stress.
- Find your own space. Altering your environment can help you to be more comfortable and will allow you to give you a space that is all yours. I don’t care if its a corner in your bedroom or in your basement. Make it your own and your “peace zone.” Some might be surprised by this, but my car is my peace zone. I go to my car on my lunch breaks, frequently on the weekend, I might take a drive with the radio off so I can hear myself think. I live in a house with 3 boys and a husband. No further explanation needed.
- Focus on yourself. There is a direct correlation between stress and our physical health. Recognizing this is key. Once recognized, take steps to focus on taking care of yourself. Get enough sleep. I have been told by every doctor I have ever come across that sleep is our body’s natural way of healing itself. Take time to relax and to focus on what makes you happy. Turn to hobby that brings you joy and doesn’t make you feel like you are doing a job. Hobbies are wonderful ways to escape.
- Talk with your children about stress. Listen actively to your children. When they are confiding in you, stop what ever you are doing and listen. Help them to deal with feelings and emotions that revolve around stress in order to help them find a solution.
- Set realistic short term goals. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to fix everything at once. Be realistic in your changes. Understand that changes don’t take place overnight and that we don’t want “quick-fixes,” we want long-term success so taking your time and taking it one step at a time is the answer.
- Manage yourself. As I say to some of my clients, don’t take the easy way out. Truly look at yourself and the situation and be able to identify when you need extra help. Not effectively managing yourself, your physical needs, your reactions to situations, etc. is counterproductive to balance. Consider exercising more, getting more sleep (as discussed above), think things through thoroughly before committing yourself to a project or activity. Realize that you do not need to be all and do all for everyone else all of the time, especially because you don’t want to say “no.” Sometimes, the most healthy thing you can do for yourself is say NO, with kindness of course.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives. Accept that it is okay to call on your spouse, on a friend or on family to help you. This is the only way you can improve your ability to stay strong. Secondly, there is also nothing wrong with talking to a professional about it as well. We don’t have all the answers all of the time.
TMF Readers, remember, our children watch us. Most often, they will also follow our lead in how we deal with stress, anger and even how we solve our problems. Through our examples, we can give them strategies and life lessons by modeling behaviors that are realistic, attainable, positive and healthy.
In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, remember, our lives aren’t perfect and we are not going to be perfect either. We can set all of the expectations of ourselves that we want but at the end of the day, if we don’t find balance and aren’t able to put everything in its proper prospective and make time for what’s really important, we are only doing ourselves a huge disservice both emotionally, mentally and physically. At this point, we are no good to anyone and especially not to our spouses or the little ones in our lives that are most important to us.
Peace & Blessings,