10 Tips for Stressed Out Parents
By Juli Alvarado
We have learned about trauma.
We have learned about attachment.
We have learned about emotional regulation.
We have made all the appointments, met all the therapists, researched all the diagnosis, completed the mounds of paperwork, put our lives into a big fishbowl for others to review, run all the errands, made all the beds, started the laundry, dinner is on the stove, and the day is gone.
How did that happen? I thought I had planned well enough that I would have a couple of hours before the kids get home….and oh my, summer break is just around the corner.
I love my family, my children and my role in life.
And, I AM TIRED, stressed out and depleted at times.
Many parents have written to me over the years asking for ways to calm, work on their own stress and for suggestions for free or low cost means to feel better. I offer my response~
But, there is a catch.
I can share 10 tips for easy stress reduction; ways to help you get and stay more emotionally regulated and they will do you absolutely no good unless you practice them daily.
We have to intentionally take care of ourselves. Talking about it will not help. Doing it will.
What’s Breath got to do with it??
The emotional experience of stress triggers a chemical reaction in the brain. The chemical reaction impacts our physiological system. Now we have a brain/body reaction to stress.
The brain loses its ability for clear thinking, decision making and rational thought. We become impulsive, irrational and we do and say things that we soon regret.
The body becomes rigid, down to the cellular level we constrict under stress. Muscles tighten up, the jaw clenches, we often sweat as our heart rate increases and blood pumps more quickly under fire from the stress response system.
All of this happens for good reason! It primes us to respond to the stress~prepares us to take action through fight, flight or freeze against that which is threatening to us.
However, when we are pumped up, ready to fight, we simply add to that which has stressed us to begin with. A fight is not what we typically need in our day to day lives to bring the situation back to calm. Fighting against a person fighting just gets us more fighting! We make bad decisions, we add to the anger and tension and we suffer in our emotional and physical being.
Breathing, deep breathing is the connection between our body, mind and spirit. It is through deep breaths that we bring both our emotional, physical and spiritual being back into regulation. Stop right now, take 3 very deep breaths, exhaling slowing and intentionally. Allow your body to relax a bit as you do. You will understand clearly how powerful a simple breath is to our Peace and healing.
The brain learns through repetition, the more you do something the more natural it becomes. I started practicing deep breathing years ago, now I unconsciously stop and breathe to bring myself to regulation all through the day. My stress is extremely low, my impulsive, frustrated, intolerant reactions are almost non existent. I can function from a state of love and calm even in the midst of the storm, which I, like you, have daily.
Integrated into the 10 tips for stress reduction for parents is breathing, lots of breathing. I encourage you to pick 2 or 3 of my suggestions and begin to practice them daily. You will change. Your life will change. When you change for the better, so too, will your family change. Try it for 30 days, you will be glad you did!
10 Tips for Stressed Parents:
1. AWARENESS: unless you are aware of that which dysregulates, (stresses) you, you cannot create an environment opposite to that for your healing. We must first take a look inside and figure out what stresses us. Make a note of any stressful, current situations in your life. What is it about this situation that stresses you? Write it down. If there is something that you can do to change it, engage that change today. If there is not, you can always change you.
It is often our reaction to a situation that stresses us out as much as the situation itself. If your reaction is out of fear, anger or anxiety, choosing instead to stop before you react and taking 3 deep breaths, calms your mind and body. Your reaction is causing your stress response system to activate. We can calm the system instead of active the system simply through your breath.
2. EVERY HOUR: set your timer or alarm on your computer or phone to provide a soft, soothing reminder every hour of the day. When the alarm goes off, stop everything that you are doing, stand up, stretch your entire body for a full 60 seconds, take 3 very deep breaths and go back to work. You will feel better in one day. Guaranteed.
3. MEDITATION/PRAYER: every morning before your feet hit the floor, offer gratitude for another day, another chance, another breath. Thank God and the Universe for all that is provided you another day. Take three deep breaths to bring your mind/body/spirit into alignment before you hit the ground running. Stretch your body as much as you can when you first awaken. Your day will be better the very first day you begin this routine!
4. YOGA: if you cannot join a class, or purchase an inexpensive DVD yoga class to do in your own home, you can always find a yoga class on one of the health TV stations. Yoga helps you learn to control your breathing and increase heart rate variability. This helps the body to respond more flexibly to stress. Once a week is good, twice is better. Your body, your mind and your spirit will feel better in one week!
5. WALKING: a 15 minute brisk walk, two times a day increases the release of feel good chemicals into your brain and body. If it is cold out, walk inside. I sometimes will set my timer for 5 minutes and walk up and down the steps in my office 2-3 times a day to increase the cardio exercise. I follow that with three deep breaths and go back to work. Gets me feeling better every single time.
Any exercise rebalances melatonin which enhances sleep cycles and releases endorphins which enhances mood. Get up and move every day in some way.
6. SLEEP WELL AND REST DAILY: sleep deprivation keeps your nervous system on high-alert and your coritsol levels too high. This keeps you feeling anxious throughout the day. If you do not sleep well at night, rest during the day if you can, even for 30 minutest. This will bring your relaxation chemicals back to target.
7. SENSORY STIMULATION: your stress system is affected by sensory input; what you hear, taste, touch, smell and see. Are your surroundings calm, soothing, tranquil and content? If not, what can you do to change that, now? I listen to very soothing music with no words while I work. I light candles with light scent, and I use lamps with soft lighting. I create a sensory experience that draws me in with comfort.
8. TIME OUT: not for your kids, but for you if needed! If you are at the point of blowing, you have permission to give yourself a time out. Let your children or loved ones know that you will be back, that you just need to walk away for a few minutes. That is must less damaging than what may slip out if you stay!
9. TRIPLE A’s: affection, attention and attunement. Your kids need this everyday, but so do you. Create relationships that are full of affection, that provide you with the attention you need, and that are attuned to your needs and wants. The more of these you get, the more you can share! Cultivate the friendships you long for; coffee with a good friend is more helpful than most therapy sessions!
10. STOP, DROP and ROLL: when all else fails and the stress returns,
Stop: completely stop, stop talking, moving and reacting
Drop: drop into deep breaths, slowly inhale and exhale focusing only on breath
Roll: roll back into relationship only after you have calmed your mind and body
This provides a calm platform for both you and the other person to come back into safety. If the other person is still upset, work to remain slow in your movements and low in your tone of voice. This will help you remain calm and bring the other person down with you.
If you are in need of a personal coach, someone to help you, listen to you and direct you as a coach would do, please visit us at www.coaching-forlife.com
We have wonderful parent coaches, many free resources and links for articles, research and further information supporting you toward a more peaceful life!
Please reach out, if you need support, ask someone. You are not alone.
And remember, breathe~
Founder/Sr. Clinical Consultant
coaching for LIFE!
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