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Being a stressed parent –
doesn’t automatically mean you will have a stressed child, however there are occasions when we know our own stress certainly does impact on those around us, so it is a good thing to be more aware of what is causing it and how to deal with it.
Stress can be a trigger for conditions like poor sleep, acne, irritability, reduced cognitive ability through to heart attacks, anxiety, depression and potentially suicide, so it is to be taken seriously. Therefore, as April is National Stress Awareness month, it is a good time to look at a few ways we can reduce stress in our lives and generally be happier.
Personal Life Maxim
Adopting a personal philosophy or a life maxim which really rings true to you can be a good start. We can all read motivational books, or go on courses, but if those words generally wash over you what good are they going to do?
I believe having a positive attitude to life in general is a great start, and l hold a strong belief that it genuinely doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. It is how many times you get back up which matters. I read an Einstein quote earlier today about the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting the same result. How true!
So, step one really ought to be taking your own personal decision to make a change in your own life. If you want a different result, it will require doing something different. Being in control of your life may sound like a simple thing, but so many of us are on autopilot we aren’t even thinking about what is making us unhappy. Forcing ourselves to step off our daily treadmill, take a break and look at our lives can be a really powerful first step.
Below, I list a few simple, proven, ways to reduce stress in our lives, become happier and enjoy being parents.
Even if you feel miserable, putting your face in the shape of a smile, or looking at images of smiling people can influence brain activity and lower levels of depression and anxiety. I’m not suggesting you walk about grinning like an idiot, but genuinely smiling and making eye contact can have a double effect. It can make you feel better simply because you are smiling, plus you may feel better about yourself as you will notice others are smiling back at you.
Giving and Helping Others
So that leads onto Helping others, even if it is only a smile – it is still giving and it is always nice to receive. I will always remember walking onto a crowded underground train in London many years ago, l was feeling stressed and nervous about a big meeting and my business was fairly new. A beautifully smart woman got onto the train, looked straight at me and smiled. I felt happy, relaxed and empowered by the generosity of that stranger’s lovely smile.
Do you think it is odd l can remember that over 10 years later and can anyone else remember such an event in their lives?
Giving people your time, when you are feeling stressed can help if you are able to do it in a mindful and focused way. We all know how frustrating it is when people aren’t listening to us, and are just ‘going through the motions’. So, what l mean by being mindful is thinking about what is happening in that moment and not thinking about everything else on your ‘to do’ list! If you are able to give your time like that it will also make you feel really buoyant too.
This is a personal one as some people say they just can’t do it. I use an App called insight timer which has thousands of free meditations, music and talks. I find it superb for guided meditations.
Depending on your age and fitness levels this can vary but getting out into nature can be so relaxing. Maybe try a ‘mindful’ walk where you walk in silence for 15 minutes and simply notice everything around you. The colours, the smells, the scenery, the leaves and flowers, birds etc… It is amazing how much we ignore when our minds are stressed and full.
Using this as a parent
Doing a mindful walk with children can be a wonderfully engaging activity and something they will treasure. Children are very quick to notice when your mind is focused on the same thing as them. After a short silent moment, you can then discuss everything you are seeing and hearing. Maybe you can get some books and start to learn new things too. The fresh air will help tire the children out, so a more relaxed family will hopefully have a better night’s sleep too.
Relaxing and noticing the difference
I often did these types of activities at home when the boys were little. When l got home l’d lay their Snuggle Sacs on the sofa or floor, give them a snack and some books, and leave them to it while l got some other bits and pieces done. Once l had spent some focused time with them l noticed they were respectful of the other things l needed to get done, and we were all less stressed.
Therefore, l guess l’ve answered my own question. We can affect ourselves and our children in a positive way if we are less stressed!