Sometimes, families feel the stress of everyday life building and building. Parents, you’re working a lot; you’re trying to find the time to spend with your children and spouse. Children and teens, you’ve got responsibilities too and at the same time you might be feeling your needs for attention, love, and care from your parents. When emotional needs are being met and when the demands of everyday life are weighing on the family mood, it might be necessary to take a break from everything. It could be time to lighten the family stress and try out the following suggestions.
- Laugh Together: Use humor, if you can, to shift your reaction to stress from anger to absurdity. Search for something that gets the funny bone moving among everyone in the family. Laughter can actually boost the immune system, and create immediate physiological changes that shift perception and your view on the situation. Everyone in the family might have a family talk and discuss their responsibilities in a lighthearted way. When discussing work and school life, parents and children might look for what is practical or inspiring. For instance, doing well will keep your grades up, boost your chances of getting into college, keep you on the swim team, and help you reach your professional goals. Parents, work helps keep food on the table, a roof over the family, and vacations to spend time together. See if you can find the sunny side to your circumstances.
- Remove the Stressful Circumstance Altogether: At the same time, in your discussion, another alternative is to see if some of those responsibilities can be let go of. If you’re each feeling the demands of school, the pressure of a work, the responsibilities at home, pressure from your peers, the obligations of extracurricular activities, and the inner pressure and emotional turmoil, look for a way to reduce the level of your responsibilities. Perhaps parents, you can let go of volunteering on the weekend, and children you can take fewer classes this year to find more time to work with a therapist, for example. Everyone in the family can find the time to tend to the emotional life. You might be able to temporarily limit your participation in extracurricular activities, such as your attendance to the Diversity Club. Whatever the stressful situation, remove it altogether if it continues to add unnecessary pressure.
- Ignore the Stress: As a family unit, do this only if it is appropriate, not as a means to escape from problems. For example, if someone in the family has a health concern, which is being adequately and properly taken care of, focusing on it might only bring more anxiety. Instead, putting your attention on family activities together, your relationships, and responsibilities that bring meaning and fulfillment could be more useful.
- Relaxing the Mind and Body: Relaxation can create a psychological state that can invite solutions you might not have otherwise thought of. When the mind and body are relaxed, your inner resources are more easily accessible. In this state, you might see your situation differently. An answer to your problem might come forward or an insight might arise that allows you to see a stressful situation differently. As a family, you might participate in a relaxation technique together, and you might even do this on a regular basis. Finding ways to relax together can create experience of peace, enjoyment, and connection that might be otherwise hard to experience as a family.
- Rely on Your Spirituality: A belief in a higher power can be a great comfort when stressed, especially when a spiritual experience is shared among family members. In whatever way that feels comfortable, reaching out to a higher power can provide a sense of relief and consolation.
- Seek Alternative Forms of Healing: Meditation, yoga, acupuncture, conscious breathing, and other forms of alternative stress relief might not be the answer you think of right away. However, they are increasing in popularity. The most recent edition of Times Magazine highlights alternative forms of healing as a revolution sweeping the country. It’s true that they are becoming more popular. Perhaps meditation or yoga will find its way into your life and become a stress relieving tool.
When stress is high among family members, take some time to relax and enjoy the fact that life is great, especially when you’re together.