One of the quickest ways to reduce stress is to learn how and when to say no! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to sit back and evaluate. What activities are taking up most of your time? What obligations have you committed yourself to that you now regret? There are some things that we sign our kids or ourselves up for that do nothing but add more stress to our lives. For example, overextending ourselves by volunteering for too many committees or activities (for ourselves and our children). Just say no to the sign-up sheet!
Next, try to schedule some time each day to do something that’s all about you! Whether it’s reading your favorite book, getting your nails done, or just sitting on your porch sipping your coffee, busy parents need time to unwind. It doesn’t have to be something that costs a lot of money or takes up all of your time, but it’s so important to keep your personal interests and hobbies active in your life.
In addition to making time for yourself, it’s equally important to make time for your spouse! If you have a partner in parenting then that relationship needs to be nurtured. Get a babysitter and schedule a date night, spend some time together at the beginning and end of each day talking, or invite the grandparents to babysit the kids overnight and get out of town! Whatever you can do to improve your parenting partnership will undoubtedly benefit your whole family in the long run.
Another sure fire way to reduce stress is to develop a strong social support system amongst your friends, extended family, co-workers, neighbors, and faith community. Despite being busy with our own children and families, sharing your life with others helps to minimize your stress level. Also, incorporate exercise into your daily routine and you’ll find yourself feeling more relaxed almost immediately! Take a walk around the block, go to a class at your local gym, or pop in a fitness DVD to work out at home, just get moving!
I’d be lying if I said my life was stress-free. But, I can assure you that when I do make an effort to reduce my stress, I am always a more relaxed and happier parent as a result. Give it a try, and let me know how it works for you!