Strategies to cope with family stress

Coping strategies to guide you and your family when dealing with everyday stress and crisis situations.

Stress is normal and unavoidable. We encounter stress in a variety of different situations, forms and amounts, and stress can mean different things to different people. Stress can come from ordinary events like heavy traffic or a long line at the store, or it can be a result of a crisis event; like the loss of a job or a death in the family. 

There is not a single perfect way to survive the stressful events in your life. It is more of a process of figuring out what works best for you at a particular point in time. 

Here are some tips to for reducing stress. See works best for you and your family:

  • Take time for yourself. Take time to do something that is meaningful, relaxing and enjoyable to you. Read a book, sit on the porch and enjoy the scenery, go out with your friends for coffee. 
  • Practice deep breathing or mindfulness. When you start feeling yourself get anxious and extremely stressed, step back and do a three-minute mindful breathing exercise. This will quiet your mind and help you relax.
  • Do some physical activity. Take a walk around the house or neighborhood. 
  • Get enough sleep. Research by the Sleep Foundation has shown when individuals get at least eight hours of sleep, they are less stressed, less sad and manage anger better.
  • Reflect on your emotions and feelings. It is ok to feel sad, uncomfortable, angry, or stressed. Noticing these emotions can help us to be compassionate towards ourselves. 
  • Develop and/or useyour support system. Your support system consists of the people who may or can fill different roles in your life. For example, your neighbor may be able to assist with childcare or a friend may be a great listener. Use your support system to talk about your feelings and help you cope.
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Make an effort to interact and be around people who provide support and encouragement for you and your family.
  • Use and develop your sense of humor. Humor and laughter are great stress relievers and promote wellbeing. 
  • Focus on your health and the health of others in your family. Often during stressful times, individuals will turn to alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism. Be thoughtful of your eating and drinking habits. It is extremely important to eat healthy and to exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Get professional help. If anyone is feeling overwhelmed, seek assistance from an outside source such as a mental health professional.

For more information and programs on stress and anger management, please visit Michigan State University ExtensionMSU Extension offers a variety of educational programs throughout the state. To find a program near you, contact your local county office for more information.

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