Taking care of you - the parent

Parenting can be a huge stressor. Replace your stress with calm.

Have you ever had a day when everything went wrong? Days like those make it hard to be patient, caring and loving. It can be difficult to parent effectively when you are a tired, frustrated and angry person. Stressful days are inevitable and normal, but learning to manage the stress is possible.

One of the first steps to managing stress is to recognize what causes you the most stress. Take a few minutes to make a list of as many things you can come up with that cause you to feel stress. This list might include factors like lack of money, lack of time, whining and nagging as examples. By creating a list, you will be more aware of what triggers your stress.

When stress builds up, it can result in anger, headaches, discouragement, depression, stomach-aches, fatigue and other “no-good” feelings. The next step in managing stress is to think about how your stress affects you.  Think about some of your behaviors and feelings when you feel stress. If one of the feelings you have is helplessness, be especially aware of what you do. Often this feeling becomes so overwhelming that problem solving seems impossible and we stop trying.

So what can you do to deal with the big stresses in your life? There are many things you can do that can help you manage stress in a positive way. Make another list, but this time think about the things you truly enjoy doing and write them down. My next question to you is “how often do you take the time to do these things?” If you are not doing them often, start making the time to do them now! Filling your life with things you love to do and are passionate about is the first step towards managing stress effectively. This will vary from person to person, so take the time to find what works best for you.

A big suggestion for dealing with stress is to recognize that you are not able to “fix” everything at once. Another might be to drop the stressors you cannot change or don’t have control over and tackle the ones you can and do. Replace stressful thoughts with pleasant ones. Think about what positive things you do have instead of what is not going well or what you don’t have. 

Lastly be sure you are taking care yourself. Are you eating healthy, exercising frequently and relaxing regularly? Make time in your schedule to keep yourself healthy. In order to be the best parent you can be, you need to take care of yourself!

When stress is not managed well, it can often turn into an anger issue. Michigan State University Extension offers a program called RELAX: Alternatives to Anger that will give you more strategies to manage stress and anger in a constructive way. Start taking care of you - the parent, today!

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