Caring for Yourself when Life Is Stressful
Sometimes a lot comes at you at the same time. These times can be very overwhelming, and make it difficult to parent well in addition to all of your other responsibilities. So how do you care for yourself when you feel even more squeezed for time?
Breathe. Breathe slowly. Remind yourself that everything will turn out okay—even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Cut back on activity during the stressful time. If you have a sick parent, cut back on your volunteering or let the dishes pile up a bit in the sink.
Turn to people who care about you. The more support you can find, the better you’ll cope.1
Be honest about the stress with your kids (without stressing them out). Kids act out under stress, but if they know that you’re dealing with the stress positively, you can work together rather than butt heads.
Develop a sense of humor. Finding irony and comedy during stressful times can make it easier for you to cope.
Take time to eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, and whatever else you need to do to keep stress from taking its toll on your body.
Get more ideas on how to manage stress as a parent in Stress Management for Parents from the Child Development Institute.
When you’re really stressed, it can be even more difficult to set aside time for yourself. But these are the times when it’s most important to take care of yourself. To be the best parent you can, make sure that you’re monitoring your stress level and taking breaks when you need them.
1. Sherrilyn Coffman, Mary Levitt, Carol Deets, and Kathryn Quigley, “Close Relationships in Mothers of Distressed and Normal Newborns: Support, Expectancy Confirmation, and Maternal Well-Being,” Journal of Family Psychology 5, no. 1 (1991): 93-107.