Life comes with many stresses: working, paying bills, staying healthy, and making sure your kids are safe and happy are just a few of the things you have to worry about on a daily basis. It can be difficult to know the best ways to cope with those feelings without taking them out on your children, especially when it’s been a long day and everyone is tired; however, it’s imperative to learn healthy coping methods to keep from having emotional outbursts directed at your little ones, which can give them their own anxiety or cause them to lash out at others in return. If you’ve ever found yourself yelling over something like a spilled cup of juice, you can probably benefit from a break so that you can step back, look at the issues at hand, and make some changes.
Fortunately, it’s a cycle that can be prevented if you have a good plan. Taking good care of yourself is one of the best ways to start, and that includes being careful about substances. Abusing drugs or alcohol in order to cope with stress is an easy path to go down, but it can be a dangerous one that leaves you feeling worse than before. It’s important to find healthier ways to deal with your feelings, in part so that you can lead by example for your children.
Here are the best ways to get started.
Self-care involves many different things, and it’s different for everyone. Some people feel they get more out of exercising everyday than they do relaxing, so if that makes you happy and more energized, go for it! Or, you might find that making time for yourself to sit with a good book or have a long lunch with friends makes you feel good. Think about the activities that will help you feel relaxed in a healthy way, and try to do at least one a day in order to reduce stress.
This will also keep you from turning to substances for relief, because when we let the stress pile up, it can be harder and harder to find positive ways to cope. Keep in mind that drugs and alcohol are only a temporary relief, and that your problems will still be there after the effects wear off. Learning how to cope in the moment will help you figure out a solution that really works.
Think About the Big Picture
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and forget to look at what’s truly important. When work has you stressed and the bills are piling up, it’s often difficult to take a breath and remember that it’s just a season; everything will pass, but your family will be yours forever. Make it a point to think about all the good things in your life, and talk about them over dinner with your loved ones. Have everyone say one thing they’re grateful for. Not only will it help you see the positive side, it will allow your children to take a step back and look at the big picture, as well.
Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To
Getting caught up in the monotony of work and responsibilities can make life seem like one long, never-ending job. Having something to look forward to can ease those feelings and help you look to the future with hope, so plan out a family vacation for the summer, or just a short road trip for yourself and a friend. You can also promise yourself a treat, which can be as big as buying a new piece of furniture or as small as enjoying an ice cream sundae at the end of a long day. It doesn’t have to be something expensive; just knowing that you have something you really want waiting for you can help you stay positive and keep stress at bay.
Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
Most parents know what it’s like to feel guilt over an outburst directed at their child; it happens. When it’s been a long day, and everyone is tired and hungry and pushing one another’s buttons, it’s very easy to let your stress or anger over something that happened at work come out toward someone else. Try not to be hard on yourself if this happens; simply take a deep breath, take a time-out if possible, and talk to your child about your feelings (and theirs). Let them know that you aren’t upset with them and listen to what they have to say. Communication is a big part of reducing stress, even if your child is very young.
Coping with stress and anxiety isn’t always easy, but learning the best ways to do so in a healthy way can allow you to be the best parent you can be. Remember to practice self-care, get adequate rest, and do things that help you stay relaxed and happy.