How to Manage Stress in Family Life
A 2017 Gallup poll found that 79 percent of American adults say they feel stressed sometimes or frequently throughout each day. Having children under the age of 18 years is one of the main risk factors for significant stress, according to the survey. Of course, many parents do not need a poll to tell them that taking care of little ones can bring about pressure.
Between scheduled activities, stomach bugs, learning to share, and all the other stressors in family life, it’s easy to see why many parents feel overwhelmed. The good news is that there is hope. If you feel stressed in your family life, you can take a structured approach to relieve some of the pressure.
Step 1: Identify Your Stressors
Before you can start on the path of reducing stress in your family, you must figure out what’s causing the frustration. There may be too little time to accomplish your goals, some tension in relationships within the family, or external factors like illnesses that put you under pressure.
Make a list of your individual stressors as they relate to family life. Depending on the age of your children and the status of your relationship with their other parent, you may list things such as:
- Going to several activities with the kids
- Getting dinner on the table
- Frustrations with spouse or co-parent
- Fighting between kids
- Trouble keeping the home clean
Some issues could be even more significant than these. For example, divorce or serious illness in the family can cause additional stress. Don’t be afraid to write these down on your list as well.
Try to be as specific as you can with your list. You may also have other people in the home make lists for themselves.
Step 2: Talk About it as a Family
Once everyone willing and able to identify their individual stressors has done so, set aside some time to discuss these issues as a family. Make sure everyone feels safe enough to express their genuine emotions, which may mean allowing people to say things you do not want to hear.
Discuss each of your lists and see where there is overlap. For example, you may find that you are stressed about taking the kids to soccer, and they are stressed about having to go. You may also find causes for some misbehavior.
You will also need to talk about the things you cannot change, such as a serious illness. While you may already be doing everything you can to heal, the family can discuss plans to make things easier on everyone. Once all the stressors are laid out, your family can begin to make plans for change.
Step 3: Make Change Gradually
In your family meeting, talk about a few ways you can change things to make everyone less stressed. Some items may be easy. For example, if a particular activity brings everyone stress and is not mandatory, cut it.
Other changes may be more challenging to make. Take your time making these adjustments, and consider changing just one thing at a time. For example, you may be stressed about keeping the house clean and need more help from everyone. Do not expect everyone to change all at once. Instead, start with a system such as everyone doing one chore after dinner. Once you adjust to that, add other ways for people to help.
In some cases, your family stress may be too much for you to handle on your own. That’s when professional therapy can help. The expert therapists at LifeStance Health can help you go through each of these steps and learn to cope with stressors in healthier ways.
Reach out to a Florida therapy clinic near you today to get an appointment.